Managing corporations needs THC- something that has been talked about in other articles in this series
. The H is the human skills, which is not secondary in importance because it appears second. It is as important as technical skills. In course of time, human skills will prove more important for success as a manager or leader. It is the H that will distinguish effective leaders from the ‘also rans’.
In response to my article on humility (written some time back, in this series), an eminent management consultant, who practised in Hong Kong for many years, Anthony Griffiths (now retired) wrote to me to say that one of the best managers he had met (in Hong Kong) was one of the founders of DHL.
And this successful manager strongly believed – and practised character and competence. This was the foundation for his great success in building up the company.
Here are some stories from my book ‘Manager to CEO’ which will explain the theory that it is more important to play the heartstrings before playing the mind strings- in the business world and even otherwise.
People want to be guided by those they respect and those with a clear sense of direction. It would seem that people looked for these qualities from the time of Moses, who was a leader that led people to the promised land. The requirements have not changed today and are unlikely to change in the future.
Valuing people over money
How is care (and credibility) developed and identified?
The Kamat corporation was among the largest biscuit manufacturers in South India. They were regional players and were the second largest in most of the southern states. They had grown from a small enterprise to an Rs80-crore organisation in just 12 years.
The founder and owner of the company were made a buyout offer by a large fast-moving consumer good (FMCG) multinational. This large FMCG wanted an entry into the biscuit market that would complement their own range of products. And the buyout would be the easiest and fastest way to do it.
They offered Mr Kamat a price he could not refuse. There was no need to negotiate. But Mr Kamat took a month to think it over, and then he went back to the FMCG company.
He agreed to sell the business but put forth a condition to the acquiring company. He asked the buyers to ‘retain the sales staff and the stockists for three years from the date of the sale of the company’.
The multinational rejected this proposition.
This is because the acquiring company already had their field force and distribution system. The question in front of them was, why would they carry this deadwood?
But Mr Kamat was adamant.
He was clear that he would not let his employees down for a whopping sum he was offered.
He recalled how his employees had trusted him and helped him to build the business.
They had shown loyalty and it was his time to reciprocate. There was a deadlock due to the prerequisite, and finally, negotiations failed.
Over the next few months, the news gradually leaked. The reason for the failure of the deal came out.
The stockists and salespeople were very touched by Mr Kamat’s gesture
They all resolved to work harder to show their gratitude to Mr Kamat, who had sacrificed personal gain on their account.
This led to sales of the biscuit company doubling in just three years, and without any addition in the product range.
Conclusion: One good turn deserves another.
Shekhar was the chief executive officer (CEO) of a company in Pune, part of a large family-controlled conglomerate from Mumbai. He had been in the company for 30 years, joining as a junior engineer and later becoming the CEO in just 18 years.
One morning, he got a call from the chairman’s office.
He wanted to see Shekhar urgently in Mumbai, but the subject of the meet was not disclosed.
Shekhar collected whatever documents he thought might be needed and went the next day – and was there at the scheduled time.
After a few preliminaries, the chairman asked Shekhar about his family, particularly his daughter, Poonam.
“I know a nice boy from ABN Bank,” the chairman said. “I met him twice at meetings that we had here.”
He went on to add, “He belongs to the same community as you. He is well qualified and young. I was wondering whether we could arrange a match for Poonam.”
The chairman even arranged a few social gatherings at his own home. Soon after things fell into place, he pushed through all the other arrangements and even got some staff to help with the wedding preparations.
This endeavour was a success.
Shekhar did not know how to thank the chairman for his interest and support. Until he retired, he continued to serve the company.
Who is a leader?
Napoleon, alongside buttoning up his coat, was running behind the platoon. He lost sight of the platoon in the labyrinth of lanes in a town in Austria.
There were people watching from their windows. Napoleon asked them, “Did you see a platoon pass by? Which way did they turn?”
One of the bystanders asked sarcastically, “What happened? Did you miss the formation? Got up late?”
“Yes,” came the reply from Napoleon. He replied, “I did. I am their leader.”
So whether you lead from the front or the rear, it does not matter. You can still be the leader if you have credibility- which is exposed and identified in small matters and minor incidents.
Heroes do not always emerge from the ashes of great wars! They came in the past and will come in the future with Care, Character and Competence.
(Walter Vieira is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He was a corporate executive for 14 years and pioneered marketing consulting in India in 1975. As a consultant, he has worked across the globe in four continents. He was the first Asian elected Chairman of ICMCI, the world apex body of 45 countries. He is the author of 16 books; a business columnist; visiting professor on marketing in the US, Europe and Asia. His latest books are “5 Gs of family Business” with Dr Mita Dixit and “Marketing in a Digital/ Data World” with Brian Almeida. He now spends most of the time in NGO work.)