By | Nathan SV | Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India
Peter was no ordinary leader. He was a CEO of a large multinational and someone who had everything at his beck and call. Private jets were not new to his travels. A sincere man, he lived a good life and worked very hard. Then came the down turn. 2008. I remember this as if it were yesterday. Things were crumbling, and it was a difficult time for all.
Peter was coming in to meet his troops, something that he did all over the world. I was the person assigned to manage his India trip. Stressful to say the least. I had never handled such an assignment and I had to make sure that it went off well. The magic day arrived, and I had a large European car readied for him at the airport.
When I received him, the first thing he asked me was if there was a yellow top cab available. It was not those days of the Uber, else he would have asked for it. He told me to stop the big car for his visit the next day to the office. I was in a quandary. He could see it in my eyes. He suggested thoughtfully if he could ride in my car to work. Even worse! Now, how could I tell him that I had but a modest car! The drive to the hotel will be a long one for me…
The following morning, I cleaned my car twice over, reached his hotel and we went to the office. He was quite at ease with the people that he met. The townhall was a great success. He asked us to be focused on work and conscious about cost. Many questions were raised, and he answered in an honest and disarming way. He used his hand gestures a lot and that is when I noticed something – he did not wear his gold Rolex, instead had an obscure watch! The meeting ended, and we had a short ride to the hotel.
I asked him about it – why was he not wearing the gold Rolex? He smiled and responded – would it be becoming of a CEO to flash his watch when times are bad? What would this signal, he asked me. I felt foolish. What a man! Gentle, honest, and empathetic, he set a great example. Between what he said and what he did, there was not a whisker gap. The visit was over and the big man flew back. No gala dinners and unnecessary spend. I was lost in thought. A great lesson for me. Between what we say and what we do, people more often than not watch more of what we do ! So true isn’t it ? #OfficeTruths