Who is a successful leader? – Karthik Siva

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Let’s suppose you have 10 million followers – does that make you a successful leader? Well, not exactly. By that definition, Stalin or Pol Pot will qualify as a leader. There are many definitions of who and what constitutes a leader.

This subject has become a massive cottage industry churning out thousands of articles, books, PHDs and insightful arguments.

Let’s face it – everything and everyone rises, stagnates or perishes depending on the quality and effectiveness of leadership. This holds true whether you are a sports team, political party, city, business, country or an NGO.

In my opinion, leadership needs these four indispensable elements:


The first element of leadership is the capacity to breakthrough limitations – both your own and those of people working with you.

Breakthrough what ? It is breaking through your comfort zone. Nothing amazing is possible unless a leader is able to get people to go beyond their warm and fuzzy comfort zones.

Noble Goals

The second element of leadership is the pursuit of noble goals that make a big difference not only to the immediate stakeholders like customers but also the community and the planet.

This is almost always the consequence of having a mission committed to either solving a big customer problem or a significant global challenge – this would pretty much eliminate all power hungry dictators, greedy billionaires, politicians indulging in demagoguery and Instagram celebrities who are merely famous for being famous.


The third element is the capacity to produce results. This is vital and is often where the rubber hits the road. A leader has to produce results.

You don’t get points for just trying or coming out with a brilliant idea that does not translate into results. If you do not produce results – you simply don’t qualify as an effective leader !

Best Version of Yourself

Ultimately leadership is never about the leader. It is about enabling other people to become the best versions of themselves.

This is not possible unless the leader is able to become the best version of herself in the first place ! As the saying goes – a high tide lifts all the boats.

So leadership is ultimately about lifting and expanding people and the final acid test of a leader is not how many followers she has, but how many leaders she has produced.

Karthik Siva is a highly acclaimed and respected international strategy consultant, nation branding expert and leadership mentor to CEOs and entrepreneurs. He is the Chairman of Global Entrepreneur Xchange, the founding Chairman of Global Brand Forum, Asia’s most influential Forum for brands, business and leadership, described by BBC as the “Davos of Branding” and by Straits Times Singapore as the “World Cup of Branding”.

Karthik is also a highly sought after keynote speaker and trainer in international and regional forums. Karthik’s leadership and expertise has been recognized and commended by several CEOs and entrepreneurs including Nobel prize winner and former Vice President of the United States – Al Gore. Karthik is also the author of Tools, Tips & Thoughts for Entrepreneurs, SPARK and How to Present and Persuade with Power?.

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