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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Business Leadership - The India Way

In India business leaders have come to be emblematic of national achievement and fortitude. When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited India sixth months after the 2008 terrorist attack, she arrived first not in New Delhi, the political capital, but in Mumbai, the business capital, where she began by meeting with Indian business leaders, including Mukesh Ambani, executive chairman of Reliance Industries, and Ratan Tata, head of the $62 billion Tata Group.

India has a way of doing business that brings together business leadership with national leadership and societal leadership. Many heads of business are deeply involved in matters from climate change to child nutrition, and they find it entirely appropriate and even necessary to make their views on such matters public.

Some of this has to do with a need for development. The heads of many Indian businesses believe that national growth is essential for their own profitable expansion. Also, India has a long-standing tradition of business largesse, with many companies committed to social betterment through philanthropic giving and investment in infrastructure near their facilities. But the melding goes well beyond private profit and public charity. Indian business leaders care as much about national purpose as about financial results.

Thus the co-chairman and former chief executive of Infosys Technologies, Nandan Nilekani, has accepted a call to direct India's mammoth effort to provide a unique digital identification number for every one of its 1.1 billion citizens, which will make possible more effective delivery of social services across the country. And thus Hindustan Unilever has launched Project Shakti, which has used the principles of microfinance to create a sales force in some of the subcontinent's most remote regions. And big-name businesses have built community hospitals, grade schools and virtual universities across the country.

This India way of doing business has fuelled an economy that even in perilous global times remains a dynamo, driven by big companies that are bent on growing at prodigious rates. India's gross domestic product has been expanding more than twice as fast as the U.S.'s. Infosys Technologies employed 10,700 in 2002, but more than 100,000 just seven years later.

The essence of the India Way is best expressed by those business leaders themselves. We "think in English and act in Indian," observed R. Gopalakrishnan, the executive director of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group. The Tata Group comprises some 98 enterprises that employ 290,000 and book annual revenue equal to 3.2% of the nation's GDP.

"For the Indian manager," Gopalakrishnan explained, "his intellectual tradition, his y-axis, is Anglo-American, and his action vector, his x-axis, is in the Indian ethos. Many foreigners come to India, they talk to Indian managers and they find them very articulate, very analytical, very smart, very intelligent--and then they can't for the life of them figure out why the Indian manager can't do what is prescribed by the analysis."

The Indian "x-axis" is defined by four distinctive elements of managing:

1. Holistic engagement with employees. Indian business leaders see their firms as organic enterprises, where sustaining employee morale and building company culture are critical obligations and the very foundations of their success. People are viewed as assets to be developed, not costs to be reduced.

2. Improvisation and adaptability. Improvisation and adaptability are also at the heart of the India way. In a complex, often volatile environment with few resources and maddening red tape, business leaders learn to rely on their wits to circumvent the innumerable hurdles they recurrently confront. Anyone who has seen outdated equipment nursed along a generation after its expected lifetime with retrofitted spare parts and jerry-rigged solutions has witnessed this in action.

3. Creative value propositions. Given the enormous and intensely competitive domestic market and the country's discerning customers, most of them of modest means, Indian business leaders have of necessity learned to be highly creative in developing their value propositions, delivering entirely new products and services with extreme efficiency. A case in point: Tata Motors now produces the Nano automobile at a sticker price of just $2,500.

4. Broad mission and purpose. Indian business leaders place special emphasis on personal values and on having a vision of growth and strategic thinking. In addition to serving the needs of their stockholders, like CEOs everywhere, they also stress broader purpose. They take pride in enterprise success but also in family prosperity, regional advancement and national renaissance.

Bundled together, these principles constitute a distinctly Indian way of conducting business, one very different from other countries, especially the U.S., where the blend centres more on delivering shareholder value.
Company managers in the West can usefully learn from India's example. The time is right to better understand what is driving the Indian economic powerhouse, the company practices we have come to call the India Way.

For more, see - http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/14/india-business-way-leadership-citizenship-useem.html?boxes=leadershipchannellighttop 


Effective Managers are Excellent Leaders

Most individuals want their managers first and foremost to be strong leaders.  

When you possess and display the following top 5 leadership qualities on a consistent basis, you will stand out from the pack as a highly effective manager:

  • Strong Performance – Managers need to meet and exceed performance standards on a daily basis.  They must have a very narrow “say-do gap” and always live up to the commitments they make.
  • Decisiveness – Managers must have the courage to make the tough calls.  While they realise that every decision might not be perfect, effective managers make well-reasoned and timely decisions.  They choose to live proactively – not reactively.
  • Accountability – Managers are always accountable for their actions and the decisions they make.  When a problem arises they look first to their own contributing actions (or lack there of).  Accountability breeds trust.   An effective manager is one who others see as a go-to person who will listen to their problems and help them to find solutions.
  • Strong Communication – Managers must be strong communicators.  They must clearly convey their expectations and consistently hold others accountable when those expectations are not met.  Effective managers do not shy away from confrontation because they understand that conflict is sometimes necessary to bring about resolution.
  • Service-Based Leadership – Managers truly care about those they lead.  They seek to remove obstacles that prevent others from reaching their fullest potential.  They are empathetic to others’ needs; however, they avoid coddling or enabling others because they are focused on individual growth and exceptional performance.
Effective managers are excellent leaders.  Incorporate these 5 top leadership qualities into your daily life and watch your team thrive! 



Vision is one of the values of Positive Leadership.

This means: