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One thing a leader can do to encourage risk-taking is to not play blame games when there’s a failure

We spoke with business leader and best-selling author Mainak Dhar about his new book, Leadership in 100 Words at Bloomsbury India. Booknerds: The book is inspired by your LinkedIn posts! Are there any other factors that drove you to choose a book as a platform to promote your learnings as a leader, despite your LinkedIn posts receiving millions of hits? Mainak Dhar: The book was indeed inspired by my LinkedIn posts and the engagement that resulted from them. What led to the book was a request by several people to put down many of these thought-starters in a book form so that they would be readily accessible to them. I thought that was a great idea and began working on the book. While social media is great for engagement, what a book does is to make these ideas accessible whenever readers need them, and also enable deeper reflection on the various themes covered in the book. Booknerds: What is the relationship between quick-witted working and leadership quality? Mainak Dhar: A critical aspect of being a successful leader is adaptability and having your wits around you to understand what is changing around you can help a leader not just react, but often anticipate changes. Booknerds: How would you encourage your team to take a risk and handle it positively as a team leader? Mainak Dhar: One thing a leader can do to encourage risk-taking is to not play blame games when there’s a failure. The whole concept of risk-taking has inherent to it the risk of failure. Good leaders don’t focus on whom to blame when a risk goes wrong, but instead on what can be learned from the failure so that the team is more successful in the future. Booknerds: Many companies collapse within a year or two. As per you, how much is a leader responsible for the downfall in this situation? Mainak Dhar: The failure of a business can be due to many reasons, sometimes beyond the control of a leader, such as changes in the external environment. Also, every business will at times hit air pockets when it sees downturns, despite the best efforts and intentions of leaders. However, what the leader does own is helping take the team through these downturns, taking accountability for helping people land on their feet, and ensuring that they feel supported despite the business challenges Booknerds: Managers frequently blame and pressurize freshers, which undermines their self-confidence. How should a leader express his displeasure without demeaning the greenhorns? Mainak Dhar: Whether a fresher or an experienced employee, a basic leadership trait to cultivate is to not criticise or belittle the person. Focus on the issue. Focus on what can be done better. Help team members learn to do better in the future and not repeat mistakes. Failures can destroy someone’s confidence or they can be great learning moments that help someone emerge stronger. It all depends on what the leader focuses on. Check out Outlook India's and The Print's coverage of the Online Book Launch of Leadership in 100 words. Booknerds: How would you know that you are on the right track if no one appreciates your work as a leader? Mainak Dhar: You know whether you’re on the right track as a leader not by seeking out appreciation but by making a positive impact on those you serve. If anything, as you rise in your career, you’ll get fewer pats on the back, but your confidence and growth as a leader need to be rooted in understanding what those counting on you need, and seeing that you are making a positive impact on those areas.

Booknerds: You have stated in your book that change is inevitable. The role of a leader is to push the team to accept change. What steps do you need to take as a leader to make the changes effective? Mainak Dhar: I’d make one small correction to the question. A good leader should not push a team into accepting change. A great leader anticipates change, articulates why the change is needed so the team buys into it, helps the team cope with the change by ensuring they have the right capabilities and resources, encourages early adopters and those embracing change, and personally role-modelling what the desired change is. In short, a good leader doesn’t push teams to accept change but creates such a pull that the change seems irresistible and desirable so that teams embrace the change. Booknerds: How important is it to build a strong network as a leader; what are the benefits of having a robust network? Mainak Dhar: I believe that having a network is important. However, I’d caution against just forming a bunch of superficial connections in the hope that you benefit from them. The most powerful networks need not be huge but need to be authentic, based on a mutual desire to help each other, to learn from each other, not just superficial, transactional relationships. Having such a network gives you people you can bounce ideas off, seek advice from, and learn from.

- Team Booknerds

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