We tend to underestimate the importance of transformative leadership in politics and government in India simply because we haven’t seen much of it in our lifetimes. Mediocrity has ruled the roost, and we have all tried to build lives that don’t intersect with the government. But when decisions made (or not made) come to hurt us, if we are not going to step back and think about the leadership issue, then we have no right to complain about our future fate.
Thomas Friedman, writing in Sunday’s New York Times, called for leaders with the know-how and willingness to govern from the bottom up.
“As power shifts to individuals,” argues Dov Seidman, “leadership itself must shift with it — from coercive or motivational leadership that uses sticks or carrots to extract performance and allegiance out of people to inspirational leadership that inspires commitment and innovation and hope in people.”
The role of the leader now is to get the best of what is coming up from below and then meld it with a vision from above. Are you listening, Mr. Putin?
This kind of leadership is especially critical today, adds Seidman, “when people are creating a lot of ‘freedom from’ things — freedom from oppression or whatever system is in their way — but have not yet scaled the values and built the institutional frameworks that enable ‘freedom to’ — freedom to build a career, a business or a meaningful life.”
So, what does that mean in the Indian context?