Updated: Sep 10, 2019
He wasn’t too big or dangerous looking and neither did he scream, shout or pick up the stick at his students. Teacher Dinshaw N. Irani from the Sardar Dastur Hoshang Boy’s High School in my hometown of Pune, India was a tall, angular fair-skinned and a somber faced gentleman with graces and courtesies leftover from an English era. His hair was close-cropped and his clothes, usually, a pastel blue matched with a light khaki trousers and thick sandals on his clean feet.
Effortlessly, he used float from class to class teaching History and English to classrooms full of rowdy, teenage boys except that in his presence they used to all behave like angels in a church choir. Yes, he had that presence, that charisma and gravitas about him that people stopped all that they were doing to listen to him with downcast eyes. He was, in fact, so good at this presence and charisma thing that all other teachers used to call upon him to bail them out from a classroom gone wild. And, all he used to do was float into a chaotic class, stand still at the entrance for a while then glance around, fold his arms across his chest and slowly say the words: “What are you doing? Have you no shame? Do you wish not to learn?” In an instant the storm in the class would form and norm into a bunch of quiet, studious angels.
For years and decades since then I used to wonder why was it possible for him to have such power and command over people whence others failed at it. Why was it that a bunch of hooligans would turn into quiet, boy scouts in at the sound of his voice? He did not scream, shout, raise a stick or punish us in any way.
Today, from insights into leadership, emotional intelligence and the neurosciences I conclude one that teacher Dinshaw N. Irani truly and authentically cared for us, his kids from a school with a reputation. The fact that we sensed and knew that he cared for us gave him that power over us.
Leaders across all walks of life need to know and truly lean upon the fact that people can and will follow you to the end of the earth if they know that you care for them. A father that truly cares becomes a role model for his children to idolize, love and help them become better citizens of the world. A business owner that is truly compassionate towards his employees will earn more than just an extra mile from each of his employees but will end up creating and cultivating a strong and a self-driven enterprise. Corporate heads who live out a value known as ‘malasakit’ in the Philippines will build great teams and unleash productivity and profitability in his organization.
This is one powerful leadership competency that cannot be learned in a classroom. You can pick it up and make it a part of your own authentic personality when you get into the pits of failures, successes, heartbreaks, disasters and celebrations with your teams day in and day out. It will become a part of your trait when you keep your eyes on brilliant horizon for your family and communities and slog together towards it. This is one leadership competency that you cannot fake it, till you make it. You have to really make it such you will never have to fake it. It is called compassionate leadership. You truly care for your people and your customers before, during and after every moment, after every endeavor and after every journey towards a brilliant horizon.