It's not surprising that Rama Kirloskar finds inspiration from nature, instead of a business leader or a company. In fact, going by her qualification, one could mistake her for a scientist. The fifth generation scion of the Kirloskar family holds a double major in Maths and Biology, worked at the Koch Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was involved with a bio-tech start-up, and co-authored a publication that was featured in science journal Cell.
Little wonder that Rama, in a conversation with Moneycontrol, talks about the advantage of neural plasticity when it comes to her management style. For the uninitiated, including this author,that's the ability of the central nervous system to adapt to changes in the environment.
What time do you like to be at your desk?
9 am. An early start helps me to review the reports and tasks accomplished by my team. I can share my feedback before they commence work. It also helps me to complete any pending tasks before I am pulled into meetings.
Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: at business school or on the job?
In my experience, leadership and management skills are innate qualities. They cannot be taught. Individuals either have these skillsets or they don’t. Assuming someone already has these innate skills, then on the job training is definitely the best place to learn how an establishment is run, as it's very hands-on and the stress and adversity that one has to face during on-the-job training is really what brings out the best in individuals and keeps them on their toes.
Describe your management style
I think having a management style itself is limiting and implies that one is set in one’s ways. I still consider myself too young to be set in my ways. Life is a journey of learning. I will possibly develop a management style later in life. The world is a very dynamic place and different situations demand different approaches. The advantage of being young is that one has the neural plasticity to adapt to just about any situation.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person or collectively?
Finally, only one person is accountable and responsible for making decisions and only the leader gets the credit or faces the consequences of their decision. But at the same time, its important that discussions involve everyone’s perspective so that it gives the leader a 360-degree view of the issue at hand thereby enabling them to take appropriate action.
Do you want to be liked, feared, or respected?
Frankly, I do not dwell on how I am perceived by other people as long as the job gets done.
What does your support team look like?
My support team has a combination of very young and reasonably older team members who possess diverse skillsets. I like to build teams that are energetic and enthusiastic in addition to being knowledgeable and experienced. I also like to give my team challenges and opportunities to learn and grow in the organization, even if it forces them out of their comfort zone.