Yesterday morning I was going to Faridabad, I had a appointment there with one of our prospective customer who was interested in SkillPoint . I had never been to the city even though it is in vicinity of Gurgaon. I was expecting a pleasant excursion as I knew that 40 Km road to Faridabad is dotted with green mountains and they look stunning in the morning . To avoid the morning rush hours I left my place a little early than usual and with in 30 minutes I was among the hills . the view was really stunning . there was moderate traffic most of the people were urban couples coming to work in Gurgaon. I heard there are lot of husband-wife couple who commute to Gurgaon daily and live in Faridabad because of low real estate cost .
All was going fine until at a blind turn I encountered a big jam . on enquiry I came to know that someway down the road there is a truck with flat wheels and that is causing the trouble . with ¾ of the road blocked by that truck people have to use only ¼ of the passage ,and with drivers from opposite directions locking horn with each other they were not able to use even that much properly. Every one was honking the horn to the person in front of him and cursing the truck driver . I cursed him too and began to think that I should call the client and inform him about the delay .
Than suddenly a tall slender gentlemen in his mid fifties came out from a Maruti 800 behind me and ask me what is the reason of jam ? I told him the story of truck . He walked up to the truck and moved around the gap . than he climbed up a nearby rock and looked at the growing row of cars and bikes . than suddenly he did the unexpected ,he took total control of situation in his hands . he requested the driver next to the truck to stop honking and move back his car by a 5-6 steps so that bikes behind him can move ahead .than he did the same stuff with the bikes on the opposite direction . suddenly out of nowhere there was a small lane where 10-20 bikes crossed the bottleneck and in process made way for a big Tempo truck and a Mini Bus to cross each other . After that the crowd which was honking aimlessly 10 minutes ago began to act like a well behaved and self organizing systems . some young men from a Call center cab come out and began to assist the old man . now traffic was slowly moving . what was looking like a long jam lasted only 15 minutes . Now the old man was on his way back to his Maruti 800, as he walked past me I bowed and said " Uncle !! Well done. Good job !! " .He smiled in acknowledgement and said " Beta !! hum sab ko office jana hai khade khade intazaar karne se kaam tou nahin chalta hai " ( Son !All of us needs to reach office on time , standing here and waiting is not the solution )
One may say this is a normal incident it could have happened anywhere in India and I am sure each one of us have seen the old man in one form or another . but if we look deeply on chain of events you will notice something strange and interesting. The commuters which were stuck in that jam were of various types . there were highly educated cosmo – couples in there SANTRO Xing , day laborer in tempo , BPO executives in Qualis , IT Sales person like me on Bikes and old man in Maruti 800 .
All of us were facing the same problem "The Unexpected Jam " but our reaction to the problem was totally different . I thought of calling the client and informing him, Cosmo couple in Xing thought of bad roads and cursed the system, govt ,driver and might tell his wife how during his 10 years of stay in USA there was never a single traffic jam . Day laborer in temp were busy smoking the "bidi " and oblivious to all this BPO guys were sleeping in there cabs and listening to Radio Mirchi. None of us did any thing .
But this old man , who had a slight limp in his walk . took the charge and solved the problem . What was the difference between the old man and rest of the crowd . The difference was of a attitude . We were the cribber ,whiners and finally followers and
He Was a Leader .
Anatomy of a leader :
Any body who would seen that Old Man out side of that situation might not think of him as a leadership material . he was old , seemingly fragile and was walking with a limp. He doesn't fit in our mental model of a leader . big question here is that what do we think when we think about leadership ? usually we think of enigmatic personality ,great oration , great vision and greater sacrifice and the list goes on . any body who wants to act like a leader should have either or all of these traits . than only we will accept him as leader and follow his instructions . This is the real problem psychologists call this "The Warren Harding Error" .
So when we are faced with a situation in personal, public or professional life which demands us to play the role of a leader and if our own idea of our personality doesn't fit in the prototype of leader we think that we are not cut out to do it . we wait , we crib, we whine , we complaint , we accept & we follow .
We often confuse leadership with the image of successful leaders we know or we read about . The old man I meet today was not a leader in that sense. Thinking about his action I can say a leader is one
q who doesn't accept the things as they came up .
q He doesn't find himself helpless in the time of adversity .
q He takes initiative
q He need not necessarily be excessively vocal or pushy or arrogant
q He never sit around and complaint .
q He might be working for his own benefits/ necessity and good of other might be a byproduct .
q Leaders drive Maruti 800
Sometime in our lives , We all face a situation where we need to rise up and take action , there is always a chance of being rejected, being ridiculed, or laughed at but like the old man in my story we should do what is right .
All of us might not be the born or natural leaders but I think most of us can be situational leaders . next time when ever I will face a situation like the one I face today I will try to play the role of Old Man and I hope that you will also try to do it .