“Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.” ― Dalai Lama
Q: How did you get into leadership?
A: I served in Indian Air Force for some years, and I learned about leadership from there. The military is an ideal ground to train and groom people as leaders. I joined educational institution as a professor because I am passionate about shaping students as leaders. I researched on leadership since I am passionate about leadership and coaching. I shared my knowledge with working executives in several companies. The response was overwhelming and I started doing more research and authoring books on leadership. I enjoy this journey greatly as I am able to bring in my military experience into educational institutions and companies. Globally baby boomers are retiring and the millennials are not adequately equipped with leadership abilities and skills. Since I belong to Gen X, I can serve as a bridge between baby boomers and Gen Y (millennials). Hence, I undertook the challenging task of shaping young people and students as leaders.
Q: You are regarded as the father of ‘Soft Leadership’ globally. From where did you get the idea of Soft Leadership?
A: I earned my Ph.D. in soft skills. I blended soft skills with leadership and coined a new leadership style ― soft leadership to cater to the needs of 21st-century leaders and future leaders. During my training programs, several participants felt that there is an urgent need for new leadership perspective as the present leadership styles have lost their relevance. Hence, I worked and created soft leadership. I wrote a book and contributed many research papers. One of the research papers is the most frequently downloaded paper in ICT, Emerald, UK http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=17087126. I am still doing on this leadership style.
Q: What is soft leadership?
A: Soft leadership is a blend of both soft skills and leadership. It is leading with soft skills, communicating effectively, persuading successfully, respecting the team members, appreciating diversity, and looking at similarities to accomplish organizational goals and objectives. Soft leadership consists of 11 Cs ― character, charisma, conscience, conviction, courage, communication, compassion, commitment, consistency, consideration, and contribution to make a difference in the lives of their partners. Here are the examples for each C: Mahatma Gandhi is associated with character, Mikhail Gorbachev with charisma, Martin Luther King Jr with conscience, Aung San Sui Kyi with convictions, Alexander the Great with courage, Winston Churchill with communication, Mother Teresa with compassion, Nelson Mandela with commitment, John Wesley with consistency, Dalai Lama with consideration, and Booker T. Washington with contribution. It differs from servant leadership.
Q: How do people learn leadership?
A: People can learn leadership from various sources such as reading good books, teaching and training programs, observation, and experience and from their failures. Books help understand them various theoretical concepts on leadership. Teaching and training programs impart practical aspects on leadership. Observation helps absorb leadership tools and techniques. Experience helps understand what works and adopt the same to become better leaders.
Q: Why are the leadership skills required? Where are they required?
A: Leadership skills are essential in all walks of life. We have military leaders, political leaders, spiritual leaders and business leaders to name a few. They must be equipped with leadership skills to lead people to accomplish their goals and objectives. Leaders help people unlock their potential. Leadership skills help ordinary people become extraordinary people. It provides meaning to their lives as they will be able to justify their professions and contribute their best.
Q: Who is a leader?
A: The mother who leads at home is a leader. The father who leads outside the home is a leader. The educator who leads in the classroom is a leader. The engineers and doctors who lead in their professions are leaders. It is obvious that the one who takes responsibility to lead from the front is a leader.
Q: How did you author 36 leadership books when people find it challenging to author two or three books presently? How do you find your time?
A: I am passionate about acquiring and sharing my knowledge. In classroom teaching, there is a limitation as we reach out to a limited number of participants. When I author a book, I can reach out to many people across the world. When you are passionate about something you enjoy doing what you do. Hence, I enjoy sharing my knowledge in teaching and training programs and by authoring books. I have authored more books because I got a good response from readers. About managing the time, I am a very good time manager with a very high focus on my goals. I get up everyday morning at 3 A. M and write articles. During the day time, I share my knowledge through teaching and training programs and I sleep in the night at 10 P.M. Additionally, my wife and two sons are highly supportive. Remember, passion is the key to your success. Whatever the tasks you undertake, you must be passionate about bringing out the best in you.
Q: How do you get ideas to author books?
A: I do research regularly and write articles and books. During my teaching and training programs participants ask many questions. I reply them. I also get new triggers from them. I have the habit of jotting down the triggers and taking feedback at the end of each session. Hence, I thank my audiences for asking me amazing questions. I always opine that if audiences ask more questions, the session is more interesting. I also receive lots of e-mails across the world with questions. Of course, I receive a lot of feedback from the world about my books. I take feedback positively and improve myself.
Q: What books are you authoring now?
A: I have many books in the pipeline. I have authored a book ’21 Success Sutras for CEOs’ highlighting the challenges of CEOs URL: http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Ceos-Rao/dp/162865290X. It outlines how CEOs led during turbulent times. It highlights the CEOs who turned around their global organizations. It received endorsements from eminent international management thinkers. Secondly I authored a book on my lifetime vision to build one million students as global leaders by 2030 titled ‘Vision 2030: One Million Global Leaders’ http://www.amazon.in/Vision-2030-Million-Global-Leaders/dp/938620231X. It speaks about my passion about students and to groom them as global leaders.
Q: How do you promote your leadership brand?
A: I don’t have to promote my leadership brand. But I have great fans and followers across the world. They approach me because of my four blogs that contain more than 1000 articles and LinkedIn account that contains more than 180 articles apart from my 36 leadership books. I share my knowledge with the world free of charge. I make a difference to the world. People acquire knowledge from my posts, and they build my brand. It is the fans and followers who have built my global brand and gave me the position of international leadership guru.
Q: Who are your clients?
A: My clients are mostly individuals. Some companies also request me to conduct leadership development training programs to their employees. The satisfied clients refer my name by word of mouth to others, and I get more clients.
Q: How do you market your books?
A: Publishers market my books. Companies gift my books during their training programs to their participants. Some trainers and teachers recommend my books. I also offer free book chapters of my books on social media.
Q: Can you share any techniques to positively reinforce your brand?
A: Be ethical in your approach. Share quality content free on social media. Be passionate about what you do.
Q: How do you promote yourself as an international leadership guru?
A: There is no need to promote myself. It is the people who will promote when you add value to them. They are the real gurus who understand the value of gems and follow them. When people have content, they will be noticed and respected. When you look at Peter Drucker, he did not crave for any guru status. It is the people who read his books, respected his knowledge and made him as the father of modern management. Additionally, it is advisable not to run behind “guru” status. Work for satisfaction, not for recognition.
Q: What is your suggestion to new coaches?
A: You should know what you are doing. Love your profession and be passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. Be ethical in your approach. Remember, whatever guru or celebrity you want to become, you must be passionate about it. Ultimately your passion will speak to the people and you will be successful.
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” ― Albert Pike