SELF AUTHORING LEADERSHIP: K. A. Narayan, President HR – Raymond Ltd

Amongst the myriad count of successful leaders who are known in this world, few stand out for the extraordinary legacy they leave behind. They are icons and national symbols who are synonymous with the organisation they lead and with the industry they represent.

  • What differentiates these leaders from the rest?
  • Why are they larger than life?
  • What drives them to build institutions?
  • Why are they irreplaceable?

Self Authoring Leaders

These leaders are amongst a unique breed called Self Authoring Leaders. There are several qualities that define a self-authoring leader – two of which are outstanding. They connect with a deep sense of Purpose and operate on strong Values.

Purpose-led Leadership

In the year 1976, when addressing a group of Doctors, His Holiness Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam spoke of the need for a hospital with a missionary spirit.  That triggered the thought in the mind of Dr.S. Badrinath who, along with a group of philanthropists, started a not-for-profit eye hospital called Shankar Netralaya which marked the beginning of world-class eye care to the people of India; one that would adopt a single standard of care for all, rich or poor, one that would share the fruits of its knowledge and spread its concept of care to distant parts of this country.  This institution has become one of the leading eye care chains in India.  This is a great example of Purpose led leader in the social sector.

A recent example of a renewed energy in the organisation using Purpose is Unilever.  When Paul Polman took over as the CEO of Unilever, the first thing he did was to articulate a very inspiring Purpose of reducing the carbon footprint on the planet.  While it sounded very esoteric to begin with, the entire organisation was rewired to meet this Purpose.  What Polman left was an indelible ink in the organisation where every employee got a great insight as to how they are contributing to a larger cause on this planet.  This initiative had a significant impact on the global carbon footprint.  Isn’t it very audacious for a leader to even think of inspiring the entire organisation with a larger purpose and yet grow the business profitably?

Leadership Trends

Leaders like Varghese Kurien (AMUL), Yogi Deveshwar (ITC) Muhammad Yunus (Gramin Bank), Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi are other examples of self-authoring leaders in more recent times.  Research shows that 50% of millennials are even willing to take a pay cut to find work that matches their values and purpose.  While competent managers may be able to get a job done, purpose driven leaders are able to inspire and motivate employees at a deeper level.

Organisations are, therefore, investing a huge amount in cultivating and grooming self-authoring leaders who are passionate about leaving a legacy rather than just getting a job done.

Source: The Hunt Report Vol.14

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