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There are multitude of ways by which the success of a leader can be measured – using business performance, operational efficiency, through customer satisfaction, shareholder value created and by measuring employee satisfaction. There is no doubt that all these parameters indeed reflect upon the leaders’ ability to deliver results. However, in my view, a successful leader is one who after his /her tenure prevents a void by developing the next generation of leaders to carry on with the vision of the enterprise even in challenging and changing market conditions.

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence” – Sheryl Sandberg

To make such a lasting impact, a great leader needs to lead by example and build a strong and positive culture within the team on several aspects. All leaders definitely would have followers, but true leadership comes from not just building a line of followers for himself/herself, but because he/she has created a legacy/culture that is in line with the vision of the organization at large.

In any organisation, there are several situations where a leader has to make certain decisions which may impact the organization now and for the foreseeable future. These are largely based on current business performance, assumptions about the future market opportunities and historical data, and of course, inputs from others in the team. Despite all these, many a times decisions made by a leader are reversed after he/she exits the organisation. A key reason for this is the absence of TRUST in the manner of how these decisions were made. Very often, leaders don’t involve their next generation in the decision-making process.  A leader must invest in a foundation for a future built on TRUST so that the next set of leaders can thrive and carry forward the baton.  The question “What will happen when I am not around?” should be the guiding beacon for such important long term decisions.

A common debate that often rages is “who comes first – customer or employee?”. My view is that the “customer” and the “employee” are the two eyes. How can one say that the right eye is more important than the left? Instead I would like to focus on the brain that enables the eyes to function well. The brain (organizational capability) would help the employees to learn and grow in their careers and also enable providing better value to its customers. This is why a leader’s role in building a LEARNING CULTURE is paramount to the success of the organization even after the tenure of the leader is completed. In an ever changing market conditions, what once was a good decision may not sound good now. In such situations, can the team adapt quickly and fine-tune their strategies to still deliver good results?

A great leader, amongst many other things, has to build a system of TRUST and LEARNING CULTURE. These, to me, are the real success measures that will create an enduring organisation.

Author Name: Ravikumar Krishnamoorthy.

Designation: Senior Vice President

Company: Sony India Software Centre, Bangalore

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