Thursday, August 28, 2008


We had been through the DASI phase I (surprise) inspection and were given 60 days to prepare for the phase II inspection. This is the ultimate operational audit of any fighter squadron in the Indian Air Force and covers all facets of squadron functioning - operations, administration and maintenance. The surprise inspection is conducted to test a squadron's operational capability in the here and now mode. We had done well in this inspection and it was expected that we would do even better in the planned inspection after 60 days. Nothing succeeds like success. Once a squadron tastes success, there is no holding the squadron back thereafter and the morale of all the personnel goes sky high - which also happens to be the one of the important requirement for any organisation, specially the defence forces where it is absolutely essential. As a Commanding Officer, I wanted to let my people know that we were already there and also that everyone had to put in his bit to make it happen. I wanted a slogan that could help all the personnel focus on the objective of doing what they were capable of doing and what they all wanted to do.

I pondered over 'Together we can do it'. The more I thought of this, the more i realised that all that this slogan did was to let people know that yes we can do it together. This was just a statement of fact because everyone had it in them to do it.

I then thought of 'Together we must do it'. I felt that this sounded too official and did not capture the spirit of my personnel.

Finally, I decided on 'Together we will do it'. This conveyed what we had in mind. It put in words the fact that all the personnel were trained to do it, and thus could do it. In addition it vocalised their thought of wanting to do something good for the squadron. This message was put up on a placard and placed at a spot where it was read by everyone of our people when they passed through during their routine work. Everyone read it atleast once a day for the next 60 days, and it gave them a sort of a positive energy to achieve what we had decided to do. The result was that we had a very motivated team that did well in the DASI inspection. The placard and the slogan were not what helped us achieve our goal. It was the verbalisation of our thoughts that led us to do well.

Many a times we want to do something for our organisation but are not sure about how and what to do. We all feel this, specially if we love to work for an organisation. This feeling is palpable and the leader must have a pulse of this. It is then the leader's duty and job to help people focus on what they want to do but are unable to put their thoughts through the 3-step sequence of thought, followed by word and finally the deed. Every action follows this process. It is a leader's job to help people convert their inner thoughts into acts by helping them through the 3-steps.

Seems elementary, but like common sense it is not very commonly used. Thought is the most powerful tool with any human being. However, this thought has to go through the process of verabalisation and action before it could be of any use in the physical world. Many years ago while visiting Disney world in Florida I had read a saying that said:

'What your mind can imagine, you can create'.

This profound saying has stayed with me, hopefully for life.

Yes, one can create what one imagines, but do we?.......That is the difference between 'can' and 'will'. Think about it. It is a good leader's job to convert the 'can' to 'will'.


Leadership is about leading.
A group of people.
To what end?
To achieve an aim that is always bigger than the individual needs/ aspirations of each member of the group.
Who are the people who comprise this group of followers?
These are people who are totally taken up with the 'Vision' that is projected by the leader.
Is leadership always positive?
No. Sometimes it could lead people in a negative direction. Remember Hitler. He was a great leader but led people the wrong way. Gandhiji was a great leader who led people in the right direction.
Can leadership fool the people who are following?
Sometimes, but not for very long. Leaders always lead, and thus every follower is scrutinising the leader at all times. The leader has to walk the talk or else he looses credibility, and his leadership role.
How is the leadership role assigned in the military?
In the military the leader is appointed after being duly selected and trained. The leader then has to go and earn his leadership position with his troops or else he remains a leader by the books, but not in the hearts and minds of his troops. A true leader rules the minds and hearts of his troops. This kind of a leader can lead his troops into the valley of death, without anyone asking why, how, what.
Can leadership be learnt?
Yes. One needs to be fired with a vision that is much larger than oneself and the vision includes the needs/ aspirations of all those one thinks would follow him to fulfill the vision.