Lessons in Leadership from Columbia University’s Dr. Hitendra Wadhwa

Wadhwa, Hitendra. “Lessons in Leadership: How Lincoln Became America’s Greatest President.” Inc.com.

Post written by Paula Gean.

What’s the coolest part about working at the Zen Media Group? Aside from staying on the cutting edge of web marketing, we get to use that knowledge to work with some of the coolest clients out there. One such client is The Institute for Personal Leadership. In their most recent webinar, The Power of Paradox, Dr. Wadhwa briefly explains how extraordinary leaders unlock their full potential. Both in the digital world and the real world, leadership is essential to society. So, what does good leadership encompass?

Who is better in leadership roles: Introverts or extroverts?

Extroverts relish social settings, enjoy conversing with strangers, and don’t shirk attention.  Yet, these same desirable traits can also be detrimental.  If someone is always speaking, they’re not listening.  If a person is seeking to be social, they’re missing the opportunity for vital one-on-one conversations.  If someone is always the center of attention, they have little time to decompress and recoup.  So if extroverts aren’t better leaders then introverts must be, right? False.  In fact, it’s neither personality type alone; it’s a combination of the two that make the ideal leader. Ambiverts, a combination personality of extrovert and introvert, are social yet know when to hold back, are at ease in large groups or alone, and can be charming without being overbearing.  If you find yourself constantly dominating a chat room, boardroom or even the family room, you may want to start interjecting less and listening more.

Coping with death: Is it better to experience the stages of grief or try to be upbeat?

Leaders are exposed to a multitude of circumstances that affect their emotions. Some leaders are even tried during times of great personal loss. People handle grief differently; while some experience a gamut of emotions – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – others try to maintain upbeat outlooks. Which coping mechanism should leaders choose? Actually, both are acceptable forms.  The answer to “how one should cope” is as unique as the person experiencing it. Dr. Wadhwa does point out that what’s most important is to not have a polarizing sentiment.   It is important to neither be too riddled with depression nor too “cheerful” – which might just be masquerading true feelings, anyway. Of course, striking a balance between two polarizing feelings is a challenge.  But we transform ourselves into notable leaders if we can learn how to embrace both the sorrow and the “sweet” in life.

Should leaders rule with an iron fist?

Of course not! Good leadership does not rule with absolute power or with closed mindedness. A true leader must be able to place himself in his adversary’s mind. It takes powerful discipline to harness the ability to understand choices from different angles. Only by understanding differing points-of-views can a leader genuinely begin to lead, because once you understand your adversary, you can begin to discuss and forge a path towards resolution with them.

For more on the Institute of Personal Leadership, check out their personal leadership website.


She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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