Where have all the leaders gone?

Lee Iacocca asks that question in his book.

His concern — correctly, in my opinion — is with the lack of leadership in the US. But with some substitutions in the names and a few other changes, he could as well been talking about India. At least, the US is fortunate enough that it has an 82-year old ex-CEO to tell it like it is. Where are they in India?

I don’t know what’s Lee’s anwer is to his own question. But here is my answer. Leaders are endogenous to the population, especially so in a democracy where the people choose their own leaders. The same dimensions along which the leaders stand indicted, the people stand doubly guilty. George W Bush is a reflection of the mentality of the average citizen of the US, just as much as Adolf Hitler represented the will and aspirations of the people of Germany during his time. The collective consciousness of the people has to change for there to be a change in leadership.

Lee in his first chapter of the book has a leadership test. He calls it the “Nine C’s of Leadership.” The US leaders clearly fail that test. You decide how the Indian leadership stacks up. Go read the first chapter. (Hat tip: Uday Sreekanth.)

7 thoughts on “Where have all the leaders gone?

  1. Chandra Wednesday April 18, 2007 / 10:18 am

    There are plenty of leaders still around, but no one wants to give them the time to know about them. Even if they rare their heads occasionally, the quest for perfection by cultural gate keepers means good leaders aren’t enough (some of whom are eventually modelled into great ones by circumstances) and get wacked in head.

    Things really don’t happen without leaders, in what ever field you look at – one reason things are going so bad politically in India (and one can say in US too). But beyound politics, lot of things are going right, most are being led by non-widely known organizational leaders.


  2. Chandra Wednesday April 18, 2007 / 10:22 am

    BTW, given your passion for what you do, I’d put you in the potential leaders category too. Although I don’t know much about you, when you start making things happen for the better, I’d move into the leadership category. 🙂


  3. Vishal Sharma on Startups Wednesday April 18, 2007 / 11:24 am

    I wonder what do u have to say about Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi or Communists and others.
    It will be good if can find top 10 fitting leaders for India and other 10 who has the potential.


  4. as Wednesday April 18, 2007 / 9:27 pm

    I had dinner with a few of my school friends this sunday and one of my seniors told the group that we were all successful in our professional, business lives but that we needed to take up roles of public service. There was a lukewarm response to that. Why? The best are in the private sector, why will they want to expend effort and time to serve the people? Not at the current time. It the the hideously inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy that is limiting the PPF of India.


  5. hemacandra Thursday April 19, 2007 / 6:07 am

    OK let’s get started on measuring up our so-called leaders. But let us also measure the gasbag vela naalaayaks – oops I mean our ‘intelligensia’ – against Iacocca’s checklist. It’s a bit of a stretch but it can be done. How about starting with gasbag extrordinaire – that ‘economist’ knowall – who winters in India and summers out West? Amartya Sen anyone?


  6. Anuraag Thursday April 19, 2007 / 6:23 pm

    Leadership does not happen overnight. It takes time. As long as we keep electing people like Katara, things will just stay the course. On a positive note, here’s an inspiring story of courage against the odds:


  7. Manoj Friday April 27, 2007 / 8:52 am

    After reading the first chapter, I ventured to read the rest of this book. Half way through the book, I felt this guy doesn’t practice what he preaches. He expects a leader to be able to accept his mistakes. But he takes great pain to justify his supportive stand for NAFTA and still tries to convince the readers that NAFTA is a fair treaty and US went out of its way to help Latin america. Also he considers Mother Teresa a saint.

    Bunch of baloney man.. Read the first chapter for free and stay away from the rest of the book.


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