Gurus of wisdom in the business arena

D. Murali | Updated on March 19, 2011 Published on March 19, 2011

You may find the gurus of wisdom in the Himalayas, but they also exist in the hardcore business arena, impacting many lives and also putting an indelible mark on the company's history, discover Pritam Singh and Asha Bhandarker in In Search of Change Maestros ( www.sagepublications.com). The book celebrates seven ‘role models for leadership,' namely, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Meleveetil Damodaran, Sajjan Jindal, Kundapur Vaman Kamath, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Anil Manibhai Naik, and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

In the authors' view, the key elements that characterise great leaders and change maestros are contextual sensitivity, compelling vision and purpose, winning streak, people connect and engagement, meaningful contribution with speed, creative destruction, culture architecture, and evolving self.

Value-based functioning

Devoting a chapter to each of the maestros, the authors delve deep into the leader's qualities. For instance, about Birla, they write that he has an immense range of leadership competencies, focusing simultaneously on all the pillars of competitive edge — cost, quality, people power, ethical governance, and innovation and speedy response to emerging opportunities.

“K. M. Birla has successfully created a world-class organisation. In his company there is a culture of freedom and empowerment and entrepreneurial innovation. The group strongly emphasises value-based functioning and also provides dignity to their people, thus enabling them to attract top of the line global talent.”

The transformation of Aditya Birla Group within a span of just twelve years to become a global Indian multinational is truly phenomenal and K. M. Birla, by his own right, has emerged as a great role model and powerful mentor of business leadership of India, the authors aver. “If his great grandfather G. D. Birla played a crucial role in liberating his country from alien rule, K. M. Birla has added his mite to making the free nation an economic super power.” It may be a striking contrast that the Ambani brothers do not earn a place in the book's index, though there are a couple of positive references to Dhirubhai Ambani.

‘Eighty years' in forty years

The chapter on A. M. Naik — ‘the passionately committed L&T-ite who continuously pushed the group to the next horizon' — extols him for creating economic freedom for senior employees through ESOPs.

“Ring-fencing L&T by creating an employee-owned organisation has been his greatest contribution to secure the future of L&T from all takeover threats, a problem which L&T faced in the past,” the authors note.

Inspiring read for corporate managers.

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