My tryst with Strengths

It all began when I was a kid, the eldest sibling in a joint family. I had four younger to me who followed me. We all got praises for what we did individually, but I was blamed for any one doing any mischief. Here I learnt my first lesson of leadership that the Credit will be given to concerned person, but the blame will be taken by the leader. In the hind sight when I look back, although I performed numerous leadership roles as a class monitor, as a school football captain, as a village football captain, as a house prefect in the Sainik School, as a Squadron Cadet Captain (SCC) in the National Defence Academy (NDA), but did not understand leadership. For the promotion examinations in Military we had to study Leadership which was the most boring subject I ever studied. I forced myself to learn without understanding, relevant chapters from the leadership book to ensure I cleared my promotion examination. It continued till I heard a discourse from Col AG Inamdar, in 1977, then he was the Commander of the Junior Leaders’ Wing at Belgaum. It was the best presentation (no PPT or slides were used by him) on leadership I have ever attended till date. I had come with the intention of going to sleep during the lecture, but throughout I was on the edge of my chair.

Confusion in  Leadership

While serving with the Indian Army and the United Nations, I came across several models of leadership. I followed my own model, based on my natural talents. Despite successful 33 years with the Army and 12 Years with the United Nations, the picture of a leader was hazy in my mind. I had no concrete picture about a leader. I read biographies of several political, military, industrial, social, and other leaders but the picture in my mind did not take a concrete shape. While searching for a concrete structure of a leader, I came across the book “Strengths Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. It was based on the decades of research and survey carried out one of the greatest social scientist, Dr Donald Clifton. What impressed me most are the findings that “why people follow leaders”: Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope. I got the answer which I was looking for since became leader of my siblings by being the eldest.

Absolute Clarity of Leadership

Then there was no stopping, after studying the book several times, till I felt confident, took the Clifton StrengthsAssessment, went through accelerated programme in September 2015 and became a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. I got the Re-Certification two weeks back.

In two years, I have conducted Strengths-Based awareness sessions of 1/2/3/4 hours for 1789 persons and coached 579. They include students (Class IX onward), parents, teachers, professors, assistant professors, NGOs, corporate employees, team leaders, leaders, home makers and families.