The Dilemma of Leadership


I’ve always debated on what really is the best approach to leading organisations and teams. Should you be visionary or should you be practical? The most obvious answer is: be both, which of course is ideal, but we need to look at it deeper. I recently read an article on this and found it quite enlightening.
Let’s begin by understanding the concepts. A pragmatic leader is a ‘do’ person who is focused on the practicality of the task. He/ she is more in tune with the ‘How do we get this done?’ side of doing business. A pragmatic person may have a negative approach sometimes to the point of being cynical in certain situations in order to achieve the end goal. Visionary leaders are on a different tangent altogether and focus on the larger scheme of things. They may tend to focus more on the end rather than the path to get there. This makes the visionary guys more of idealists and the pragmatic ones more of realists.
The most obvious inference would be to adopt both. Common sense would lead to it. The point is, pragmatism and idealism work together not against each other. Mixing these thought processes helps keep a balance. It’s important to take risks, seeing the glass half full – positive thinking and at the same time be realists and think as carefully and rationally as possible considering all scenarios before really making a choice (ie combining a pragmatic and idealist attitude). It’s been found that the most effective leaders are always those who combine idealism and pragmatism. They set an agenda, have goals, know what they want to achieve, use action plans and do what is ‘right’. There are leaders who are pragmatic idealists and they are naturally more effective. They are often the most driven of the lot and feel that they know what needs to be done.
Over the four years that I’ve been with AIESEC, I have discovered a lot about my own leadership style. No matter what organisation you may work for, you still need leadership to drive results. Through its many ways, AIESEC has empowered me to understand my own style. Every year AIESEC provides over 20,000 leadership opportunities across the globe to students. You may work on small-size student exchange programmes or largescale events. AIESEC also gives you the chance to work in global teams through its network across 110 countries. The most amazing part about AIESEC’s leadership platform is that it gives you practical exposure. Our generation needs to wake up and answer the call of leadership. We need leadership across sectors to drive society and make a difference. As is often said, “If something has to change, someone has to change I,” and AIESEC could be a platform that equips you to do that.

By Prithvish Uppal, Director Communications & Information Management, AIESEC India

Volume 1 Issue 7


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