Rainbow Leadership: Do you reflect all 7 colours? - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Rainbow Leadership: Do you reflect all 7 colours?

Jul 30, 2014


The monsoon season is a mixed bag. You pray for it to rain, take away the summer heat, fill the lakes, water the vegetation. But when it rains too much -- the city a mess, roads clogged, trains delayed and clothes damp -- you wish it would stop and be bright and sunny once again.

What's more, the rain has an effect on our moods too. It brings back a sense of nostalgia, takes us to old memories, stirs the unforgettable. You wrap your romantic mood in Jagjit Singh's Yeh kagaz ki kashti, yeh baarish ka pani, sip hot chai, bite into a pakoda and take solace in the pitter-patter of the raindrops.

But above all is the seven-coloured phenomenon of nature, the rainbow. This natural wonder doesn't cease to amaze. I remember how I used to eagerly look out of my classroom window to spot a rainbow after a heavy downpour. Sometimes I would look down and try to catch them in puddles of water.

And when someone managed to spot one, she would shout for everyone to come and see. It was that a-ha moment of catching nature in its purest, most startling form. And it almost always caught us unawares. As it still does.

We may have grown older but the rainbow only gets more captivating... and more rewarding. In an article by The National Center for Atmospheric Research, author Donald Ahrens describes the rainbow as "one of the most spectacular light shows observed on earth".

KPG_Payless / Shutterstock.com

The article further explains the rainbow phenomenon: 'Most people have never noticed that the sun is always behind you when you face a rainbow... The rain, of course, is in the direction of the rainbow'.

This "light show" impacts us for several reasons. For me it reflects life's greatest truths: transience, technicolour experiences, and hope. With the metaphorical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, we chase not just a "spectacular" sight but a story of hope.

This is also what good leadership is about. A leader brings with him a sense of purpose, shows you the bigger picture and makes you a part of it. He brings with him the rainbow and plays the role of the sun, standing behind you, pushing you forward, letting you absorb the seven-coloured spectrum of beauty.

For me, the VIBGYOR colours of the rainbow reflect the 7 key attributes that help us strive toward becoming better leaders. It could be in small enterprises we run or in big organizations where we are called upon to lead groups of people. Leadership can be demonstrated in any area of our lives.

Values: Leadership is about creating values. Values that reflect who you are and what you stand for. Values that will eventually take you or your organization forward and keep it together for years to come. In India, companies like Tata stand for their commitment to integrity, high standards of excellence and compassion toward the people they are working for and working with. And in every venture, Tata Group companies reflect these very values, without even stating them.

Inclusion: Good leaders are inclusionists – they include new ideas, different people and working styles, and even contrarians. They embrace different points of view, accept shortcomings, and include all in their common mission. The shy guy who doesn't speak up in meetings is as important because his work may reflect something entirely different. In an article Are You Practicing These Seven Additional Inclusive Leadership Behaviors? Simma Lieberman puts it nicely - 'Inclusionist leaders intentionally LBO - Look Beyond the Obvious, to recognize, develop and promote employees that may not fit the traditional mold.' Being inclusive will ultimately help leaders create better group dynamics.

Belief: A famous Walt Disney quote goes, "First think, second believe, third dream, finally dare." Most ventures survive the test of time for one single reason -- that some, if not many, have believed in it. They believe in the beauty of what they are creating, in its importance to the world, to the people who work toward it, and in its ultimate rewards. Like the rainbow's pot of gold, they believe the rewards will come... and in abundance.

Growth: An off-shoot of inclusion, a good leader ensures that everyone involved gets an equal opportunity to grow. For each person growth may have a different meaning: Some may want to see a jump in salary, some may want more creative license and some are driven by recognition. While still others simply want more time with family. A good leader identifies what makes each tick, encouraging growth in that direction. Growth in individuals eventually translates to growth for the organsiation. Entrepreneur Richard Branson of the Virgin Group has often said: "My philosophy is, put your employees first, your customers second and your investors third and, in the end, everyone will be happy."

