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Gods Among Leaders

posted Apr 8, 2012, 7:34 PM by Vishal Jain
Among the many great inspirers and motivators of men, there are a few who tower above the rest. They are leaders who are already martyrs when they are still alive.

I can't say i have ever spent a great deal of time with one. But i hear about them and see them in action when they are public figures, and their personal success in achieving whatever goals they had in mind are usually testaments to their uncanny leadership ability.

What defines these "gods" among leaders? Well, they are the few who manage to inspire greatness out of typically mediocre people.

Many of us believe that most humans can accomplish just about anything. If a guy thinks hard enough he'll set academic records, if he strategizes hard enough he'll excel in politics, and if he fights hard enough he'll win wars. But when you are paired with a guy who hasn't opted to invest that much energy, and hasn't accomplished much their entire lives, it often feels like you are carrying deadweight.

And yet, there are certain powerful leaders who are able to connect with laggards, even though for us even their lack of communication skills would be a barrier to progress (you can't even explain what an unmediocre job would be, let alone expect them to accomplish one). Great leaders can unlock an unexpected understanding, an emotional motivation, among the otherwise apathetic to give everything they have to a cause and contribute to a culture that learns and improves in furthering this cause even if every single member of team did not join as motivated as they became.

I think Procter and Gamble is an example of such a culture. They have built an intuitive and uncontestable discipline in brand marketing that proves its value in market share. Yet, i would not say that every person who joins Procter and Gamble is necessarily as talented as a McKinsey consultant or Goldman Sachs analyst when they join the company.

Whoever shaped their brand management team must have managed to take what appeared to be sophisticated secrets guarded by only geniuses, and simplified them to thinking processes anyone can follow, and inspired regular people to do extraordinary things to execute these processes.

It's easy to motivate an intelligent person to take on a difficult task. It's also possible, with enough practice, to help a motivated person find reason to direct their motivations to be in parallel with your own. But it is very rare and impressive when a person can take an unmotivated person and make them so motivated about a cause that they become leaders they never knew they were.

I don't know how they do it yet, but i hope to one day have the universality of appeal required to make "ordinary people do extraordinary things".