Rajeshwar Upadhyaya, Editor-in-Chief, The Leadership Review

Rajeshwar Upadhyaya, Editor-in-Chief, The Leadership Review

June 8, 2015

Hegel had proposed that all of history progresses through opposition. Thesis and anti-thesis collide, producing a superior synthesis. This synthesis is the thesis of the next stage producing its own anti-thesis. Synthesis two is superior to synthesis one.

Marx insisted that it was possible to hasten the progress of history by actively enhancing the anti-thesis.

The conventional impression of the leader borrows substantially from military history. And the vocabulary of business is replete with the vocabulary of war: strategy, tactics, execution, leadership, operations, etc. This implied war was no longer war; business was war. Therefore, the leader was audible, visible, larger than life, and what he did became the stuff of legends, heroes, icons even mythology.

The emergence of Asian economies like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and now China, offered an alternate way of looking at leaders. Many leaders in these countries were paradigmatically different. Humble. Hard working. Spiritual. Persistent. Came from deprived background. Some lacked education. But they had will. Had vision and an infinite capacity to suffer silently; drawing their courage and audacity from inner resources. A bullet shot into the ground will go a few inches; but a drop of water can travel upto forty feet. The strength, power, flexibility, fluidity, and its latent capacities can make it exist in all three states of matter; metaphorically too.

Jim Collins hit upon the level five leader quite serendipitously. The research around that literature gave the level five leader an empirical definition. But this is grossly limiting. Leaders with the attributes of the level five leader build sustainable success and institutions that last. Their legacy lives after they are gone. Examples of these leaders are many. Our attempt is to cull out examples from our own backyard and showcase their achievements. Some past issues have carries stories that fit this description. Here we introduce Rajinder Singh, who is a level five leader. A local one. The one that emerges from the smell and taste and colour of this land. The sweat and heat and dust.

The anti thesis is here to refine our thinking about leadership, about achievement, about social contribution. To re-look at our man-making processes critically, and actively cultivate the benign, compassionate, giving and forgiving attributes. These will indeed be core attributes that will help us manage and lead in an environment of uncompromising change, complexity and turbulence.