Successful leaderI have been very lucky to work with different personalities and managers in the past, ranging from the most idealistic manager to the most ‘i-should-not-grow-up-to-be-like-him’ type. This experience has taught me very valuable lessons on how to handle people who work for me. In today’s situation, there are many examples of where people graduate out of a business school with very high grades and after a few years of being an apprentice, they transform themselves into a leader. Though management is very much intuitive, it requires some experience and a deeper understanding of psychology of the people they manage and work with, in order to be successful.

The business schools teach a lot of interpersonal skills and ‘tactics’ to shape a person into a leader who is ready for today’s market, but psychology is left to the person to learn by himself. Psychology, to me is an observational science, where we observe people and groups of people and understand how they might react in various situations. Though psychology can be learnt from a book, it is best understood when experienced.

Understanding psychology helps in building up emotional intelligence. Though machines do the job nowadays, we all work in a people world. Emotional intelligence helps in linking to people very quickly and also helps identify their traits easily – which could be a truly competitive advantage. An emotionally intelligent person can tactically use any situation to his favour. An person with emotional intelligence generally has a check on his own ego.

A few years back, i worked with a manager who was extremely egoistic. Even when he knows he is wrong, he had too much ego to accept his mistakes. Working with him was an eye-opener. I immediately realised that i should never be like him when i grow up to be a manager. When he started, he had a handful of guys working with him. As months passed, one after another moved on to different teams, leaving him with just one person to manage. Even the high attrition rate did not bring about any changes to his behaviour. He was as egoistic as always – only that many hated him now.

These sort of people have grown into leaders purely because of their technical knowledge or skill and sometimes because of pure luck and destiny. It is easy to run up to a certain level in the management track, but it is extremely challenging to even inch beyond that. Most of us can attain 80% success in management and leadership, but only a handful of leaders can grow to be great leaders and achieve the rest 20%.

The main contributing factor that gives an edge to move from good to great is to embrace emotional intelligence and to reject ego. History never forgets people who have developed this competitive advantage!

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