View | Leader, not a trader!

View | Leader, not a trader!
© Provided by CNBCTV18

When we look at successful and more importantly impactful leaders, there is one common trait— their ability to build large heterogeneous teams with a diverse set of capabilities and personality styles, with the ability to relate to a dynamically changing ecosystem.

Lone wolf syndrome is the one where the individual lives by the belief that they have to do life alone, that no one truly has their back, that everyone’s just in it for themselves. And that they have to take it all, for themselves.

Most entrepreneurs start businesses today with the belief that they have to be the leader, steadfastly breaking new ground, finding customers, and generally taking care of all the business.

But many of these leaders lack in their ability, in dealing with the emotional needs of their teams. They could be wonderful orators and can gather up a crowd of interested teams, but might not observe the nuanced-suffering of a direct report!

Lone-wolf leadership

(S)he mostly recruits talent only those from a particular homogenous ecosystem to work with them, without realising that in the startup world, you need to work along with contradictions, conflicts and confusion; and yet derive clarity in this midst!

The lone-wolf leaders (be it founders, entrepreneurs or CXOs) don’t brook ‘interference’ or ‘insubordination’ (as they see it) when the team member is offering a viewpoint that’s different from their own. Generally, most of these team members stay put in such an ecosystem, as long as they can tolerate or can move to another platform or to achieve some of their financial objectives (say like ESOP grant-vesting or cashing out). Even if the talent attrition is high, as it is generally seen with such leaders, the leader won’t care.

Theoretically, the HR leaders are supposed to play the role of bridging this stark reality with purported grand statements that they have listed in their ‘Values’. In reality, such star leaders hold the “purse & promotion strings”, and consequently HR remains a mute spectator or at times, a shoulder to cry on.

Narcissism is a trait that works well for the business models of social media companies. Such behaviour does not augur well for leaders of large teams or companies. But lone-wolf-leaders love to hear their own voice or their praise.

They silently crave for a coterie of followers, whose perceived loyalty is bought with higher pay, and consequently many of those candidates (followers) become outpriced in the job market and also allow themselves to be treated poorly by the leader.

The “I, me, myself”lLeadership syndrome is visible across industries and age groups. The individual thinks that the purpose of the existence of the entire organisational team is herself/himself. And ends up treating the team shabbily. Such individuals want larger benefits to accrue to them and don’t think of trampling on people and their aspirations.

At the same time, displaying the “Jekyl & Hyde” syndrome; such leaders have the utmost charm in dealing with their investors, Boards and the media, while turning their ire in their ‘kingdom’ with their teams.

Everything is personal

Such leaders take any difference of opinion very personally. And hell will break loose if any of their team members dare to resign, it’s almost akin to sacrilege of highest kind and deserting the mother-ship. “How can you resign when God has gifted such a leader to mankind and to you?”

Also, when it comes to rewards for performance, many of those lone-leaders negotiate disproportionately higher payouts for themselves, while offering a “wait for some time and you will get more” package for their teams. Any team member who has ‘dared to differ’ with the leader the previous year, will be remembered for ‘special attention’ during the payouts time.

There are many an instance wherein such lone-wolf-leadership situation, when the boards sadly turn a blind eye to such toxic leadership style, as they don’t want to disturb the business momentum and don’t want to confront the leader. Even some well-respected corporate brands have such folklore stories of various misdemeanours of star-performers and with no visible action from those “respected” companies.

Dealing with such leaders

Such individuals understand only business output. They do not tolerate anything lesser than expectations. Individually, they are brilliant people, who like to be lonely, despite being surrounded by their coterie. Their business instincts are sharp. It’s akin to good traders who have a sharp intellect, quick responses, ability to close a loss and exit a situation. But then traders are generally individualistic and not large-team-leaders.

The only way to deal with lone-wolf leaders is to leave that toxic work environment. Such an ecosystem does not offer any semblance of respect, courtesy, or professionalism.

Good leaders do more than just direct the work of their employees – they inspire, they motivate everyone around them to give their best effort. Lone-leaders are sadly just alone.

Good leaders build trust, people, teams, organisations, and do not trade in value-system for a specific value (reward).

—The author Srinath Sridharan is Corporate Advisor and Independent markets commentator. Views expressed are personal.

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