Leadership Qualities


I wanted to write this post a very long time back. However, due some or the other reason I never got around to writing this post until today. In one of our inaugural MBA classes, we had this lecturer come in and speak on the topic of leadership. After speaking on various traits on Leadership, he divided the entire class into 4 teams and gave each team 4 objects – hat, orange, empty box and a bird’s feather and asked us to come up with 7 leadership qualities from each of the object within the next 15 mins. The object assigned to us was orange.

This is the first time that I have been involved in having such a discussion. After thinking for the next 5-7 mins, I realized that we were not able to come up with any points. Somehow we were not able to visualize any leadership qualities coming out from an Orange. So I decided to ask the lecturer. The very first thing he asked me was what books did I read? Did I read any news papers, any business magazines like Harvard Business Review etc? He then mentioned that the reason I am not able to visualize any leadership qualities from an Orange is because I am not reading enough and I am not reading right. I was very taken aback by this. I mean I have a fair bit of knowledge of what’s happening in the world, read a lot of fiction and biographies. So then he told the team on how to go about thinking on such topics and gave us a few points which I am sharing below. (Point #1 was shared by the lecturer – the rest of the points were created by my team)

1.      Deliver at all cost: A good leader will deliver whatever he has been assigned in spite of challenges. An orange undergoes a very tough journey from the time it is plucked until the time it reaches the supermarket. In spite of it changing hands multiple times, undergoing pick up and drops and remaining in box for say 2-3 days, it still fresh and delivers the best source of Vitamin C

 2.     Transition:  A good leader will mature as time goes by, similar to an Orange, from the time it is a seed to the time it becomes a fruit

 3.     Strong communication: A good leader should have very good communication skills so that uniform message is communicated across all the employees and there is no ambiguity, just like an orange – it communicates that it is the best source of Vitamin C

 4.     People Management: Not all employees are the same, therefore a leader should be able to manage each of his team members in an efficient manner and get the best out of them. Similarly no two slices of orange are the same, however, the orange peel manages to cover all the pieces and ensures there is no damage to the slices.

 5.     Creating new leaders: A good leader should be able to mentor his team members and be able to create new leaders. Just like how a seed of orange creates more orange trees.

 The above were some of the points which we were able to come up with. The best example, according to me, was provided by the team whose object was a hat. As per them, when the situation is all but lost, a good leader will put a bunny out of the hat and resolve the issue – just like magic.

The best thing about the class was it gave an example of thinking outside box. I am hoping that I will get some more such experiences, which I will hopefully be able to share.

4 thoughts on “Leadership Qualities

  1. My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right.
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  2. Yes, without these 5 leadership traits, it’s quite difficult to lead a team correctly and also to have a great working environment. I’ve learned what traits a good leader should have from a Toronto management training course, which was held last year.

  3. I am probably just nit-picking, but a good leader will never ‘deliver at all costs’, nor should he be required to do so. The example your prof gave is actually of ‘managing things (delivery in this case) as well as possible’ – this is a trait of a good manager.

    1. Hi J, obviously when I meant deliver at all costs – it is within acceptable thresholds and not “all costs” in literal terms. In the example, we were discussing the leadership traits of an orange and how it delivers quality Vitamin C even after undergoing a tumultuous journey from the tree to the market. The point being that even Leaders have to deliver irrespective of the challenges that they have. Ex: Vikram Pandit from Citibank – if you remember 2-3 years ago, people were asking him to be removed since he was not able to turn the bank around. He had taken over a bank which was not delivering and had to be bailed out by the bank. Not only has he managed to turn it around, but has also repaid the money given by the government.

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