An effective leader should not see herself as different or special from the team she leads.
Being part of the team, staying together or being treated the same brings great loyalty from the team.
I’d like to share a story which relates to this topic.
Hanumant Singh played cricket for India, was the manager of the Indian cricket team, a selector and a very fine batsman. He was also a great leader of people and cricket captaincy came very easy to the royal prince of Banswara, a place in Rajasthan, India.
Long after Hanumant Singh (player profile) had played his last game for India and Rajasthan, the great man still continued to play for State Bank of India (SBI), one of the premier teams in the country. Needless to say he was captaining the Bombay Circle team in the All India State Bank tournaments.
In one such tournament, the Bombay team went to Ahmedabad to play 3 league games. As soon as the Bombay team landed at Ahmedabad railway station, the local SBI branch manager came to receive the team at the station. In reality, the branch manager came to receive the prince, who was also a Chief Manager at the bank.
Singh was drive off in a car to a five star hotel. The rest of the team was taken in a bus to a circuit house (usually a government house that serves as a hotel) close to the stadium some kilometers away from the stadium where the tournament was to be played.
All registration formalities at the hotel were completed by the branch manager and Singh was taken to his room. The first question Singh asked the manager was, “where is my team”?
Singh fumed when the information about the team’s location was revealed. Without hesitation, he asked the branch manager to arranged for him (Singh) to stay in the circuit house with the team and also asked for a cook to be arranged to stay with the team as well.
The team was not surprised when riding to the circuit house in the bus without the royal prince. Their eyeballs popped out when they saw Singh (bags and all) arrive at the circuit house to stay with them for the duration of the tournament.
I was not fortunate (or good) enough to be on that tour, but my close friend who was, tells me this story even to this day. He would run through a brick wall for Singh any time.
The loyalty comes from seeing the leader around the team, staying together, eating the same food and basically being an integral part of the team.
Singh totally internalized this and such actions came naturally to the great man. He had many followers who would just jump of a cliff at a mere gesture (I am one of them).
If you aspire to be an effective leader of teams, this is a great quality to understand, recognize and imbibe.
Please share any stories you may have seen or experienced, in this context.