Stories That Inspire(6) : Leadership role modelling irrespective of Position

Author : Meeta Johari

Many studies have been done on Leadership and its relationship with holding positions in the corporate world. Research says leadership is about leading and not always co-related with leadership positions.

Normally leadership is associated with job e.g. CEO, President or Vice President, Director, Head. Thus, we relate and associate these jobs with leadership. Different types of leaderships styles like Autocratic, Democratic, Authoritative, Coaching, Affiliative etc. We see leaders using these styles as per their need and circumstances, although, each has his/her own core style.

When we see Leadership in Action and not in position, it motivates and attracts us to that individual, today we will see one such person who believes in leadership in action and not position.

On a cold winter morning, the board room meeting was called by the CEO of a multi-location Indian conglomerate. The meeting was crucial as the northern region sales were depleting due to heavy snowfall and dropping temperatures. There were almost no sales recorded for couple of weeks in few northern states. This was vey disturbing for the CEO as he was concerned about the rising costs and operating expenses without booking any revenue. Interestingly the for some products North was their captive market and heavy revenue route.

The CEO wanted to review the list of his high performers and who can lead the way during these crisis, thus the meeting was called to discuss the list of high performers with the head of functions.

The discussion concluded with identifying all India top key performers viz. Shankar, Bhaumik,  Madan and Zoravar. A Crisis team was formed with the Head of Sales – Sanjeev leading this crisis team. There was a single goal – to get the sales rolling in three northern states within one week. A communication was shared with the North state leads to cooperate with the crisis team and the team was immediately boarded to reach the north head quarter office.

Amongst the four crisis team members; Zoravar was a self-starter and he got into immediate action without waiting for formal introductions and other formalities. He told Sanjeev to give him freedom to work and let there be no expectation of following protocols. With this early setting of ground rules, Zoravar was free to choose and operate. He studied the entire north market and came up with an overnight plan. The challenge was that in Himachal, Jammu and Leh-Ladhak the goods were stranded due to heavy snow, thus the first roadblock was making the logistics arrangement.

Zoravar was on the ground coordinating with local trolly vendors, he was able to identify three  vendors who had capability to transport goods in the snow. He negotiated on time and money with these vendors and with local innovation got ready six truck to wade through in the snow. He led the battalion of fully loaded trucks and ensured that these deliver to the nominated shop vendors in these three states. Second challenge was delivery of goods from shop to customers in snow clad regions, he understood that the shops will only stock and pay if their goods get customers. Thus, he met the local authorities and delivery channel partners to work out a solution. The team was able to work out a temporary solution with help of the local authorities. Thus, after fixing these two things, it was important to support shop vendors to advertise so that they place recurrent orders. Zoravar spoke to Sanjeev to get a special budget approved for advertising. Zoravar was able to turn around with his efforts and gradually the sales started picking up in his assigned region much faster than others.

Was Zoravar holding a position of a leader? No, Zoravar was driven by passion and was focussed on his goal to get the goods to the shop vendors and facilitate sales in his assigned region. Zoravar was an Action Leader – Leaders those who inspire themselves and others to do the right things at the right time. 

Which skills did Zoravar possess to be an Action Leader:

  • Creativity and Thoroughness: Zoravar was thorough in his thought process, his approach to things, he was creative and candid in his approach. He used his creativity to find solutions to the logistics challenge and worked to make it happen.
  • Conflict Management: He was able to manage small and big conflicts while dealing with various agencies.
  • Risk Taker: Zoravar was a great risk taker as he risked his career to accept the challenge to turn around the sales, he didn’t see day and night to work towards solutions and he was continuously in action to manage on the ground, even at places where he could have managed well without being present.
  • Improving thyself: He was a great learner and took the challenge of learning through experience and also accepting that he would encounter new skill requirements during this journey.
  • Optimism: Optimism was in his belief system, he didn’t look back on what ever challenge he found on his way. Where he was not able to contribute directly he didn’t shy away from asking assistance.

Life is about being an Action Leader wherever possible and create that real difference in organisations, personal lives, associations etc. and taking pride in what you could do good in this journey.


Certified Coach, Trainer, Human Resources
Employee Engagement & Organisation Development Professional

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