The Pragati Leadership Blog

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Personal Leadership: Using my strengths to achieve peak performance


In the corporate world the word “Personal Leadership” is a new lingo to use. Personal leadership is growing the leader within YOU. When you practice personal leadership traits, you lead from inside out. Therefore, I thought of penning down some real life practices of an Icon who rewrote the game of boxing, which earned him the name of “The Greatest”.

Muhammad Ali  was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC. Ali began training when he was just 12 years old and at the age of 22, he already had won the world heavyweight championship in 1964. Ali remains the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.

Ali’s golden principle for personal leadership: Identify-Attain Mastery-Reinvent

  • Identifying your personal boxing style:

Corporate world is a world of cut throat competition and it is a world where you need to know what you are good at. What is your strength, your own boxing style and how to use this strength repeatedly in your battles?

Ali did it very efficiently in his entire professional career; he had an unorthodox boxing style for a heavyweight, his catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” won him many laurels. Ali relied early in his career on his superior hand speed, superb reflexes and constant movement, dancing and circling opponents, lashing out with quick unpredictable angles. His footwork was so strong that it was extremely difficult for opponents to cut down the ring and corner Ali against the ropes. You too identify your personal style and fight your battle in your own way.

  • Attain Mastery

Today the world is looking for a combination of “Jack of all trades and Master of ONE”. It is very important to grow and attain self-mastery or signature style.

Darrell Foster, who trained Will Smith for the movie Ali, said: “Ali’s signature punches were the left jab and the overhand right. But there were at least six different ways Ali used to jab. Most popularly known as ‘snake lick,’ – a jab like a cobra striking and rapid-fire jab – three to five jabs in succession rapidly fired at opponents’ eyes to create a blur in his face.” He attained mastery in his style and pinned his opponents. Hence, it is important to focus and strengthen your strength to attain mastery.

  • Reinvent your style

Reinvent your style and use it again to be relevant. Ali became a different fighter after the three and half year layoff. This physical change led to the “rope-a-dope” strategy, where Ali would lie back on the ropes, cover up to protect himself and conserve energy, and tempt opponents to punch themselves out. Of his later career, Arthur Mercante said: “Ali knew all the tricks. He was the best fighter I ever saw in terms of clinching. Most guys are just in there fighting, but Ali had a sense of everything that was happening, almost as though he was sitting at ringside analyzing the fight while he fought it.” This helped him stay on the top of his league throughout.

Now, introspect what is your personal style? Are you focusing and strengthening enough, because Personal Leadership is not a training it’s a trait that has to be acquired and used over a period of time to attain mastery.

By Sharat Paul

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Personalize your Leadership

A series of recent personal experiences and musings have taught me the underlying strength and effectiveness of a true leader – the ability to ‘personalize’ his/ her leadership skills.

Musings on Krishna: The word Krishna means ‘all      attractive’ – in other words He attracts all.

When He used to be a part of the ‘raas leela’ each of the    Gopis thought that Krishna was dancing with her and   nobody else and that He loved her the most!

The reason was simple – Krishna was and is personal with His devotees.

Learning 1: A true leader needs to be personal with his followers.

Hosting-the Taj way: I remember some months back, I was checking into the Taj at Baroda and as soon as my car entered the porch area, the security guard opened the door and welcomed me by saying ‘Good evening  Mr Bharwani, welcome to the Taj’. I was elated to hear my own name and I kept on hearing it from the staff till I entered my room. 

They simply personalized their offering (from my name to the food) to attract me, so much so I have very fond memories of my stay in that hotel and I have spoken about this to many of my friends. The result – I have become a loyal follower of this hotel.

Learning 2: The leader reciprocates in a way that makes the follower feel special.

Smiling with a saint: Recently, I got the opportunity to spend some introspective time with a saint in my building and we happened to see one of my neighbours pass by. For as long as I can remember, this lady never once smiled at anybody but that particular instance she smiled at the saint and I saw the saint smiling back. I was shocked. I revealed to him my astonishment and how I’d never seen her respond to anybody’s smile till that moment only to get another smile from him in response!

It then struck me that I have seen this saint meet many people from flamboyant billionaires to simple villagers and they all seemed so deeply connected with him. I’ve watched tears roll down their faces sometimes without a single word being spoken, triggered simply by a touch.

Learning 3: The leader connects with his people’s deepest feelings and needs, setting them free to express themselves fully.

Honest, soul-to-soul conversations and listening from the heart are indeed powerful tools to connect with the follower and as leaders see more of the follower, reciprocation becomes more meaningful and this attracts the follower to the leader all the more. There’s no better example for this than the Gopis, in the dead of the night, would leave their homes to meet their eternal lover Krishna, not worried one bit about the consequences at home.

To be a true leader therefore, one has to genuinely personalize one’s leadership endeavours. Only then will followers willingly take risks and put in that extra effort because they will genuinely believe that their leader gives them personal care.

By Deepak Bharwani

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