In a work environment I’ve found that the reasons to Lead and take responsibility of a team or a group can often be self serving and non altruistic; however, I’ve often wondered what drives people to Lead & push themselves to handle extreme levels of pressure, pain & discomfort for others in a social setting?
Here there is no materialistic motive for doing anything, it’s not that some business target will get missed, it’s not that it’s a matter of life and death or any such issue. You will not even be paid for all your efforts. Yet in social groups you will see leaders emerge and stand out from time to time.
Lessons in Leadership from the Biker Community
I have a few stories to share from which I would like to draw a few analogies on Leadership.
Sarang, was the leader for that Epic ride where he was leading almost 300 riders across the city. He got injured at the onset when a car came hurtling through a crossroad and rammed straight into his left leg. He was thrown some distance and on being helped up, found that he had injured his foot pretty badly. It was bleeding profusely and swelling rapidly.
He could have stopped right then and gone to the hospital; in fact that would have been the sensible thing to do. However, that is not what he did. He rode through agonising pain which was only visible in his eyes; while his demeanour was that of the energetic, passionate and crazy leader needed to guide 300 riders to their destination. He showed immense Courage and Commitment for all riders by riding & leading the group for the next 2 hours.
He was committed to fulfilling the objective of the day and guiding everyone to the required destination. Post getting everyone to the required destination, he excused himself and rushed to the hospital where he found that he had fractured his foot and would be in a cast for the next month.
Why would he have ridden through the pain, when nobody would have blamed him for rushing to the hospital instead of finishing the ride first?
A rider was meant to lead a ride of some 25 riders through an uncharted off-road route on Sunday. The previous evening he was cleaning his bike and made a fatal mistake of cleaning the chain with the engine on. While most of the time nothing might happen, this is risky and on that day it lead to a freak accident where the cloth he was cleaning the chain with, got stuck and sucked his finger in with it. To cut a long story short, he lost the top 2 cms of the middle finger of his right hand. He was rushed to the hospital, rapidly losing blood, where he was suggested a grafting surgery on Monday, for now his finger was cleaned and bandaged tightly to stop the heavy bleeding. On reaching home he thought of the 25 riders who would be waiting for him the next morning, he went to sleep with that thought in his mind. He hadn’t taken a pain killer yet, nor did he plan to after all he wanted to be bright and alert the next morning.
His alarm rang at 5am and he got up and went for the ride next morning, not telling too many people about what had happened to him. He lead the ride for about 6 hours and got back home. He was laid up for the next month after the surgery.
After losing a part of your finger, would there be pain? Why would someone still go and lead a group of people whom you owe nothing to? Would anyone have blamed him for not showing up next morning?
Surinder a pillar of his club, was meant to lead his club to a nearby town for an event. At the start of the day while riding to the start point a dog on the road caused him to fall. While he dusted himself off and reached the start point on time, no one knew that he had a bigger injury. He rode hard, leading the pack to the destination some 120 kms in the pre-dawn winter cold. On reaching and once the event was completed he quietly asked if someone had a crepe bandage, on closer inspection we found that he had a swollen wrist. He had the option to hand over his bike to someone else and ride back in a car that had accompanied them, yet he never shirked his responsibility of leading the group home. On reaching back at 9pm, he found that he had fractured his wrist in the fall at 5am. He had ridden all day without a fuss, he had led the group from location to location ensuring they all got there and back safely. All the while riding through immense pain and agony caused by the fracture and even the very low temperatures at that time of the day.
Why would someone not take the easy way out and handover responsibility to someone else, would anyone have blamed him? How does someone ride through pain and discomfort for no real measurable gains?
One when there was a small group of 5 riders exploring the winding roads, passes and temples of Uttarakhand. During that epic ride, Prakash a new flag holder of his club was nominated as the lead of the ride. Initially, probably because there was no one else who could shoulder the responsibility; however, he proved the decision right further on during the ride. Towards the fag end of the ride he had a fall and broke his wrist; however, ensured he lead the team for the final 100 kms to the end point of the day before calling it quits and heading back to Pune. The irony is that no one else to stepped-up and took the lead for the final 2 days and they all returned too.
Why did Prakash have to lead those 100 kms in the mountains? Why did no one else step-up to continue the ride as a group?
My answer to the above questions is:
How much do you care for the people in your team or group?
Are you worried about what will happen to them if there is nobody to lead them?
Do you feel it’s your responsibility?
How committed are you towards your organisations growth or teams goals?
How important do you feel it is to achieve deadlines of Tasks, Projects, quality?
How committed are you to fulfilling your role in the process?
How committed are you to owning the responsibility for its success or failure?