5 essential qualities of a great leader

Rajiv Sharaf, Senior VP and CIO, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, on the hallmarks of an effective, engaging leader. By Satyaki Sarkar

An engineer in electronics and telecom, Rajiv Sharaf has been with Reliance Infrastructure for the last 15 years. As the CIO he oversees the IT functions for RInfra’s energy verticals like generation, transmission, distribution businesses, and infrastructure verticals like metro, roads, and cement businesses. He is instrumental in assessing the state of technology in the organisation, and then building a strategic roadmap to create a superior customer experience. He is always on a look out for opportunities to leverage in-house knowledge and expertise to enhance value to business/technology by venturing in new businesses. RInfra has filed patent for two products Simplify and R Spot: Mobile Phone-based ‘On Spot’ Revenue Management Application developed by the in-house IT team under his mentorship. Here, he tells us about the key qualities every good leader must have.

1. Be a good listener
“A leader should have the patience to listen to his seniors as well as colleagues, subordinates, and peers. A good listener naturally instils confidence in others by assuring them that they are going to be heard. It’s not about listening just so that you can reply, but listening to understand. If a leader does not listen to others, he will never be able to get an idea of what is really going on with his team. He has to be empathetic, even if he sometimes disagrees with what is being said. If the opinion is wrong, the person will still be grateful and appreciative of the fact that his leader took the time and made the effort to hear him out, and gave him recognition and acknowledgement. If the person is correct it will benefit not only the organisation, but bolster the employee’s and the team’s faith in themselves, as well as in their leader. Many times you will hear of an exceptionally good solution from a person you’d otherwise never even have considered. This is why it always helps to listen and pay attention to everyone’s inputs and feedback.”

2. Be passionate about your work
“If a leader has a burning passion for what he does, then it automatically reflects in his actions. And if the team sees how passionate their leader is, then they in turn get further motivated. From the way you walk and talk to the way you take action, a leader leads by example. It’s up to you to set a standard that subordinates as well as peers are proud to follow. This is how you inspire others to give their best and instil a sense of pride in the work they do. A good leader helps his team fall in love with the work they do.”

3. Lead from the front
“Normally, leaders simply try to give directions, instructions, and commands. However, it’s when a leader actually gets involved in the work alongside his team that he truly makes a difference. The team sees that he’s willing to get his hands dirty to get the job done. It generates a feeling of camaraderie, and makes the leader more approachable and relatable. It’s a matter of being more involved, having a hands-on approach, and leading from the front. Also, if there is a problem, a good leader always takes ownership of the shortcomings or failures. And if it is a success, then a good leader shares the credit with the team. Otherwise leaders tend to come off as aloof, unfriendly, and self-involved.”

4. Be dependable
“A leader needs to possess integrity of character, both professionally and personally. You must be fair, unbiased, and just while taking any decisions. There are a plethora of decisions a leader needs to take on a day to day basis. If he does not take them with fairness and absolute transparency, and lets his actions get affected by biases and rumours, it affects not only his team but also the entire organisation. Ultimately it erodes the team culture and disrupts their unity, as well as destroying any faith they had in their leader. You should be a leader your team wants to follow, rather than one they’re forced to follow.”

5. Willingness to make tough decisions
“You should have the confidence and know how to make tough decisions. Sometimes there might be a matter of extreme urgency, requiring split second decisions holding tremendous impact. In such situations, you must be able to maintain your calm, not buckle under pressure, and take a call instantly, based on your knowledge, years of experience and intuition. In such situations you cannot make excuses or procrastinate. A leader must have faith in himself and be able to accept that out of 100 decisions he takes, two might go wrong. But make sure that the remaining 98 are exactly right.” 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz


  • Posted: December 27, 2016 07:08

    Yudhika Desai

    Leaders set themselves apart from managers. They establish and share vision of their goal for the future of team or organization. Truly believe on these principle Bhai
  • Posted: December 27, 2016 13:51

    mahendra khadayate

    Leadership is the energetic process of getting people fully and willingly committed to a new and sustainable course of action, to meet commonly agreed objectives whilst having commonly held values.
  • Posted: December 28, 2016 18:12

    Chandrasekaran Krishnamurthy

    Excellent advice Rajiv, coming from someone who has demonstrated these qualities in his own career. Preach what you practice is the best mantra, as you have done. I am proud of your performance and achievements .

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