Ignite the Spark Within
Vineet R Bhatt | Oct 12, 2015
One afternoon, in the breathless and sultry mid-summer heat, I was caught in an annoying traffic mix-up. The lone traffic controller was in a pitiable state trying to bring some order in the traffic movement which had otherwise come to a standstill. Every passing moment added more traffic and more confusion.
I cursed the weather, I cursed my misfortune and I cursed the inauspicious timing. Most of the people around me, I imagined, were doing the same if not arguing or shouting.
Then, I had a glimpse of leadership in action. A young man approached the traffic controller and discussed something animatedly. He then invited a few youngsters around and all of them began to direct the traffic in an organized manner. Very soon the flow became normal. A school bus full of children waved at the young man and cheered at him; some grateful passengers in a cab thanked him loudly and an old man on a two-wheeler shook hands with him.
This young man was not in any uniform, he was not a local bully and neither was he a powerful politician—he was an ordinary person like me appearing tall because he took the initiative. I could have clinched that moment of fame for myself if only I wasn’t too busy bemoaning my luck and the timing; if only I had not let my hesitation hold me back. I could have been the hero but I had just failed to ignite the spark within me.
It’s easy to call the shots when the organization authorizes you with a fancy designation; it’s easy to throw your weight around when you are in uniform and it’s easy to be polite, decent and respectful in times of comfort and convenience.
More often than not a mighty title on the business card or a horde of followers in tow is widely taken as the mark of a leader—a most commonplace and loose interpretation of leadership.
True leaders are not dependent on a title to swing them into action. They are unfazed by challenge and controversy, and they stand for something noble. They place the interest of others over their own. Most importantly they lead by example and model the behaviour they expect others to practice. For them leadership is a calling, a way of life and doing the right thing rather than doing the popular thing to cling on to power and position.
Leadership is not just about being visionary or being ethical or having great communication skills. It’s more than being result oriented or creating a leadership pipeline or building a great team. Leadership is truly a summation of several traits.
Exemplary, inspiring and responsible role model behaviour exhibited according to the need of the moment most comprehensively demonstrates good leadership skill.
The occasion to exhibit leadership quality is almost everywhere—at home, in the office, in a social gathering or even on the streets as in the incident narrated above.
Leadership is a result of concentrated effort. It is neither accidental nor an inheritance.
Each of us possesses that spark of leadership inside us waiting to be ignited. Each of us has an incredible amount of power into creating ourselves. Each of us has the potential to shine and stand tall and be a champion—each of us has it in us to be a great leader only if we choose to be. Those of us who create this opportunity for themselves rise above others.
Rise and be a gift to the world. Light the spark within right now if you must not lose the opportunity to light the world.
Vineet R Bhatt
(Alumnus ’88 Metallurgy and author of ‘The Rear-View Mirror’)