We are aware of the saying that knowledge is an ocean. True to that saying it is not easy to measure the length of ocean and dive so deep into the ocean. The boundary of knowledge is illusory like the boundary of the sky at the other end of the ocean. For a change let us break the word and see. It is know[l]edge. Know the edge of anything you are pursuing. It may be the subject matter versatility in your academics or it may be the subject matter expertise in your profession.
Let us relate knowledge to leadership. Obviously a leader should be knowledgeable. He/she should have the cognizance of things pertaining to any moment. Knowledge comes handy for right leadership to aptly lead the team [at every step] to envisioned goals. What is the kind of knowledge a leader should possess? Let us look at it:
Knowledge of the situation:
The situation can be the very scope of work he is handling. The objective he is pursuing. The end-result he is working to achieve. The various pros and cons of situations he would encounter. If a social leader like Anna Hazare gets into a ‘change mission’ he should acquire full knowledge of the objectives being pursued and the extent of end results possible in the given context. Besides, he should equip himself with knowledge of several peripheral situations or contributing situations so that he would not need to modify his goal or deviate from his approach at a later moment.
A leader should know his team. He should know the strengths and weaknesses of his team. He should know how such strengths and weaknesses could be relevantly handled in the goal achievement. He should know the limitations of his team with respect to knowledge, temperament, culture, driving force, weakening element, and may be personal situations at times. A leader may not modify his vision or scope of result going by the team weaknesses but he should have the knowledge of them so that the weaknesses of team members don’t impact the planned result. Let us take the case of Sonia Gandhi Ji as the Chairman of UPA how she had to face peculiar situations owing to the embarrassing notings of certain team members in the party or in the government. No doubt she efficiently took control of such situations. Still the amount of stress she probably had to bear can’t be erased.
Risk is inherent in many of the tasks we take up. It becomes the primary responsibility of a leader to have the knowledge of risk involved in his mission. Risk analysis, defining measures of mitigation and risk management when it occurs would make a leader a true leader. Let us recall the recent situation in the context of Indian Presidential elections. NDA and several other parties have sought the approval of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to contest again for the coveted post of President of India. On the other side of the coin the ruling party UPA declared Sri Pranab Mukherjee as its Presidential candidate. Dr. Abdul Kalam as a true leader foresaw the risk and gently denied his preparedness to contest in the President poll 2012. The step has elevated his personality to further heights.
Knowledge of resource optimization:
Resources are scarce and especially time is a scarce commodity. Patience is a scarce commodity. Endurance is a scarce commodity. For a given mission all these aspects including the material things are resources for any goal achievement. A leader should hold the knowledge of resources available at his disposal and optimally position them for desired result. Leadership may fail just for want of this knowledge. We may take an example where a leader fails in his mission just because he couldn’t estimate the endurance level of his team leading to disintegration of team after a certain level of progress. Scarceness of anything required could lead to scaring results. A leader should have sufficient knowledge of this fact.
Project Management knowledge:
Leadership is obviously a project management task. A leader is a project manager for every mission he takes up. In fact managing every team member is a project in itself as it calls for sufficient understanding of team member’s competence, delivery capabilities, time constraints and effort hour cost optimization.
Even if we don’t speak in terms of professional terminology a leader should imbibe with the best practices of project management to remain a true leader and to grow as a true leader.
Knowledge is everything whether in the context of leading people or projects or leading oneself. Knowledge is divine.