June 15, 2009

Many able leaders fail to deliver because they fail to connect with grassroots. In any company, it is the grassroots where the real action is and from where the bucks come to run the company. Failure to recognize the importance of grassroots is a sure shot way to lose it all as a leader.

A successful leader has his ears always to the ground. Unless there is a certain degree of empathy between a leader and the grassroots, taking right decisions and implementing them is an uphill task.

The grassroots disconnect is often a result of too much dependence on a few people who are part of a leader's inner coterie. Over dependence on this coterie gives excessive power to this select group of people and chances of misuse of that power increases significantly. Over a period of time, the leader gets only filtered information through his coterie and that information is something which he is likely to hear. As a result, reality gets lost and decisions are made on judgement of vested interest rather than the ground realities.

At the same time, a leader need not get too much dependent on grassroots alone for his decisions. When a leader gets too involved with grassroots without giving due attention to the voice of people at various levels between a leader and grassroots, he often loses the sight of big picture and starts taking decision at micro level. This can lead to another disaster.

A true leader excels at the balancing act. He empathises with everyone in an organization - right from grassroots to his top management team. And the decisions are a result of holistically weighing the realities of a situation seen through the eyes of each and every stakeholder. A leader who consistently delivers is an expert in managing excellent coordination between various parts of the body.