Leadership Lessons From India


Reading a print version of the HBR always reminds me of what I miss most about college – the library. In the March 2010 edition of the review, I came across a rather interesting article Leadership Lessons From India.

In the article, the authors identify common leadership traits of Indian business leaders. There are quotes from a wide array of well known organizations & leaders.  Comparisons are also made with the US leadership style & ethos.

Indian leaders prioritize their key responsibilities in the following order:

  1. Chief input for business strategy
  2. Keeper of organizational culture
  3. Guide, teacher, or role model for employees
  4. Representative of owner and investor interests

Shareholder interest (4th for Indian leaders as above), is usually the top most for US leaders.

“Employee first, customer second”, a HCL motto, seems to echo across the Indian leadership. Leaders tend to attribute company success to employees’ positive attitudes, persistence, and sense of reciprocity. Four ways leaders inspire employee commitment are:

  • Creating a sense of mission  ..led by CSR activities & interweaving CSR & strategy
  • Engaging through transparency and accountability  ..mutual accountability between management & employees
  • Empowering through communication  ..E2.0, joint problem solving & empowerment
  • Investing in training  ..development of employees & coaching

So will India be an exporter of managerial practices? The authors make a positive argument. While there are some easy practices to emulate, creating a real sense of social mission & becoming role models to employees might be harder for CEOs elsewhere.

Read the full article Leadership Lessons From India here

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