By |Prabodh Sirur |Vice President – HR at Manipal Technologies Ltd. (formerly Manipal Press Ltd.)
Here are two CVs – Tara to head an Architecture firm and Anu to head a manufacturing company.
Employment history of these two – Tara – Housewife, Anu – English teacher and Housewife (read as – “no prior experience of heading companies”)
- Education and qualification – English literature (read as – “no MBA from Wharton/Stanford”)
- Skills and strengths – ‘No’ against each of these – Strategic Planning, Leading large teams, Large business wins, Global strategic alliances etc.
Would you have considered them to lead organizations? Obviously NO.
The reality today – Tara’s name appears in the list of top 10 architects of India, Anu received the President’s award for successfully managing a multi-crore business.
How did this happen?
Let me share their journey. You will find some unique competencies in them.
I found amazing similarity in their approach even though they managed a different set of people. One had to deal with architects, highly creative human minds and the other with shop floor workers.
Both Tara and Anu are a great example of the concept of Servant Leadership that was propagated by Robert Greenleaf in early 70s.
Both of them were forced into these roles at a young age because of the sudden demise of their spouses.
They had an option to close the operations but they chose to take a plunge. This is how they progressed.
Support of mentors
Photo credit – https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220694
The first thing they did was to contact their husbands’ mentors and to ask them for their help to take the enterprise ahead. Both their mentors had one question to ask – “Why do you want to run your organization?”
Their answers were similar – “I want to do this for the sake of our employees and their families. I don’t feel they should suffer the way I did. Also, I want to realize the dreams of my life partner.”
This made the mentors come out of their retirement and work for these women.
Leveraging competencies of others
Both Tara and Anu had no technical/domain expertise that their industry demanded of them. But they knew their second line had these capabilities. They reposed total trust in them. They wanted the team to own the future of their companies. They wanted them to own the dream left behind by their leader.
Beyond ‘What’s in it for me (WIIFM)’
Today’s management proclaims that every business decision is driven by WIIFM. Tara and Anu’s conduct was beyond this. They were driven more by what’s in it for their employees and their families.
Custodian rather than driver
The demeanor of both these ladies was more as a custodian/ trustee than a business driver. This always helped them take decisions objectively. They felt that they owned nothing. They were only an instrument to reach the goal their teams had set for the organization.
Greatness through humility
Every employee was their teacher. They learnt from them every moment of the day. Their employees took pride in growing their top boss. Aristotle once said, “Humility is a flower which does not grow in everyone’s garden”. It definitely grew in Tara’s and Anu’s gardens.
Tara and Anu knew almost nothing about business or about the technology involved in their business, yet they could achieve great success using the principles of Servant Leadership.
Something about Servant Leadership:
Servant leadership as a philosophy has been around for a long time. Robert K. Greenleaf brought it to the world of modern management. His theory was that to be an effective leader, one must serve those who work for them.
S. Chris Edmonds, author of ‘Culture Engine’ says, “I define servant leadership as a person’s dedication to helping others be their best selves at home, work, and in their community. Anyone can serve and lead from any position or role in a family, workplace, or community.”
You can read about key competencies of a servant leaders as defined by Dr Crystal Davis here
Whenever I create an article, I want to think about/I want to write something about Impressionism. It is a source of inspiration to me. It reminds me to reflect about innovation and about challenging the status quo.
Impressionism (1860-1890) is a 19th-century art movement. It was started by painters to challenge the then existing style of painting. They re-defined painting as an impression of one’s mind rather than what is seen by the eye. They turned the artistic establishment upside down with their revolutionary new approach to painting.
Let me now write about Berthe Morisot (1841–1895) one of the few women painters that were part of the original group of Impressionists.
Berthe Morisot portrayed a wide range of subjects – from landscapes and still lifes to domestic scenes and portraits. She also experimented with numerous media, including oils, watercolors, pastels, and drawings.
This painting called The Cherry Tree was painted in 1891.