Leadership Mantra from the poem

Published Date : 07-02-2022


Publisher : SkillPrism

Views : 737


An Epitaph

Here lies a most beautiful lady:

Light of step and heart was she;

I think she was the most beautiful lady

That ever was in the West Country.

But beauty vanishes; beauty passes;

However rare—rare it be;

And when I crumble, who will remember

This lady of the West Country?

Walter de la Mare

According to Walter de la Mare, physical beauty is transient. It never lasts forever. Real beauty is the inner beauty. It never passes nor does it fade. It always brings us joy. And when we depart from this world, we leave behind footprints on the sands of time. In real sense, a man is not remembered for his beauty or outward look. People remember him for his deeds. Life is short-lived. It is like a bubble on sea water. Therefore, one must be very serious in his dealings on this earth. And we should not judge anyone for his outer beauty, but we must look for the inner qualities.  In short through this poem the poet gives us the message that while charm captures the eyes, merit wins the soul.

This is equally true for the corporate world. Leaders are transient in nature. It’s a temporary abode. Their positions may earn them immediate respect, but their attitude and dealings is what makes them great. In my experience, I have witnessed different kinds of leaders and I will share some of these stories for your appreciation.

Reaping as you sow

During my early stint in the profession, I met a very senior leader who was highly arrogant, vindictive, and self-centred. Because of his king like entitlement, I am going to call him K.  K used to treat company assets, services, and people as his personal property. Being around him was an unpleasant experience. No one had courage to speak to him, let alone expressing their point of view. The only silver lining for his junior colleagues was that K was going to superannuate in a few months. His send-off was very warm and cordial. However, a little later when he visited office, he was treated with disdain and most employees ignored him. It got worse that when he went to his office, from where he used to rule, he was not allowed to enter. We could see the embarrassment and humiliation K was undergoing and learnt some valuable lessons. While his position brought him servitude for so many years, the day he lost his position, people turned away from him.

Guilty as charged

His successor, Mr. N was also a very strong and a no-nonsense person. I used to be posted in ______ in those days and closely witnesses this person. One of these days, it was raining very heavily, and weather conditions were harrowing in all of eastern India. All flights and trains were either indefinitely delayed or were getting cancelled. He received a message from corporate office for an urgent meeting regarding promotions and therefore he needed to board an urgent flight. Incidentally, the person looking after administration/employee services who had to now take care of the bookings was also due for promotion. Since the situation was out control, the admin person couldn’t arrange for the booking and politely apologised to N. N was furious and he told the admin person that another sorry would lead to loss of promotion. The weather improved next morning, and somehow the admin person arranged a ticket for N to travel. While going towards boarding gate, he said sorry for his last evening utterances. He also said that it was not under anyone’s control, and he also assured that he the person was going to get promotion. For the person, it was a pleasant surprise which he had never expected that sorry will come from him. A small gesture of repentance made a huge difference in his junior colleague’s heart. 

A humble commander

About seven years ago, the then Chairman of the company called me and asked to convey a regret of request to the founder Chairman (F), who was now working as independent director with many large conglomerates. F is an epitome of humility, compassion, and professionalism. In those days, he was writing a book on the company which he had founded and discussion revolved around that book. I was not comfortable in conveying this message as I used to meet him on and off for different issues. When I reached F’s office to convey the bad news, I was once again charmed by his pleasant demeanour. Despite his age, he got up and greeted me and ushered me to a chair. We started talking about the book which he was writing and he began taking notes of some of my viewpoints. After our discussions, I started conveying him the decision, he just smiled and said I just wanted to involve your company in this journey. He did not express any displeasure or unhappiness on the issue. Though, F is more than 92 year old, he is revered like a God in his old company. Still, the same charm, alertness, and sharpness!

Your Options:

So, the option before a contemporary leader is who do you want to become? In todays changed world your reputations precede your arrival. Despite knowing all the facts, leaders do behave in different ways. From above, it can be seen there are three examples such as, an authoritarian leader, a tough and empathetic leader and a true transformational leader who believes in building institutions not organisations.

Even today, the poet Walter de la Mare is true to every word he wrote a century back. Everyone will secure a job and get a certain position. What you make out of that position will be your contribution to the world and a mark of real beauty. I urge my readers to take a step back from their daily routine and think how they would like to be remembered when they leave that stage. What legacy would they like to leave behind?

 Why not write an Epitaph for self?

User Comments

Ayush Kakanwar 12-02-2022 17:55:33pm


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