8 modern-day lessons from Indian Army Leaders

Indian Army Leaders

Timeless wisdom from lifelong experiences of the veterans in uniform

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way

– John C. Maxwell

We can’t talk about India without being proud of the real heroes who have led the country to greatness. The Indian army has produced some of the best leaders in the world who are brave, selfless, dedicated, and insightful. These leaders have fought all odds and challenges to be in a position of respect from where we can only learn from. The corporate world is much similar to the Army as they both are relentless in their pursuit of a successful mission, and just like the army, it also faces some challenges which is why there are many skills that we can learn from the army leaders that are valuable to the individual as well as to the organizational requirements. 

Here are some transformational skills to learn from the army leaders to learn for any professional or personal development that successful leaders need to possess-

1. Lead without authority

In the changing world, it is essential that we learn that the coming generations have different motivation paradigms than previous ones. It is important that we realize that the millennials today, wouldn’t accept dictatorial authority from their own parents, so why would they accept that from their bosses? Leadership is a choice you make rather than a position. In other words, leadership comes from influence and not from your position. For this reason, even if you’re not at the top, you’re still leading those around you. 

Capt. Raghu Raman

“when people want to follow you they will always give you their best; while, if they only follow you because they have to, they will always give you the bare minimum that they can get away with.”

– Captain Raghu Raman

Capt. Raghu Raman, with his unique career spanning over a decade in the Indian Armed Forces, another decade as a CEO of three companies in the Mahindra Group, and several years of experience in the Government, brings leadership lessons from the Armed Forces that can be leveraged by each one of us. According to him, Learning to lead without authority is difficult, especially for those who have led with authority all their life. But we are out of choices now, as the workforce of the future cannot be led by authority. 

2. Embrace ambiguity with agility

For any leader, it can be a challenge when it comes to leading in uncertain times when things are volatile, ambiguous, and when it’s unclear what’s going on. So for leaders, it is crucial to become ambiguity absorbers in order to ensure purpose, meaning and energy among their people. In the times of ambiguity, it is better to take action rather than wait for someone else to tell you as something will work when you try a lot of things, assuming that working hard only lead to good results.

Major D. P. Singh

© Major D.P. Singh / The Free Press Journal

If you ever wish to give up anythingGive upgiving up

– Major DP Singh

Major D. P. Singh is a retired officer of the Indian Army and a Kargil War veteran, also known as ‘India’s first blade runner’. He was “declared dead” in an army hospital in July 1999 during the Kargil War. He was revived by a specialist, only to be told three days later that his right leg would be amputated below his knee because gangrene had set in. After learning this, he told himself, “now I will show the world how disabled people live. I was sure I will never compromise the way I lived”. His life story is truly inspirational and ‘A Never Say Die’ attitude makes him a motivation for one and all.

3. The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionable integrity

The historical surgical strike by India on Pakistan is year September 2016 was his brainchild, something that really had high impact on India-Pakistan dialogues. His career has spanned a course of more than four decades, wherein his great valour and strategic planning garnered for him, a myriad of accolades.

Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda

“There is undoubtedly an essential minimum requirement of soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but with advances in technology and artificial intelligence, there are many areas that could be made human-free.”

– Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda

Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda was the Northern Army Commander during the ‘surgical strike’, with a career spanning forty years, he has served on both the Northern and Eastern borders of India. His 4 decades of career at the world’s second biggest army has been a highest level demonstration of leadership with integrity, in absence of which several momentous projects were simply not possible.

4. Diversity and Inclusion is a mighty tool to gain strategic advantages

Today, the competition for talent is fierce and there is a need to have definite policies and plans in place to recruit, develop and retain a diverse workforce. A gender-inclusive diverse workforce is progressively being accepted to contribute to improved performance of any organization. High levels of diversity and inclusion in the workplace are associated with greater productivity, innovation, and workforce well-being. The inclusion of women soldiers in the Indian Army is a glorious example that many can learn from.

General Manoj Mukund Naravane

“forty years down the line they (women) could be standing where I am standing now.”