Youthfulness: Staying connected with the young, displaying youthful energy, listening to ideas from today's youth, all go into making leaders more effective and responsive to today's dynamic markets. From a fitness routine to eating healthy to tuning in to today's acronyms like YOLO (You Only Live Once) and JOMO (Joy in Missing Out), leaders do what it takes to stay abreast of new changes that are sweeping the world. Most successful people are often seen chatting with young people and understanding the current generation's angst. Sometimes this happens by engaging in social media, through teaching stints in schools and colleges or by conducting professional seminars.

Organisation: Effective leadership is an outcome of good organisational abilities. Juggling multiple tasks and people is never easy. For this time management is key; optimising each moment and putting it to good use. Multi-tasking, though considered a myth, is an extremely important tool. Closer home we've all seen our mothers and grandmothers cut fruits or veggies while they watch TV in the background. Doing two complex tasks together may not be possible. But if you can combine two easy tasks, it shouldn't be a problem. What's also a good idea is to build systems that run independent of you. The more you delegate and empower employees, the more productive they will become.

Responsibility: As a child my father always told me, "There is only one captain of the ship and he is fully responsible for what happens to the ship." These words still ring true. The buck in leadership finally stops at the leader. When things go wrong, when projects fail, when decisions seem faulty, a good leader always accepts responsibility. And watching him lead by example, others follow, setting off a whole chain of new leaders!

This was my version of Rainbow Leadership. Write to us about which leaders you admire and why. Or tell us about a time in your life when you were called upon to lead.


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10 Responses to "Rainbow Leadership: Do you reflect all 7 colours?"


29 Mar, 2015

Very innovative explanation for leadership using the example of RAINBOW colours. Very creative and useful . It can be implemented purposefully in organisations.

S D Sharma

16 Oct, 2014

Regarding the responsibility of leadership,My mantra to my team members is Credit is yours and blame is mine


10 Oct, 2014

Ms. Ritika Bajaj and the Commence Sense Living are things of fantastic thought provoking, lucid in style and huge in content. they enrich the readers with knowledge. regards.

chandra sekhar sarmah

12 Aug, 2014

Fantastic idea for an able leader,But I am of the openion that One have to be an example in his both private and public life an example for others because everybody will look at him to judge his credibility.

rupa murali

06 Aug, 2014

Hiee.. kudos to you for the article... inspiring and thanks for making us realise that we are all multifaceted personalities like the VIBGYOR.... feeling colourful like a rainbow...

Ashok Kumar Sethi

02 Aug, 2014

Ur article is superb & has influenced a Financial Advisor like me to become once again the Leader of my profession. U hav nicely narrated the Rainbow and its 7 colours VIBGYOR linking to seven most wanted characteristics of Leadership. In every sphere of life, a person needs these abilities and qualities to succeed. But, alas! in our democratic set-up, our Leaders don't have all seven qualities, though they have expectations and that too very high but in regard to "Responsibilities", they lack very much. They wish to be Leader of the Ship but forgets that they have to vacate the ship after failing in their drive to succeed and must way out and exist to hand over the reign to young leader to lead the ship. U have opened our eyes and many inner thoughts are hidden in your article. Please keep us showered at times to come for such more inspiring articles. Once again, many many thanks and congratulations for such bold thought.

Usha B

31 Jul, 2014

Absolutely brilliant take on qualities of leadership. Very descriptive, insightful and inspiring!

aarti aggarwal

30 Jul, 2014

Reading this mail on a rainy day , inspired me and lifted my mood immediately .thinking of the colours of the rainbow and co rekating them with the 7 leadership values made me want to be a better leader my self a excellent read for all . MUST READ !!!

Jaishankar Jayaraman

30 Jul, 2014

Hats off to your thoughts on Rainbow Leadership. My super heroes would be Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, two gems to have ever lived in this world. They are heroes because they lived and died for the people of their respective countries. They both are unselfish human beings and obviously had more qualities than VIBGYOR.

C.V. Subramaniam

30 Jul, 2014

Excellent article! One leader and seven multi coloured approach. We need to enjoy the rain as also the rainbow. One feels that in this world ideas are not lacking; what is lacking is implementation. This is true of Givernment, organisations and why - even individuals too.


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