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Effective leadership styles in Indian context.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson aptly put forth what we want from a LEADER—our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.


History stands testimony, that great leaders whether they lead an organization or a country appreciate the significance of providing inspiration and the path to achieve the larger goals of their followers. A good leader seems to lead effortlessly; the goal is to demonstrate the best qualities of a leader while encouraging the same from those who follow them.

As the character, actions and thoughts of a leader, good or bad, permeate an organization.


So should a nation’s culture and heritage influence its people’s Leadership Style? In Indian context it should be a big “YES”; Indian leaders need to adapt their leadership style to India’s rich national cultural heritage.

We Indians take great pride in ‘family as a unit’ and treat it as the backbone of our culture and within this framework of the ‘Family Unit’ lays the basic principle of all—Great Leadership.

A child grows with nurturance, affection and reprimanding as and when needed, right from his/her childhood to adulthood in this unit.

A great leader would apply the same principle and basic skills to the work culture. Like a nurturing head of the family a good leader provides its team members an encouraging atmosphere to grow and thrive both personally and professionally. A leader builds cohesion among team members and lays great prominence on the growth of the team. Indian leaders also build employee dedication by encouraging sincerity by looking after the interests of its employees and their families.


Humane relationships and behaviours’ are particularly valued in India ethos. Sensitivity for the personal circumstances of others is the foundation of family system. Empathy towards understanding others’ personal situation can go a long way for successful leadership, for e.g. inquiring about a sick parent, attending an employee’s wedding etc. fosters loyalty and gratis. This impacts the employee performance significantly. A humane approach by the leader towards life circumstances and events boosts the morale of team member and has a significant impact on employee performance in the long run for the positive.


An effective leader is charismatic (like a Guru who’s Shisya would follow in his/her footsteps happily) because they are mindful of the following needs/aspects of their team members:


  • Attentive of his team members
  • Takes personal interest in their well-being
  • Shows empathy and understanding
  • Committed to their growth
  • Inspire and excite to do their best work
  • Respect and invite their opinions
  • Understanding when employees have work-family conflicts, thus building future loyalty
  • Implementing team members ideas and suggestions
  • Challenging, modelling, inspiring, enabling
  • Above all see value in others

Managing and developing talent, shaping employee attitudes, managing organizational culture and retaining employee is another aspect of effective leadership.


However for a leader to be effective, they need to ensure that they cultivate contingent based on the team member’s task achievement and meeting of benchmarks set for them. The goals and roles of the team are structured in a mutually understood and agreed upon targets, in a way where the member understands and accepts the goals willingly and develops commitment to them in the long run. This ensures in successfully execution of tasks allotted.

The team members who meet the leader’s expectations by delivering on mutually consented goals are reinforced by monetary gains, designation hike etc. This further leads to developing a relationship of mutual respect and understanding, thus leading to elevated efficiency and better growth of the organisation, team member’s and the leader.


But at the same time one needs to be mindful of the fact that this structure of leadership should not lead to hierarchical and autonomous kind of leadership because it’s a very thin line that divides this particular style of leadership from leaning towards an authoritative leadership. This would be damaging to the morale of the team and over all well being of the organisation.


Building self-belief, inventiveness and accountability is especially significant in the Indian work context. Leaders need to implement and practice team norms that encourage collaboration, combined manifestation, mutual appreciation and professional connections/communication to build successful teams and organizations.