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Start as you mean to go on

July 5, 2010

Leadership is a vast topic, much researched and also somewhat understood. I have much more to learn than what I have understood. When you look at leadership in its entire comprehensiveness, it’s a difficult topic to write on for two reasons. One is of course that you can not squeeze it in 500 words but the other, as in my case, is that one feels diminutive amidst its vastness. So I was thinking how to approach this without making it sound like a textbook (I was asked to write a piece for a newsletter). Then while I was listening to a song from Coldplay called “A rush of blood to the head”, I came across an old British expression ‘Start as you mean to go on.’ Now before you associate rock music with leadership, let me clarify that the song of course has nothing to do with HR or leadership but this expression ‘Start as you mean to go on’ really summarises an important aspect of leadership in today’s context.

Recession has hit many companies and put severe demands on the leadership at various levels in the company. Tough decisions might have been made by some leaders. Other leaders would have had to lead the survivors through difficult times. Even though we might have turned the corner, the memories of the recent past don’t fade away so easily. Each of us carries the burden of this past as a collar around our necks. Most of us would be leading some teams or people in our teams and we are responsible for the leadership that we can provide in our teams. These weighty collars of the past make our shoulders droop and with droopy shoulders we can not lead our teams.

The important aspect for leaders to focus on now is to break away from this collar and run, enthuse and excite ourselves into running teams as how you would wish they were run. That is the essence of the expression ‘Start as you mean to go on’. Leaders should consider that they have already reached where they wish to be and use that enthusiastic spirit to start your team work today. I have seen that this builds resilience within yourself and within your team and when you break out, you run faster than others towards your goal. It’s important for leaders to give themselves these placebo injections of positivism if need be.

And where we don’t lead teams, we still lead ourselves. Here too it’s important to think of your desired state of happiness and fulfilment and act in the present with the awareness of that desired state being already there or just around the corner. It’s important to believe in your success.

It is not at all easy for recession hit teams to feel the positivism again but let’s vow to get back to office tomorrow and lead our teams out of the weights of the past. Let’s huddle together to do our bits to lead and start as we mean to go on!

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