At first the word ‘Leadership’ can be broadly classified into ‘Power Leadership’ and ‘Inspirational Leadership’. The former is best explained with the Industrial era where the manager or the leader is given some amount of power using which he will get the job done from their subordinates. This can be called as ‘Top-down’ approach where using the ‘power’ the task got done. Ranging from Ancient kings to Hitler we can see various examples of power based leadership. The later type of leadership (Inspirational) can be explained with the type of leadership that is required in the Knowledge era. Here the leader needs to inspire others and enable others to achieve great things. This can be done mainly by ‘Leading-by-example’ rather than giving FUTTAs or ordering. This is totally different from the ‘Power leadership’. This can also be called as ‘Bottom-up’ approach.
Second going back to Indian history our country is been invaded and exploited for the past two thousand years by various foreigners. We have been suppressed and became victims of ‘Power Leadership’. So in spite demonstration of excellent Inspirational Leadership by people like Gandhi most of us are still in the power based world. We derive pleasure and gain social respect when we demonstrate the power leadership than the inspirational leadership.
Coming back to the knowledge industry, the position of ‘Manager’ offers more amount of power than other positions say for example a software technical specialist. And also our society which mainly consists of ‘Coffee-drinking-Hindu-paper-reading’ middle class uncles and aunts who attach more value when their son or daughter manages a dozen engineers rather than design a software product from the scratch. For power based people the number of direct reports is important than amount of innovation or product ideas that the team generates. Also I have seen numerous managers feel extremely uncomfortable when the number of direct reports reduces because of organizational restructuring. This also explains why our software companies are performing exceptionally well when comes to ‘Services’ based model which requires more and more managers rather than ‘Product’ based model.
But According to Stephen Covey (The 7 habits author) the whole world is changing from ‘Independent’ to ‘Interdependent’ mode and which suits to the knowledge industry very well. No individual or organization can control the business by the use of power. Individuals in the knowledge age need to work with others in a ‘Synergistic’ way because knowledge is in abundance and it is impossible for any individual to possess the whole knowledge. This indirectly means there will be more need for ‘inspirational’ people rather than ‘power’ based people.
In Indian tech industry the perception of the word ‘manager’ should change. The manager position should be seen as a way to enable others and adding value to the business rather than power-centric thinking. Apart from that the dire need of today’s knowledge industry in India is to proceed towards product innovations with a sense of urgency where more ‘hard-code’ contributors with ‘inspirational’ mindset is required. We should think in these terms and make the paradigm shift to the inspirational way if at all we want to make a difference in the knowledge Industry.