24 July 2023


Positive Engagement, Alignment of Objectives, and the 10% Formula for Successful Leadership

People wonder what makes a successful business leader. There is no formula. The rules of the  game are not static. The debate is on. New research and more changes bring up new paradigms.  The success of any leader depends on the characteristics of the leader and the skills and drivers 

of the followers, the task in hand, the available resources, the business ecosystem, and a host of  internal and external factors. The leaders do not work in any silos. The context plays a vital role  in determining the leadership style.  

Many models and theories have been developed and proposed. From the old days of ‘The Great  man’ theory and ‘The Traits’ theory to the Transactional and Transformational theories; many  theories have been developed and researched on. The very recent has been the ‘Centered  Leadership’ concept that talks about creating a collective resolve and developing an alignment of  a shared vision for creating a successful business organisation. Some leaders are ‘Eventful Men’ who have leadership thrust upon them by the situation and business contexts; and some leaders  are ‘Event-Making Men’ who leave their marks by their decision-making abilities, risk taking  appetites, clarity of vision, and sheer strength of character.  

Academics and business professionals have all tried to create leadership models to better  understand what makes certain business leaders tick. It is an endless debate on the specific traits  of great leaders and whether leaders are born, or managers can be groomed and developed as  great leaders. One thing is certain that there is no all-weather science of leadership. It is a  combination of science and art. There are certain ‘Emergent Traits’ that are hereditary, which  help individuals become good leaders. But there are large number of characteristics that are  known as ‘Effectiveness Traits’ that could be acquired over a period with practice, training, and  coaching. Examples abound with cases where business leaders are hugely successful with one or  a few ventures, but the same individuals fail miserably at other firms. There is much more to  leadership than what is obvious and visible to us.  

Business leaders must ‘Positively Engage’ with self, team members, and other stakeholders.  There must be sharing of common vision and agreement on the road map for effective and  efficient business performances. Leaders must ensure that personal and organizational goals are  well aligned. Moreover, this must also happen with business partners, investors, and external  stakeholders, in general. Leaders must communicate with clarity and transparency with the  stakeholders. The stakeholders must know ‘What is in it?’ for them. 

A collective resolve and alignment of common vision are important ingredients for any high performance team. The leader must engage with self and invest time and energy in learning and  upgrading skills. It is suggested that leaders should invest, as much as, 10% of their time on self development. It is critical as businesses are conducted in a given environment with competitors  and many other stakeholders having diverse objectives and viewpoints. Leaders must also  communicate and engage with other stakeholders in a way where their objectives and interests  seem to converge.

  • Engage with Self 
  • Engage with Team Members 
  • Engage with other Stakeholders

A great and successful business leader must develop positive emotions around the shared vision and must deal with the stakeholders with empathy. The journey of any business leader is full of  challenges and hence a high dose of commitment and drive is necessary for sustained success.


  • Joanna Barsh, Susie Cranston, and Rebecca A. Craske, Centered Leadership: How Talented  Women Thrive, The McKinsey Quarterly, 2008, Nov 4 
  • Prabir Jha, You Have No Business Being Leader if You Can’t Serve Co.’s Vision, Times of India,  Aug 10,2022 
  • Vineet Nayar, Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders, hbr.org, Aug 02, 2013 
  • Don A. Moore, Max H. Bazerman, Leading with Confidence in Uncertain Times, hbr.org, Aug31,  2022, 
  • Daniel Robotham, Managers vs. Leaders: Different But Equally Important, PenState Extension  (psu.edu), Oct 21,2020