TA Krishnan, the founder and chief executive officer Ecom Express, is a fan of The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The 54-year-old believes it helps him understand how rules of battlefields can be applied in the corporate boardroom and recommends the book for every business leader. Krishnan, who leads one of the country's first delivery companies focussed on the e-commerce industry, does not believe in micro-managing people. He allows people to make mistakes and learn from them.However, he believes that the path to the C-suite is not always straight. Edited excerpts from an interview:
What time do you like to be at your desk?
I wake up early to have a consistent routine, and to plan my day well ahead. Therefore, usually, I am in the office by 9:30 am, even during the on-going pandemic my schedule has hardly fluctuated. I firmly believe that early rising is crucial to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which is pivotal for accomplishing one’s goals.
Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: at business school or on the job?
I would say, both are important. Of course, B-school is the alma mater that equips one with the right skill set to conquer the modern professional world and help build a foundation. However, a job imparts one with real-life experience. That is where the execution of strategy and its nuances can be learned, adjusted, and evolved over a career. One has to assimilate both to attain success in the professional spectrum.In fact, I think both these methods of learning are complementary to each other.
Describe your management style.
Participative. Since the beginning of my career, I have been fortunate enough to work under leader bosses who let me have the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. Today, I apply the same strategy at my workplace. I do not believe in micro-managing people. I allow due freedom, so my function/unit heads can feel confident while spearheading the business.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person or collectively?
Ultimately, one person has to own the tough decision, but seeking out information and input from others is always recommended. Personally, I make tough decisions by first gathering feedback. I take the relevant information at hand, challenge the assumptions, and perhaps apply past experience. After vetting all the options, I make the appropriate decision.
Do you want to be liked, feared, or respected?
In business, like in other aspects of life, appeasing everybody is not possible. However, your leadership is defined by the shrewd decisions taken by you, which make or break your reputation. Therefore, being respected is important to me.
What does your support team look like?
I see my venture Co-founders and function heads as the backbone of my business. They are an integral part of where Ecom Express stands today.