"Prestige comes when you feel you have done something well.
But honour comes when others feel you have done something well."
(Quote credit: Bibhor Tripathi, professional in a Pharmaceutical MNC)
It was yesterday that I was having a discussion with my eight year old son around leadership. I wasn't deliberately training him but something popped up and hence I had to make him realize what leadership is all about. Yes, we need to make them aware at a young age before they misinterpret the concept from somewhere else. Trust me, good parenting is no less than leading, coaching & nurturing. All works in tandem. As a parent, you are a coach & a leader for your little ones. So, you need to handle this department with great care & agility because for your little ones, you are the ones that they look up to for everything, there's no replacement here unlike proxies in the professional world.
It so happened that my son was upset with the fact that he was not made the class monitor. What disturbed him most was that he couldn't wear that badge that he was vying for long. He was in tears and started blaming the persons who made the choice & tried to justify his point. That the selected monitor is not good, that he is better, that he lost all hopes, that he doesn't want to eat...etc.etc. All the possible tantrums that you can imagine from a young kid. The mother in me was upset, but I am not just a loving mother but a coach & leader for my son too. I have to teach him life's greatest lessons on leadership. My mind was filled with gratitude at the occurrence of this incident. I strongly believe Universe gives you what you need at the moment & not what you want. This is for your holistic growth. I sat down with him and tried to put my thoughts across. I did ask him if he congratulated his friend on becoming the monitor or not. He said he won't and would never. It hurts him because he wanted to have the badge which his friend had. I asked him to give an honest answer to this question to himself : Did you want to be the monitor because you only wanted the badge & the power that came along with it or you wanted to be a monitor because you think you can perform the duties of a true leader which means doing everything that he would want his class to be first? That moment he was silent. I gave him time & told him to come back once he is ready to discuss with me. I had to remind him of Nelson Mandela and his leadership skills. A beautiful quote by him says,"Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of the people." I asked if need be, when one day he becomes the monitor, he might have to give away the badge for the good of all that he has promised to take care of. Finally, after few minutes of exchange of words, he came up with few things:
1. That he will congratulate his friend tomorrow on his success.
2. That he understood that leading means first loving the people you want to lead.
3. That a leader need not have a badge or the title. He need not long for any of these, but to first be so good that others feel loved, powerful & great having him around.
And the mother in me was delighted to hear this. I hugged him and told him, "You are a true leader because you didn't let your negative thoughts spoil you. You led yourself out of this. Now you have learnt a few leadership lessons i.e. being happy at other's success & working towards developing yourself first."
It's easy to mould young minds, but hard to bend fully evolved adults. If in every home, we decide to mould thinking in the right direction, wouldn't this world be a great place to live in?!
The quote mentioned at the start of the post, just caught my attention today & made me think deeply. How beautiful it is! It captures the entire essence of leadership & many more. The title, the position, the badge are all part of that recognition, it's prestige. But, when your work creates ripple effect, a profound difference in the lives of people that you are serving; you earn their love, trust, respect & that's the honour bit. A true leader leads from the back, he/she loves his/her community and least cares about leading or even the title. This attitude automatically makes him/her a leader, a leader by choice, by dint of service & by contribution to bigger causes. Love before you lead.
Leaving you with this question: Do you want the badge, the prestige or earn the honour of being a true leader?
Life & Organizational Development Coach