What makes a great leader?

Priya Dar, Chief Information Officer, Godfrey Phillips, NEXT100 Winner 2016, shares her observations on who she thinks is a leader and the essential traits that a new leader must live by

What makes a great leader? - IT Next

Sometimes you will need to lead the troops and at other times you will have to nudge your people to take the plunge

“Who is a leader?” - My 13-year old son asked me one day. This got me thinking. Having spent some time in the leadership spectrum, this is a hard truth to live by. You have to constantly ask yourself: Are you a leader? A good leader? A conscientious leader? A just leader?

Is he/she the one who stands front and center or is he/she the one who stands in the back ensuring everything goes well? After taking a scholastic approach and reading a bunch of good articles, I think I have learnt a few things about leadership.

Anyone can become a leader. It is not a born with quality – it is a learnt one. Are you a team player, are you decisive enough without letting your ego get in the way, do you communicate, are you approachable, do your people know you have their back.

Change with the Demand

Sometimes you will need to lead the troops and at other times you will have to nudge your people to take the plunge. Access the situation and decide.

Be Decisive

Not with an iron fist though. Any attempt to rule with an iron fist will go down like a lead balloon.

Keep Learning

However, high on the career graph, you should be open to learning from anyone around you – irrespective of rank.

Be Appreciative

Just because it is a job, does not mean, you cannot appreciate small things. I have learnt from experience that appreciation begets loyalty, which is at the core of a successful leader.

Pace Yourself

Just because there is a book called “First 100 days of a CXO” does not mean you have to complete everything within 100 days. Every organization is different and so the list of accomplishments will be different.

Build Relationships/Network

Build your network - internally and externally. One of my mentors used to say this – a lot can be accomplished over a cup of tea.


As you go higher up the corporate ladder, there are things you will have to delegate. Create the bandwidth for yourself by delegation and then let the delegate handle the day to day stuff.

Lead by Example

If you want people to respect policy – start following it yourself. I have seen people preach about the benefits of strong passwords while their own passwords are “abc123.”

Don’t Forget to Enjoy

You have earned it. Ultimately my answer to my son was on similar lines – a leader is not just someone who leads but someone who inspires others to follow. 

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