Desire, ability and thirst for knowledge are the biggest factors that differentiate a manager from a future leader
Sanjay C Kirloskar, Chairman & MD, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd
He joined Kirloskar Brothers Ltd at the age of 25 and became the company’s MD at the age of 28. Today, this company is India’s largest manufacturer & exporter of pumps. Over the years, Sanjay C Kirloskar, Chairman & MD, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, has emerged as an inspirational figure for others to emulate. Here, he discusses a wide range of issues from his leadership style to tackling failures and achieving organisational excellence. Excerpts…
Differentiating qualities between a manager & future leader
Desire, ability and thirst for knowledge are the biggest factors that differentiate a manager from a future leader. While there are some who will maintain the status quo and try to keep the business running on the same pitch for the company, there are others who have a different vision & point of view; they have the desire to achieve something big and significant. I believe that there has to be a desire within you to constantly excel and raise the bar. Along with desire, you should also have the ability to ensure that your team is along with you when you are heading along the path of progress and excellence. However, finding the right person and hoping that the identified individual proves his mettle is a major challenge here. It would require you to sharpen the individual’s skills and help him evolve as a leader. Additionally, being knowledgeable is also important as it will help you to choose the correct path and move up in life.
Must have quality for Indian leaders
The most important quality an Indian leader should possess is patience. There will be times when things may not shape up as per one’s expectations or may not materialise within the desired time frame. In such a situation, one may get disillusioned within a short span of time. Dealing with such situations certainly requires patience.
Your leadership style
As a leader, I have always believed in my team and in my people; I trust them, sometimes beyond the necessary limit. I believe that leadership is all about having the ability to connect with the team and ensure that they are on the same page and on the same path towards achieving or meeting the set goals. You can set out on a mission or create an objective, which you may feel is important for the growth prospects of your company; however, to achieve this, you will require a group of people who are not only committed but are also moving in the same direction and supporting you. I think one should be sharp enough to identify the qualities the team has and work on them to get the best out of the team.
Leadership during crisis
During a crisis, it is imperative to understand that your team will seek you for redressal measures. Hence, you have to ensure that you practice what you preach. Under such conditions, for your team, you are in every sense of the term, a ‘role model’. I believe that when your team sees you battling the pressure and tackling challenges, they will also be inspired.
Motivation matters for achieving excellence
While you have to ensure that your team is on the right track and is working according to the desired plan of action and strategy, there may be situations wherein the team may encounter tough times, like in the present situation. It is critical to show faith and trust in your team’s ability. I believe this improves confidence; in the process, you will get the best possible result.
Achieving organisational excellence
With respect to our company, we believe in achieving organisational excellence by developing human assets. We follow a professional approach to leverage our staff’s potential to accomplish the organisation’s mission in a dynamic, volatile and competitive business situation. We are committed to attain organisational excellence by benchmarking best practices, developing & utilising the true potential of our human capital and providing opportunities for growth & enrichment.
Cost of failure is higher as you grow bigger
The higher you go, the deeper is the fall. One needs to understand that the onus of every big mistake made by a company lies with its leader. A leader has to usually take difficult and big decisions; decisions which have a higher chance of failure. He has to ensure that the decisions he takes do not affect the functioning of the company. One must, however, remember that decisions taken at such positions were always taken in the then perceived best interest of the firm, even though the results, in some cases, may not be as desired.
Lot to learn from failures
I believe there is a lot to learn from failures; one must understand that you may fail trying to do something different or innovative, but the leap you take in the process, is far more significant as it further enhances your knowledge. Sometimes if you succeed, you may not know the factors which have contributed to that success; but if you fail, you will look and analyse all the aspects. Failure will offer not only the opportunity to learn, but also the know-how to deal with various situations. In the long run, you may end up enjoying success in another situation owing to the failures that you may have committed earlier. I believe that failure is important for everyone, especially for those who want to emerge as successful leaders.
Tackling market dynamics & forecasting
We have experienced changes in the organisational set up and have modified our organisational structure according to the needs of the time. Having said that, if you have the right people, who are not only sincere but also have the right attitude, any structure will work for a company. But what is important here is that you need to have a final goal in mind; while you may have certain short-term objectives, you need to ensure that your long-term goals remain intact. This may also make you flexible to deal with uncertain market dynamics. For instance, we manufacture pumps, but we have also focused on various aspects like sustainability, energy conservation, etc., to develop our products, which make us more competitive. We are widening our focus to meet the needs of demand, which is going to intensify in future. I believe we have been quite successful in market forecasting. Further, you need to remain alert and understand the market.