January 2011

Dear Reader,

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

This Republic Day, let us celebrate the spirit of leadership! We all discuss the importance of having good leaders to run businesses, but we forget that the entire government machinery of our country is also run by exceptional leaders. We begin our first edition of the year with an article and an interview reflecting leadership in the public services services.

In Thinking Aloud, Jay writes about the unsung heroes - our bureaucrats who bring major reforms and yet do not take the credit by saying that they were just doing their jobs!

Podium features an exceptional leader, D. Sivanandan, IPS, Director General of Police, Maharashtra. His service to the nation as a Police Officer truly exhibits how one individual can bring a huge difference to the sociey.

Learn all about Talent Management from seasoned veterans, Bill Conaty and Ram Charan, as we review their book, 'The Talent Masters', in our coloumn Between the Lines.

And well, there is a twist in leading from the front, says Vikram in Figures of Speech.

Empowering Times is now reaching over one thousand readers and I would like to thank you for your support. Please continue to write to us, it is encouraging to receive your feedback. All our previous editions are available in the Media and Archives section on our website. To have a quick look, simply click here.

Geetanjali Sharma



Where have all the Learders gone? Jay

Interview with Interview with D. Sivanandan, Director General of Police, Maharashtra

Book: The Talent Masters - Bill Conaty and Ram Charan


'While heroic tales of the 'Big Leader' are always attractive, a host of unknown names provide grass root leadership & create change in civil society.'

Where Have All the Leaders Gone? - Jay

Too often we associate leaders with two domains: Politics and Business. However, while political leaders abound, statesmen are in short supply, more so in current times given the state of our polity. Sadly, both in politics and business (aren't they both family businesses?), lineage seems to count more than competence when it comes to succession & continuity.

But if we look at leaders in a larger context, we will find some extremely good examples from the field of public service and social sector (witness E. Sreedharan , Ela Bhatt, Prof. Yash Pal, to name a few). A close scrutiny would reveal that we have examples from bureaucracy, science, education, etc., who would well meet Warren Bennis's definition that a Leader 'gets people to reach for common goals by helping them see aspects of the world differently'. Let us turn our attention to these unnoticed and largely unsung individuals.

The Indian bureaucrat has been maligned a lot but there is no denying the fact that the good ones have played a singular part in creating novel policies or effectively implementing them on the ground to provide maximum benefit to the largest number. Be it enforcing the Right to Information Act (that has changed Indian civil society) or implementing Green laws in the face of tremendous pressure from vested interests, these leaders in various echelons of the civil service (including the police, armed forces and others) have created change by modifying the framework & the mind sets of groups around them. Make no mistake, upholding the long term interests of a larger number in the face of expediency, requires rare gumption.

In his writings Jim Collins speaks about the 'myth that change leaders must be larger than life heroes who ride in from the outside on a white horse'. While heroic tales of the 'Big Leader' are always attractive, a host of unknown names provide grass root leadership & create change in civil society. At a time when we are inundated with a daily dose of the latest public scams, there still exist some civil servants who conscientiously carry on their tasks diligently & with dedication without being perturbed by the lack of immediate rewards. And when they are accidentally discovered by the press, oftentimes they are too embarrassed to tell their tale treating it as fulfilling their normal duty. Consequently, their story is tucked away in the back pages of the newspaper. But these are the true heroes who are making a genuine & impactful role in alleviating daily life for all in a society torn with influence-peddling & lobbying.

To Frances Hesselbein, of the Drucker Foundation & a former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, the leadership challenge is captured by the poser 'how do we move from where we are to where we are called to be?' And, to her, the answer lies in the way she has defined leadership 'as a matter of how to be, not how to do it.' Her emphasis is on a fundamental point that it is the quality & character of the leader that determines the performance, the results.

By that measure, a lot of people in leadership positions would fail to pass muster. The acid test in today's world - where choices abound - is for a manager to look at herself in the mirror and answer the basic question: 'why should anyone follow you?' Would you be the person that others would want to be with, as a leader of the team? Or, would you be described as someone whose career has been built on a ladder of dead bodies? Those who use manipulative shenanigans & rest on their charisma alone to carry the day are bound to encounter long term failure, as packaging without content is guaranteed to create early disappointment.

