Peacetime Leaders or Wartime Generals: Which One Are You? | Tech Mahindra

Peacetime Leaders or Wartime Generals: Which One Are You?

“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression.” COVID-19 has made us relook at Chuck Palahniuk’s iconic lines from Fight Club. Purpose, place, war, depression … the bygone year proved how we have all of that, and some. The Coronavirus outbreak started a war that has united the world in a unique way. This is not our first crisis and will not be our last. However, this is a war that will be far different from any that we have fought. It is a war that needs us to confront the reality of these times and accept that we are in a state of emergency. This is the only way we can win this battle.

This crisis also necessitates us to move from being Peacetime Leaders to Wartime Generals. What differentiates the two? Wartime Generals do not have the luxury of time, and so, need to be agile, think fast and act faster. It calls for leaders to be focused and yet open to revisiting strategies, take bold risks, judiciously deploy their resources and above all, work tirelessly till the war is won!

Wartime Generals rally their teams, keeping their leaders engaged, motivated and communicate clear, crisp messages frequently. I am glad to see our teams and leaders staying connected through this period using various mediums and initiatives. Again, in war, nothing is sacrosanct and nothing that cannot be changed. It's war. Everything needs to be questioned, and every alternative needs to be explored. So, make war against fixedness. What worked yesterday may not or will not work today. And, we must be prepared for that change. We must BE that change.

There is a story that has always stuck with me and seems appropriate to share in these trying times. A little girl is on a flight and there is a lot of turbulence. She sits bravely while the rest of the passengers are terrified. When asked why she wasn't scared, she answered, "My dad is the pilot, and he is taking me home."

It is pertinent to ask; are we those leaders whom our teams trust to take them home safely? Do we command that level of faith in our teams? When I think about answering that question, it is always a resounding yes. We have born leaders amidst us and are fortunate to have many who have been tested in war. Over ten years ago, we fought and won against a major crisis and I have faith that we will do it again. The speed of thought and execution is key here. Post Covid-19, some companies will go under, some will struggle to survive, and some will be inundated with demand. Most sectors will be relying on tech companies to reshape businesses and we are at the heart of that technology. If we stay focused, driven, and determined, we will win this war.

At the same time, I am equally proud of the work we are doing for communities at large – in collaboration with startups, the private sector and the government to enable a billion Indians to Rise and combat the pandemic digitally. We are working with governments, central, state and international, on multiple initiatives to retrofit, deploy and build solutions afresh across several areas.

We are seeing a flattening of the curve in almost all parts of the world but are we safe yet? Probably not. Do we have a cure? Not yet. Have our communities developed the immunity to fight this? Maybe no. So, yes, it is an enormous challenge and it will be a long battle. We must accept that this IS the new normal. And what will help us win this war is our ability to seize this new normal and define it for ourselves.

One of the biggest challenges that we will face during this war is the battle against monotony, lethargy, and wastefulness, which can shadow all of us at such a time. We can spend time in 30,000 different ways, but there is only one way you are going to succeed tomorrow and that is if you are relevant tomorrow, and to be relevant tomorrow you need to address the next now. I will talk about this in detail in my next blog.

So, are you a Peacetime Leader or a Wartime General? Or both? I’d love to hear your stories & experiences.

CP | Connect with me on Twitter.