Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Monday, March 24, 2008

Leaders follow the rules they make

Framers of the rules should be the first to come under those very rules.

As branch manager of one of my bank's important branches, I found myself flooded with the staff's requests for contingency purchase of stationery and other necessary office articles. Since it was leaving me with little time for my main job, after consultation with my colleagues, I set up a purchase committee of three members – my deputy, the loans officer, and the chief of the staff union – to meet at least once in each calendar month to consider the requests for local purchases. If they all agreed, a recommendation was to be made to the branch manager (i.e. me) for his approval for the purchase. The branch manager had the power to veto purchase of any recommended item but could not, on his own, add an item to the list. Once I required a wall clock, costing less than US$ 10, for my cabin and requested the purchase committee to consider its purchase. For some reasons, the committee did not meet for more than a month after my request and the clock could be purchased only later. Everyone at the branch could see that the branch manager held the purchase committee, in a way his own creation, supreme. It was not my intention to make a leadership statement but obviously I did not mind the great boost the incident gave to my credibility in the eyes of my colleagues at the branch.

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