I think that Vineet Nayar hits the nail on the head when he says that “we need organizations that put their ‘employees first’ to drive innovation at the bottom of the pyramid. “ In order for the United States to stay competitive in the global market, it must focus on being a leader in innovation and giving individuals the space to create. There are too many other countries with the capacity to harness sheer manpower and what will set us apart is our ability to harness brainpower.
What struck me is that Nayar envisioned a leadership style that gave each individual the power to contribute his own thoughts and ideas and have someone actually listen. I picture this type of leader being more of a facilitator rather than an authoritarian figure. As we move forward in this century, I foresee this leadership style being the most effective. It allows room for flexibility and openness in large organizations that can be slow to respond—which will be crucial in these fast paced, ever changing times.
In public health, I see this style being particular useful. Studies have shown that the most effective interventions occur at the grass roots level, and putting more power in the hands of individuals creates more capacity for those to occur. Microfinance campaigns, like Kiva, come to mind as present day examples of this. I think it might help organizations that tend to get caught up in bureaucracy (like public health departments) the opportunity to be more dynamic.
For me personally, this style of leadership could be incredibly useful in my future career. My goal is to give a voice to marginalized workers, and it is nice to see someone else acknowledge the benefit of giving people at the bottom creative control. I won’t be able to make any meaningful difference if I don’t listen to what works for them and any ideas they may have. Nayar’s vision of leadership is simple and elegant and I’ve always been taught that the simplest answer is usually the most practical.