Friday, March 12, 2010

Hey Leader! Show me your wares!

The Law of Supply & Demand Reigns Supreme - Even in Leadership

It shows up everywhere. In the marketplace. In romance. In sports. And almost everywhere in between.

Supply is how much of something is available. Demand is how much of something people want. In many ways, leadership follows the basic ‘Supply and Demand‘ framework.

Easy Math

Here is some quick economics for you. The economic model of supply and demand says that price will function to equalize the quantity demanded by consumers, and the quantity supplied by producers, resulting in an economic equilibrium of price and quantity. But what needs understanding is that the product/service has to be presented even before the price can be fixed.

Similarly, in matters affecting common good, the supply (leadership) and the demand (followership) both require a mechanism (common purpose) that can result in an equilibrium. But, like in the paragraph above, the underlying motive/desire has to be explained to arrive at the common purpose, which will satisfy both the leaders and the followers.

Just like higher prices threaten to reduce the demand and make it incumbent on the supplier to improve the quality to keep up his sales, a higher common purpose creates great followers only if the leaders take their roles earnestly. Likewise, lower prices increase the demand and tempt the supplier to decrease his quality to make profits, similar to what a selfish common purpose does in providing crass leadership to unsuspecting, gullible followers.

Leadership Equilibrium

For example, if there is a demand for increased feelings of safety, then there is a supply for that element until the common purpose is arrived at. To reach this equilibrium, many leaders will enter the arena to solve the problem. Similarly, there remains a constant demand for developing the human resource, due to which there is a constant supply of leaders to meet the demand, which never ceases. Hence, there is always a search for better leaders.

Your Leadership Level

It is here where you have to decide where you wish to position yourselves, or, where they you think you can make the difference.

•People who try to address the basic needs of life – like food, clothing, repair and maintainance – in the most basic ways, find solace in serving the small groups of people with the best of their abilities and settle down as shopkeepers/small service providers.

•People who take on challenges within their communities and call upon themselves to serve the higher needs of the people. They become teachers, doctors, and lawyers.

•Those who, while addressing basic needs, see the opportunity to take bigger challenges and risks and end up becoming contractors, suppliers, businessmen and traders.

•Yet another segment of people take on the higher responsibility of managing the above leaders under them and take on the roles of industrialists, political leaders and the ministers.

•Then there are specialists who serve in an indirect way, like the people in the IT, entertainment industry, the military, and the bureaucracy.

•And lastly, the support group of scientists, thinkers, economists etc. whose valued contributions make a difference at the highest levels by steering the others in the right direction.

Now, it is the way in which people in different roles carry out their jobs that makes them leaders. Position is but a platform for them to make things happen. The intent and the action carried out will decide whether they have truly inspired the followers and as a result, fuelled more demand. So, while all the people in the above segments have the potential to become leaders, not all of them translate their actions to help others. Greed, selfishness, inability, ineptitude, or sheer helplessness can keep even a performer from becoming a leader.

Leadership Supply Chain

All the above segments of people fit into the supply chain which works towards making this world a better place to live in. The issue is for them to understand the meaning of this supply chain, where exactly they fit in (their Raison d’être), and what is their value proposition.

In other words, the message for the leader within each one of us is, “Hey Leader, Show me your wares! Show me what you have to sell?" And answer the following: -

1. Are you wanting to sell a product/service/concept?

2. Is what you are selling, something that there is a demand for?

3. Are you selling with the right intention?

4. Are you equipped to sell what you intend to?

5. Is what you are selling a mere win (only I win), a win-win(I win, you win), or a win-win-win (I win, you win, purpose wins) formula? Remember, more the winners, stronger the legacy that you would probably leave behind.

So, while potentially all of us can become leaders, essentially many of us don’t, as we fail to recognise what it takes to lead. Simply, showing our wares in a mindful manner to arrive at Common Purpose for everyone’s benefit.

This blog post was originally posted at


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