Principle of leadership

A few years ago, at an organic food show in Trivandrum, a girl at the entry counter stopped me.

And with the zeal of a convert, she shoved a pamphlet in my face, and started lambasting how evil genetically modified (GM) food was.

I am not for or against GM food but to understand her rationale, I asked, “What is your objection to GM food? Most of the veggies we eat have been genetically modified gradually through selective breeding.”

She then started talking about how Monsanto was trying to enslave Indian farmers. I asked her, “Is your objection to Monsanto or to GM food?”

Now she started complaining that GM food does not have proper labeling. So I asked if the problem was inappropriate labeling or GM food itself?

By now, exasperated, she showed me a book and said, “Please read this book. The author explains how dangerous GM food is. ”

After that, whatever question I asked, her stock response was, “Please read this book.”

Finally, I asked her, “Have you read it?”

She was silent for a few seconds. Then with a slightly lowered gaze, she said, “No.”

I wasn’t trying to embarrass her. After all, we all make mistakes.

But if I am asking you to read a book, I better read it first. If I ask you to show up on time, or do great work, or make sacrifices – I better do it first.

First principle of leadership: Act first, preach next.

– Rajan


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