Chairman Emeritus Reconnect 24 – “Leadership Mantras”

My dear young friends,

Leadership behavior in Industry and entrepreneurial ventures is beyond 360-degree exposure given to you in Business perspectives in the 4-quadrants of Technology, Finance, Marketing and Human Resource Management, in your MBA courses. Let me expose you to some leadership mantra’s in the larger domain, all starting with the letter ‘D’, for your ease of recall.

Mantra #1 Dream: You should have a very strong dream of making a difference. Dhirubhai Ambani while working as a Petrol Pump attendant in Aden, Yemen did not merely nurture a dream of owning a Petrol Pump one day, or own up all the Petrol Pumps of that city or country. That was too small for him. He dreamt of owning the Upstream Industry itself wherefrom petrol was originating. He realized his dream during his life time and left >Rs 65,000 Cr. worth fortune which makes his son Mukesh the richest man in India today. “Think BIG, think AHEAD and think FAST” was his dreaming scale.

Mantra #2 Direction: Dreams have to be translated into Vision, Mission, Road maps, Goals and milestones accompanied by concrete action-plans, which will have to be vigorously implemented. Continuous direction setting is crucial for success. I think, India’s Mars Mission is the best example of direction setting from planning to execution. Right from its launch from Sriharikota on 5-Nov-13 till its insertion in Mars orbit on 24-Sept-14, Mangalyan’s interplanetary journey involves several trajectory correction maneuvers, all successful so far. If ISRO succeeds till 24-Sept-14, India will be the first country to reach Mars in the first shot.

Mantra #3 Decision: As leaders you will have to take bold decisions keeping far reaching implications in mind. When Jamnagar refinery, largest in the world, was being built in late nineties, Mukesh and Anil came to Dhirubhai with layout and structural drawings for approval. He asked them on what Richter the designs would be safe. They answered 6. Dhrirubhai said no, it should be designed for 9 Richter. It involved an additional expenditure of Rs 1,500 Cr. Yet he decided for it. On 26th Jan 2001, when the earthquake came with an intensity of 7.7Richter, devastating Gujrat, killing 20,000, injuring 166,000, leaving 600,000 homeless, Jamnagar Plant was standing intact, saluting the decision of Dhirubhai.

Mantra #4 Determination: Fastest man on the planet, in fact a certified speed particle, Usain Bolt from Jamaica finishes his 100 m in <10 sec & 200 m in <20 sec, out of his sheer determination. He openly vows to beat his own world records of 9.59 sec & 19.19 sec respectively. No wonder, he leads the race as world’s best.

Mantra #5 Dedication: Dr.V. Krishnamurthy who was Chairman BHEL, Maruti and SAIL is known for his dedication to the organizations he worked for. When he was General Manager at Tiruchi, BHEL, he was to discuss and finalize an important contract from Malaysia which turned into the first export order of BHEL. While he was doing this, his wife Mrs Rajeswari Krishnamurthy was undergoing an operation at the hospital.

When he took over SAIL as Chairman in 1985, the company was in red. He called for a meeting in Bhilai Steel Plant for brainstorming on action plan; he did not reach before time as usual. He explained during his short address that though he got up very early in the morning, he went to the temple to pray God for showering his blessings on the Organization to choose the right path. He met at least 25,000 people in different sessions all over SAIL and condensed all the ideas and solutions into a booklet called “Priorities for Action” and mailed it to every executive in the company. No wonder he turned around SAIL making a profit of Rs 159 Cr in the first year itself up from Rs 4 Cr in the previous year, without increasing steel prices. SAIL never looked back during his tenure of 5-years, during which productivity per worker doubled, saluting his dedication.

Mantra #6 Developing People: Five (5) out of ten (10) teams participating in IPL-2011 had Captains from “Team India” which won the World Cup-2011 under the magnanimous leadership of MS Dhoni. Sachin rightly said “Dhoni is the best captain I have played under”. Once again citing an example from the Public Sector, at one time 21 CEOs of state-owned enterprises were those who were groomed by Dr.V. Krishnamurthy.

Mantra #7 Demonstration: During my 5-year term as Director General of NPTI, I and my Secretary did not avail any leave; we worked 12-hours a day against 8 stipulated including all Saturdays which used to be holidays. I may add, I had a male secretary. Watching us many of our colleagues started following stricter routines. It proved to be an historic period in the annals of the Institution making it self-sustained from a loss making entity while expanding its 4-Units to 10 across the country. It became the largest Power Training Institution in the world earning revenue more than IIT gets grant from the Government.

Let me assure you, leadership is a journey during which you will discover your own additional “mantras”. It is an evolution by experiential learning. Nonetheless, I would like to emphasize:

  • Leadership is a Culture, a Brand; not a person.
  • Leadership is philosophy, not a position.
  • Leadership is behavior, not a role.
  • Leadership is a process, not dictation.
  • Leadership is action, not a proposition.
  • Leadership shared is leadership multiplied.
  • Managers manage while Leaders develop.
  • And ….Leaders develop leaders NOT followers!

Satyamev Jayate !!!

Best wishes and Regards,

Dr. B.S.K.Naidu

M.Tech., Ph.D., CBI Scholar, D.Engg.(Calif), FNAE
Hon.D.WRE (ranked amongst 30-most eminent scientists in the world)
Chairman Emeritus, Great Lakes, Gurgaon, NCR, New Delhi, INDIA
Former Director General (NPTI & CPRI / REL), Ex-Director (REC)/ Executive Director (IREDA)

No job is small or big, the way in which you do, makes it small or big (c)

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