Essence of Leadership

“All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”

— John Kenneth Galbraith

6 thoughts on “Essence of Leadership

  1. I would like to comment on your previous post about PanIIT. I have personally found Kalam’s speeches to be very inspiring. Children seem to be especially enthralled by him. However you yourself have written about Kalam’s rather weird approach. For example, preaching children to be honest. Whenever asked about the problem of corruption in our country, he says that only three people can solve this problem: father, mother and teacher. I don’t dispute that this is a very important factor; but who will teach the father, mother and teacher to be honest in the first place. I have noticed that Kalam consistently evades addessing difficult issues which face us today. His constant reply to difficult questions is: don’t worry too much about them, do your work well and these problems will disappear. His administrative record as head of DRDO and scientific advisor is not much to talk about. DRDO still remains a behemoth which has not succeeded in any of its projects. It is run like any other government office and is full of incompetent people.

    Sri Sri is also of the same character. He also never calls a spade a spade. Outwardly he appears to be a soft headed romantic, going around saying all religions are equal and that they all preach peace and harmony.


  2. Praveen,

    You have raised an interesting point. Though Kalam is liked by most, there are some who are not so gung-ho about him. You have mentioned his record in DRDO; am not sure that he’s completely to blame though.

    Btw, Indian Express recently carried a series of articles on the organization. These are 2 of them:

    Another thing is he over-simplifies things. Vision statements are good if supported by good logic and a blue print for action but by themselves they end up as stale rhetoric…speaking for myself, I couldn’t even finish his book for the above reason.

    I found this quote on the net by Princeton-based physicist M.V. Ramana:

    Mr Kalam tends to “dress up even mediocre work with the Tricolour to pass it off as a great achievement. In his autobiography, he says he reverse-engineered a Russian rocket-assisted take-off system, simply borrowing the crucial motors. Publicly, however, it was passed off as an ‘indigenous development'”.


  3. Of course I don’t blame him for all the ills of DRDO. But what did he do to remedy them ? Actually, people in such high positions as he has occupied do have a lot of power if they choose to use it. IE is carrying another piece today on DRDO.

    That is a very peculiar thing about us; we look at every minor achievement from a nationalistic point. Yes, it is good to develop “indigenous” capabilities. But what is the need to blow your horn over that. Moreover, in todays world, nothing is truly indigenous. How the hell does it matter even otherwise ? Kalam and people in similar positions expect young people to work for the sake of the country (again the tricolor is unfurled) without giving any adequate rewards. I don’t expect them to pay the high salaries that are prevalent in the private industry but at least give an inspiring and challenging work environment. But no, they never address this issue and when people start leaving these govt. labs they put all the blame on poaching by private firms. Atanu has recently written about the problems faced by professors; the situation is far worse in these govt labs.


  4. Don’t you guys taunt Mr.Kalam too much!After all, the president in India is to be regarded as a vieux sage.The present head of DRDO is , as I gather from IIT Madras tech festival, a sheer product of IIT , perhaps of export quality.He should be doing a better job with his brilliant brain


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