Dearth of good talent is resulting in mid-level managers having to take on newer roles in sectors in which they have not worked before—needing them to innovate how they will lead teams. Rumjhum Chatterjee says leaders are not born but made.Leaders, they say, are born in adversity. The infrastructure industry is replete with examples of project situations that have turned ‘sticky’ and have been turned around by the interventions of some emergent leaders.I call them leaders because of what they have done to resolve the issues and how they have done that. These individuals were not anointed leaders, but have emerged to become leaders. Equally significantly, there are examples of CEOs who have led a spectacular turnaround of the companies they have joined, while being an outsider to the industry.In the infrastructure space, organisations are characterised by being flatter, geographically dispersed and generationally diverse. Typical work environments are complex, uncertain, ambiguous and interconnected. At the same time, dearth of good talent is resulting in a huge stretch, requiring mid-level managers to take on newer and sometimes larger roles in sectors in which they have not worked before. In these situations, old frameworks of ‘positional authority’ and ‘management by command’ become quite ineffectual. Instead, if leadership is allowed to be exercised at all levels, we can be sure of creating highly productive, demanding and skilled organisations that can deliver better outcomes and be proud of a more engaged workforce.This would require millions of leaders only to serve the infrastructure sector. Where will they come from?It is true that there are some natural leaders who possess innate qualities of leadership and who, by force of their personality, emerge and followers fall in line. However, there are numerous examples of leaders who have acquired the traits of leader through personal effort, tenacity and experience and assumed leadership through hard work and effective goal setting. Such ‘developed leaders’ know what they want/what is required and take the necessary action to implement a plan so as to succeed.The ‘ways’ to lead: There are some roles, particularly in the infrastructure space, like those of the Programme Manager, Project Manager, Team Leader etc, for which leadership skills are imperative. In fact, it would be right to say that the success of a project or programme depends on the availability of this trait in adequate measure. Since most people are not natural leaders, the infra sector has to invest heavily in ‘educating’ people to acquire the leadership attributes and modify one’s behaviour to assume the desired leadership qualities. Much of this ‘education’ needs to be done through ‘knowing the way’ (domain knowledge/observation), ‘going the way’ (participating alongside, not simply delegating) and ‘showing the way’ (handholding not just advising).Programme and Project Managers can, and have more often than not, transitioned their way into a leadership role. Many Programme Managers begin their careers as technical personnel but advance to positions of management—from managing an activity or a process they graduate to managing teams and outputs. Needless to say, leading teams requires them to don the mantle of motivator, guide, solution provider, confidence builder. The leader is a good listener, non-judgmental, flexible and capable of applying his/her direction with equanimity. Above all, he/she has a very strong commitment to succeed.For a Programme Manager, ineffective leadership can mean a totally dysfunctional working environment and a derailment of the programme schedules. It affects not just the manager but all others in the team as well as other stakeholders. Avoiding the pain of such failure is certainly more of a motivator than feeling the pain associated with behaviour change. Leadership does not require a precise genetic trait; it only requires the willingness to adopt positive attributes through daily behaviour modifications.Is all leadership situational? While there is no single ‘best’ style of leadership, choosing the right leadership style for the right people and situations is the key to getting the work done successfully. An autocratic leadership style may be best suited to deal with an unexpected crisis situation (and a project management situation in the infrastructure sector can have several such moments) while a participatory leadership style may work well where people and team work are involved. In the context of the infrastructure sector and in project management situations in particular, it is felt that a good leader is always a Situational Leader—one who instinctively adapts different leadership styles depending upon the requirements of the situation and the maturity of the team. Management experts Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard developed the Situational Leadership Theory according to which there are four leadership styles which must be matched with four maturity levels to get the job done successfully. The diagram details the framework in detail.Given the monumental size of the infrastructure challenge in our country, situational leaders will be required in large numbers across the length and breadth of the country. Growing leaders from within the organisation is a good and effective way to retain talent and build capacity. However, for such leadership development to take root, there needs to be an organisational appetite for some degree of risk so that managers are given opportunities for developing their skills. Alongside, there needs to be a positive culture of achievement orientation, competitive spirit and adequate levels of open communication within the organisation. Over time, inspirational role models must be showcased to motivate others to enthusiastically follow and emulate.Manager to leader: Last but not the least, managers must strive to become leaders, not just bosses. Increasingly in the infrastructure sector, talent is being built, not bought: Being built through experience, exposure, feedback and ‘stretch’. If organisations in the infrastructure sector begin to take leadership development seriously at all levels, the current war on talent can be overcome in the medium to long term.• The boss drives his/her team; the leader coaches them.• The boss depends upon authority; the leader depends upon good will.• The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.• The boss asks ‘why?’; the leader asks ‘what if..?’• The boss says, “I”; the leader says “we.”• The boss assigns the tasks; the leader sets the pace.• The boss says, “Get here on time”; the leader begins on time.• The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown.• The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how it is done.• The boss makes work drudgery; the leader makes it a game.• The boss says, “go”; the leader says, “Let’s go.”The author is Managing Director & Head–Human Capital at Feedback Infrastructure Services Pvt Ltd.