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[G Ravindran]

'Is it leadership or laddership?'
The question and play on words kept me awake (and not just because it looked like a dig at my present vocation).

4.05 Monday. I could actually taste the air, not just smell it, though the Mumbai dump-yard fires are said to be off. It got me out of sleep but what kept me awake was the word. 'Laddership'.

The 20 year old was dead serious popping the question last night. Clearly she had her eyes on getting to the top. As did most of her peers. And there I was still reading from books on 'leadership'!

Schools and colleges are a lot about coming first'. Ask any parent.
Careers are all about being successful. Not merely doing well, but coming out on top. Ask anyone employed.

And its not just them today's youngsters. I was like that. 20 years back. So were my friends and those around me even 40 years back. Even the so called man-on-the-street was going somewhere, always wanting to become something.

But we all know that this stuff is not being taught. We are still doing math, and science and language and that kind of thing in class. And management schools are still teaching motivation and 5P's and strategy and leadership and things like that. But all that's coming out of it all is the 'unintended learning' of competing, winning and coming out on top. Laddership.

So I wonder. Maybe it's not such a bad thing. After all, it's been around a long time, and everybody's doing it. So why not we go right out and teach this 'ladder' stuff itself, and not pretend that we are preparing and developing people otherwise.

Wait a minute. Let's say it's not such a good thing, and there is today a disconnect between input and outcome. So, if we want a different output, it follows that we should change the input so that the result is something different. Pack the math, management etc. and teach out the laddership stuff. Then maybe people will do the disconnect and value things like 'leadership' rather than just competing, beating others and trying to keep winning.

Both ways it seems to make sense to focus on what people really want out of life. How to do well, better, best others. And it would definitely spare some of us the blushes of vainly sermonising about so-called nobler things like leadership.

Maybe, we just spelt it wrong all along, and laddership was really the word. Always was. Do we dare change it?
Maybe it's the early mornings and the air...

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