“Change begins with me and ends with me” – this is my maxim and my learning from life.
I can look at change from any angle and I find that nothing changes unless we want to change. Nothing happens unless we lead the change. Let’s look at the family. As a parent, if we want change in behaviour of our children, we have to lead by example. There is no way our kids are going to ritually follow what we tell them. They will happily follow what you show them in your actions.
Let us reflect on self. First let us look at ourselves and our habits. Can change happen because someone gives us advise to change our habit ? Never. Imagine I am addicted to smoking. I am aware of the ills of smoking and its impact on my health. I have been advised by my family, friends and my doctor to give up. Will I do it based on their advise ? I may try and give up temporarily but it does not last forever. However, the day I decide enough is enough, my smoking becomes past tense.
If we look at ourselves as a leader. Is it any different ? I have not seen so. I may be the CEO of a company. I may want everyone to change. But will change happen if I don’t. I don’t think so. Let me illustrate this with a real life example. About a decade and a half ago, I was leading the HR team in a factory. The leadership team of the factory decided that they wanted to prohibit employees smoking inside the factory. They wanted all employees who smoked to go outside the factory gate in case they wanted to smoke. I was happy about it and supported the decision whole heartedly since it was in the best interest of employees. However, I had a request. I said I would like to first talk to CEO if he would go out side the gate too since he was used to smoking in his room. In case, he did not agree, I said, let us not prohibit other employees to smoke inside the factory. I told the CEO that if you do not lead by example, we cannot compel employees not to smoke inside the factory premises. The CEO agreed and our decision was a success in implementation. If the CEO had not agreed and we went ahead in prohibiting other employees from smoking, we could have enforced the decision by exercise of executive power but would have failed because of the lack of moral power.
Even in the public space, we see leaders who do not practise before they preach do not have any personal credibility. On the other hand, leaders who lead by example, are an inspiration for others to follow. It is not only easy to implement a decision but it is easier to communicate and enforce it if we set the tone ourselves.
Gandhiji said – “Be the change, you want to see in others”.
Let us begin today.
S Ramesh Shankar