Source | LinkedIn : By Siddharth Mishra
There is an explosion of literature on business successes and leadership. The styles of Steve Jobs, Jack Welch and other heavyweight corporate honchos have been analyzed threadbare and do not constitute my subject here.
My focus here is on the leaders we normally come across in our daily lives. They could include our direct seniors ( I dislike the word “boss” which according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary available on-line means ” a protuberant part of body”), a service provider or even a high performing junior.
My universe is restricted to the world of business. This piece is based on my interactions with hundreds of management professionals from corporations operating across India. They include multinationals, domestic companies, PSUs and a few start-ups for good measure. My idea of a successful leader, in this context, is basically the ability of the person to carry his team well. Such leaders are distinguished by the emotional impact they have on their people as they go about doing their tasks. All of them enjoy tremendous goodwill from their subordinates (current as well as former) and associates.
I have not come across a single business leader who satisfied the above condition but did not deliver business results. The idea that you can fool around, earn cheap popularity without providing results does not exist in the corporate set up with clear financial goals.
In my over two decade long career I would immediately remember Mr. S K Jain of Bhilai Steel (current ED-Works, Bhilai), Mr. E J Kalwachia of Godrej (President, Godrej & Boyce), Mr. K R Kim (ex-MD, LG Electronics), Mr. M. H. Lee (ex- Dy. MD) of LG and Mr. Atul Kulshrestha, Founder Chairman of Extramarks as exceptional professionals. Barring Mr. Kim, I had the opportunity of working with all of them as a direct sub-ordinate. They contributed to my evolution as a professional and were inspiring influences in different ways. All of them rose high up on the corporate ladder in their respective organizations. My analysis however includes many others whose names could not be mentioned due to the limited space available. My apologies to them.
Here are the traits which have run through most of them like a common thread. The correlation between them and their success may not be always apparent at first glance.
- They had had middle class upbringings. This probably helps them to relate well with their sub-ordinates and peers who also share the same background.
- They valued education.
- They believed in family values. They took time out to bond with their team members’ families.
- For some reason, most of them turn out to be long associates of their respective companies. Leadership probably becomes easier within an organization you know well.
- They set high standards of ethics. They were careful about not being seen doing anything that their team members might find morally distasteful. Even foreigners like Mr. Kim and Mr. Lee took care not to do anything that might run against Indian sensibilities in front of their team members.
- They were extremely organized in their work. In fact they set the bars of efficiency in their respective organization. Almost always they reached office half an hour before their sub-ordinates.
- They invested on training their employees. They were approachable and open for feedback.
- They cared for their employees. Even when tough decisions had to be taken. Like letting some one go. Such decisions would be taken with utmost objectivity without allowing any form of politics or hearsay to come in between. Quite often the person in question would be taken to confidence well in advance. If the reason was under-performance,the affected employee would know for a long time and would be supported in all possible ways to find a new placement. One litmus test for such leaders is their “dismissed” employees continue to hold them in high esteem.