The telephone rang at six am. They said they would join me at my home for breakfast. All six of them would arrive at my house in an hour. They were inconsiderate to my lack of resources to whip up a good cuisine. Culinary skills aside, I lack even many basic kitchen infrastructure. I knew, I had to deliver in hostile conditions. This was a time for true leadership practices.
I realigned my attention from shock to surprise. Here is a great opportunity to find solutions. I called up my network of two associates. I was open to new suggestions. One of my friend opined that there is a shop nearby that sells cooked ‘Poha’ by kilos. ‘Poha’ is beaten rice and the chief breakfast in Indore. But that is not suitable for the six eaters who are expected in an hour’s time. My other friend suggested that we innovate to modify the ‘Poha’. So here begins the new roller coaster of true leadership.
By seven am, in my house was four kilos of plain cooked ‘Poha’. Along with it my friends had brought embellishments; proportionate quantity of cashew nuts, raisins, ghee, few spices, aromatic leaves and other condiments. At first I measured the restlessness, anxiety and nervousness in all the minds. The leader has to get concurrence from his team on the plan of action. I described to them that we start our work established on contentment within ourselves. The mind which is devoid of severe fixation on the result was needed. Having established contentment, we then proceeded with our innovation. All three of us had to have six hands at its busiest. We had to establish a synergy. Preparing food is a task that none of us were familiar with. Yet leadership demands the ability to switch tasks. So devoid of any expectations, we relented to this demand to be of some utility to the six hungry visitors. Chopping onions and tomatoes, frying the cashew nuts, raisins and other dry fruits, boiling the carrot, beans, garden peas and capsicum, all had to happen with extreme accuracy and speed. Identifying and washing the appropriate utensils was a practice that we severely disliked. Though it’s a compulsion, yet it was a great learning about how to make a new start and graduate to the next level of dexterity. Everybody had to deliver to perfect timing. Each person’s efficiency had to correspond with the other person’s sincerity.
Boiling, frying, mashing, grinding, mixing and crushing opened our camaraderie to new levels of work alignments. All three of us seemed to have a sense of purpose. This sincere effort was punctuated with electricity cuts at intervals. The erratic behavior of our induction stoves was a challenge to focus on our work target. This was in extreme sense of helplessness in constructing a tasty breakfast from minimal resources. Do I deserve to get any credit for this work? If I am undeserving, then the credit may just slip away. I had to agree that at first, one has to deserve and then desire. This is the moment for extreme humility. We have come this far in this task of preparing breakfast from almost nothing. Our attention had to fall on a leadership attribute of ‘gratefulness’. In effect we had plenty to be happy about. Little resources seemed to fall in place, once the ingredients had taken shape.
The garnishing required artistic creativity. My friend focused on the colour combination of yellow, red, green, black and purple from the strands of Chinese cabbage. The other friend suggested the shapes of leaves of ‘dhaniya’, ‘pudina’ and basil leaves. In all the ‘Poha’ was looking very appetizing.
We also wanted to indulge in this new taste that we have created. My visitors called up to say that they would be late by half an hour. This is the test for leadership quality. It has upset our own time keeping. It was difficult to restrain our own salivating tongues from quick indulgence to the fabulous wok-toasted ‘poha’.
Quickly I had to throw in the ingredient of patience. Ensure that there is great emotional appeal in our presentation. The plating, the choice of cutlery, table decor, seating for the six visitors had all drawn meticulous preparation and planning. We had to give a memorable impact of not only breakfast but an entire eating experience. Intuitively we created some ‘dips’ from curd, we innovated a ‘masala chutney’ for additional taste. Our variety of ‘onion rasam’ was made to add moisture to the ‘poha’. We needed to lace it with some banana chips for crisps and some roasted ‘papad’ for crunch.
We were ready for the interaction with the visitors. In the past one hour we had submitted ourselves for a decade of tutelage in leadership. Innovation, intuition, contentment, gratitude, humility, patience and synergy. These are the ingredients for true leadership.
The doorbell rang and in came the six visitors. They were experts from various trendy leadership streams. Hearing the ‘poha story’ they relented that their leadership was all context specific. Converting a holistic context into an intellectual sense was their profession. As such they branded the ‘poha’ leadership as generic leadership. Once again the leadership values are revealed by the ‘poha’ story. It should not be converted into marginal framework. Can we protect the interest of the ‘poha’ leaders from it being converted into yet another fragment? Leadership needed inclusiveness and be made equitable to all its stake holders. The good leader has to know to protect his education of leadership. Welcome to ‘the art of poha leaders’. Are you ready to convert from a trendy leader into a true leader?