– General M.M. Naravane

General M.M. Naravane is a retired Indian Army General, who served as the 28th Chief of the Army Staff and also the Officiating Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He is a decorated soldier who served the army for more than four decades. During the General’s tenure as a Chief, India saw the enrolment of women soldiers in the ranks of the Corps of Military Police, induction of women Pilots in the Army Aviation Corps, and the beginning of the inclusion of women cadets in the National Defence Academy (NDA). These developments were hailed by him as some of the most substantial steps towards gender equality in the armed forces.

5. Work on your calling

We all are working hard to attain out purpose. But sometimes in the race and competition with the outer forces, we forget our authentic selves and what we truly want. It is essential to slow down when you start losing yourself and find what really brings the passion and purpose to your life by discovering and following your calling.

Major Vandana Sharma

“Work on your epitaph, not on your resume”

– Major Vandana Sharma

Major Vandana Sharma is an ex-army officer, and a senior industry leader who represents the face of today’s multi-talented bold Indian woman who challenges men in every field from the country’s defense to the corporate sector. She risked and rose through all the difficulties life had to proffer and followed her true passion. She continues to inspire and motivate people to break the rules and follow their hearts.

6. Never be nonchalant with safety and security

We feel so safe and guarded due to the commitment of our forces. Just like how our soldiers are working hard with dedication to protect the nation’s security, we can also learn from them and make every effort to safeguard and help with the protection of the client and other designated areas/locations against unauthorized access, loss prevention, sabotage, and other criminal acts.

Gen Bikram Singh

© Gen. Bikram Singh / The Indian Express

“We have to create a mechanism in our country, which safeguards the interest of a captain/major who is carrying out operations today, so that ten years down the line, this mechanism takes care of him.”

– General Bikram Singh

General Bikram Singh, is a retired Indian army officer who served as the 24th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He has been very vocal about upholding the security of the nation and his dedication towards the protection of the external as well as internal security. The peace that our nation enjoys today is bestowed on us by the dedication and hard work of soldiers like him.

7. Awaken the soldier in you and play life like a sport

26 out of the 46 Presidents of the US have served in the military and 14 have been athletes at the college level. This shows how sports works like a game changer and helps in building leadership. The best thing about sports is that you don’t have to be a professional player, you can just pick a sport you like and make some time off your schedule in order to play it. It not only is helpful for you physically but also is helps relieves stress and helps you focus.

Lt Gen Balbir Singh Sandhu

“There is a soldier in every citizen, we don uniforms in school, we cheer for our teams, we share that feeling and we the joy of victory and losing and this is what I call as the universal concept of soldering”

– Lt. Gen. Balbir Singh Sandhu

Lt. Gen. Balbir Singh Sandhu is an army veteran who is the Vice President of the Indian Polo Association (IPA) and advisor to the President of the Equestrian Federation of India (EFI). According to him, soldering and sports are the true pathway to leadership. He carries the value of a soldier and shares his vision to make sports the game changer towards leadership. He emphasis on awakening the soldier in one and playing life like a sport, where a goal is a goal and a foul is a foul and how you should also take your victory or loss like a sport.

8. Work on repairing the world

Helen Keller once said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” You can be a true leader by taking little steps as they are also valuable to the society. A leader is someone who believes in working together to make the world a better place. As the world needs a lot of repairing and leaders can help by making people understand the value of their own life and value the life of all people.

Wing Commander Namrita Chandi

“We no longer are looking for revolutionizing or reinventing, we just need repairing, because so much of damage and harm has been done over a period of time because of our misconcepts of what really progress is or evolution is, of what economic development is, and there’s a need of love, the world needs love”

– Wing Commander Namrita Chandi

Wing Commander Namrita Chandi is an accomplished ex-Indian Air Force helicopter pilot and also the first woman in the world to have flown in the Siachen Glacier. According to her, every person has an obligation to contribute to make this world a better place in whatever way we can and the smallest and easiest way to do is to spread some kindness and some love as it is the need of the hour. She believes in setting up the right standards and the right priorities not fight for building hierarchies, power and dominance, which is what the universe wants us to do.

In the corporate world, collaboration and teamwork remain some of the most important concepts and it becomes the responsibility of leaders to make sure that teamwork stimulates creativity, builds a sense of community, increases productivity, improves problem-solving, and leads to innovations. And what better way to learn that from the Army heroes who are synonymous to leadership.

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