Leadership Lessons from Supreme Court Crisis
In the press conference, they said that less than desirable things have happened in the last few months. The things are not in order in the court. Independent judiciary is the hallmark of a good democracy. They failed to convince the CJI on a certain point. That’s is why they thought that it was their duty to present this to the nation. They did not want wise men saying 20 years down the line that they (the four justices) had sold their souls.
They also distributed a copy of the letter they jointly wrote to the CJI two month ago. The letter’s key concern was that the CJI was the first among equals and he was misusing his administrative powers by assigning important cases to his preferred justices in the name of being ‘Master of the roster’ without any rational basis for such assignment.
Let us analyze the role of CJI as an administrative head of the Supreme Court. The CJI is supposed to do the things similar to that of a corporate leader. These things are as under:
1. Assigning right work to right people
2. Explaining the rationale behind work assignment in case dissatisfaction surfaces among his colleagues
3. Being the head is not a right but a facility to promote the objectives and ideals of the institution
The CJI failed to do things 2 and 3 even if he was rightly assigning the work.
Here are the lessons that a corporate leader can learn from this crisis:
If a team is working on a project, let them work until the task is complete. If you think a senior team member is not working properly, seek his permission to transfer the project to another junior yet capable team member. This reassignment should never have vested interest and the vision, mission, and values of the organization should be the guiding light for such assignment or reassignment of work.
Explain the Rationale Behind Your Decision
If you must assign the critical project to junior yet capable team members, explain the senior members. Take them into confidence. This will be effective only when you are ethical. Ethical leaders’ convincing works because their intentions are pure. If you are not ethical, no amount of convincing will work. If you are ethical, only a word will work. Ethical leaders develop trust. Trust seldom need explanation.
Avoid Disputable Decisions
Your team members would not voice their concerns if you take a disputable decision once in a while. But if you take these decisions repeatedly, dissatisfaction is bound to multiply.
Be with Your Senior Most Colleagues
You are ethical and have explained the rationale behind the decision. If the senior most colleagues with impeccable integrity are still not with your decision, change your decision to be with them. If you have doubt in their integrity, take extreme disciplinary actions. If you find that they are bullying you, resign from your position. It is better to work alone than working with people with doubtful integrity.
In the words of Ratan Tata, “Walk alone you if you want to reach fast; walk along if you want to reach far”. Remember great institutions are not built alone and also, Rome was not built in a day.