Harsh Goenka belongs to the fifth generation of one of the country’s top business clans. The eldest son of India Inc’s original takeover tycoon Rama Prasad Goenka, he chairs a diversified conglomerate which counts CEAT Ltd (he became MD at the age 24 in 1983), KEC International, Zensar Technologies and RPG Lifesciences as some of its group firms. He is an art aficionado with an extensive and enviable collection of private art. He considers himself a food adventurer and enjoys comfort food like Jhalmuri as well as the Moradabadi Dal at his favourite Indian restaurant — Indian Accent, Lodhi, New Delhi. A social media celebrity, his ready wit and humour are relished by his 1.5 million followers on Twitter.In a candid chat with Moneycontrol, Goenka shares lessons in leadership and his people philosophy. Edited excerpts:
What time do you like to be at your desk?
I am driven by the calendar for the day and typically I do not place any restrictions on my in and out time.
Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: at business school or on the job?
B-school gives you the tools, the many paths to reach a goal. Leadership does not need a degree or schooling. At the core of leadership is an underlying larger purpose and desire to create lasting impact for humanity at large. Mother Teresa and Dhirubhai Ambani are leaders who never went to a B-school, yet their leadership of organisations and contribution to society is exemplary.
Describe your management style.
I like to set the overall purpose and objectives, empower the organisation, delegate and regularly review progress made. I place a lot of value in systems and processes.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person or collectively?
Decisions may be collective but accountability should be with the leader. If the buck stops with me I have to finally decide to agree or not agree with a decision. My style is of a consensus leader.
Do you want to be liked, feared or respected?
I wouldn’t want to be feared. I like to be liked and would want to be respected not for what I am but for what I do.
What does your support team look like?
At the apex we have the Group Management Board. We are structured by industry segment and each business has a CEO . We review businesses periodically and I am supported by the Corporate Centre in each major functional area. Having said that I believe every person in every function, big or small, has a role and is therefore an important cog in the wheel.