Posted by: Arjun Aiyar | June 3, 2013

A Leader Beyond Ego

The idea herein is a product of interaction with scores of leaders.

Much has been said about a leader’s role in helping their team to achieve its goals. The deliberation is often around the subject of – how much help is appropriate. When does ‘help’ transmute to ‘hinder’ in leadership and motivation? To what extend must a leader aid and support their team?

In his book, Conversations with God – Part 2, Neale Donald Walsh highlights the distinction between the words ‘empowering’ and ‘disempowering’.

When a leaders help is offered in manner that fosters dependence, the inevitable outcome is disempowerment. Considerate and kind though the acts may be, the underlying emotion behind such action is compulsion and not compassion! Regrettably, the leader is duped into feeding his egotistical need (compulsion) for self gratification and recognition.

Compulsion cultivates weakness – in the follower and also within the team. The leader is gratified and simultaneously deluded. His gratification comes from a sense of fulfillment – of having helped another. The delusion is that this act of assistance adds long term value to the recipient. Over time, the gratification predictably morphs into frustration – leaving the leader with a highly dependent and inadequate team.

It takes wisdom and a sense of astute discernment to ensure that the primary objective of benevolence is to create independence. To give people what they need rather than what they want. This is the essence of empowerment. Self assuredness, poise and humility are virtues of a leader who is willing to let go. Loyalty and allegiance is the natural consequence. Teams that are built on this foundation don’t just survive – they thrive.

A test of whether you are helping or hurting: Are your team mates enlarged or reduced as a result of your help? Have you made them bigger or smaller? More able or less able?

The goal is to help the weak grow strong – not dependent. An ancient adage says ‘Give a man a fish, and he will eat for the day; Teach him how to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime’.

(Arjun Aiyar is an entrepreneur, corporate trainer, executive coach and motivational speaker based in Dubai. He has two training companies – one in India and the other in the UAE. His organizations cater to corporates and individuals by providing training and coaching in soft skills and behavioural areas. Learn more about Arjun’s business on or or read his other articles on his personal blog )


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