When I meet competent people from the social sector who pass the Hesselbein test, I am left with a wistful thought that Corporate India could well do with a few of these true leaders rather than the many managers masquerading as change agents. Indeed our true need is not for one heroic individual but for a culture that generates a set of leaders with character at every level, thereby strengthening the fabric both in business as well as in the wider arena of society.

And, a final gem from Bennis' work, "You can't make being a leader your principal goal, any more than you can make being happy your goal. In both cases it has to be the result not the cause".

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'Credibility does not come in a day...A leader truly builds credibility in testing times.'

INTERVIEW: D. Sivanandan, Director General of Police, Maharashtra, on Leadership

D. Sivanandan, Director General of Police, Maharashtra, is one of the most dynamic leaders from the public service domain we have seen in recent times. An IPS officer of the 1976 batch, he served in several high profile positions like the Joint Director of CBI (Western Region), Intelligence Bureau, Joint Commissioner of Police, Mumbai (Crime), Commissioner of Police, Thane and Nagpur. Reducing the organized crime rates in Mumbai after the 1993 serial blasts, tracing the local associates of the IC 814 Kandahar Hijacking case and computerization of the Police Administration are some of the important achievements of his career.

It is difficult to imagine that this dynamic Police Officer was once aspiring to be a Professor. In fact, he has spent the early years of his career teaching Economics. Perhaps, it is this quest for learning that has led to his emphasis on regular training to the Police Officers. During his tenure as the Commissioner of Police, Thane, he created a dedicated training facility called 'Manthan'. This is just one of the reforms he did in the Police Administration. In our special edition on 'Leadership', we requested him for an interview and here is what he had to say...

ET: What are the unique challenges of leading the Police force in Maharashtra?

DS: We have more than 12 Crore of population only in Mumbai, we also have an open door policy to attract talent into the city, which means there is a constant influx of people. What makes the job more difficult is anonymity of people who are coming in. With economic prosperity, there is an increased activity in organized crime, mafia and cyber crimes. We also have to beat the challenges of naxalism in some pockets of the state and the terror threat from Pakistan. We have a police force of 200000 where we have to recruit, train, pay salaries and the associated wherewithal. But, with 30 years of experience in different challenging assignments, I have been able to meet with the challenges.

ET: How does a leader build credibility for himself in his team?

DS: Credibility does not come in a day. A leader has to put in sincere efforts to win the trust of his people. Past accolades can make it little easier but you cannot ride on one success for a lifetime. It is the strength of the leader's character, which builds credibility. As a leader, he has to constantly model the behavior he expects from his people. It is extremely important that he exhibits moral superiority. A leader should also be connected to the people he leads. He should be able to identify with their challenges they face and be one with them. A leader truly builds credibility in testing times. When the situation demands, he must rise to the occasion and lead from the front and not task people with the jobs he does not want to do. He should be able to give due credit to the people for their achievements and not just compliment himself. It is not only about the successes, the way he handles failures is also important. Does he blame others if something goes wrong or is he forthcoming when he has to accept failure? A leader should walk the talk, live by what he says and not just preach others.

ET: In your opinion, what is the role of values in leadership? And, how do you inculcate the right values in your team?

DS: There is no leadership without values. We all face situations where there are no rules or procedures written about what to do. It is in such situations that morals and values become the guiding light for the leader. It is the strength of the character, which makes a good leader and that comes from the values the leader believes in. I would say a leader must have humility, competency, integrity, dedication, credibility, honesty, innovativeness, teamwork, excellence, accountability, empowerment, quality, efficiency, courage, persistency, optimism, dependability, flexibility and most importantly, be disciplined. It is also extremely important for him to carry a good self-image and esteem.

To inculcate these values in the team, the leader must live these values and be a role model for his followers. He can’t have a mask and pretend to be someone he is not. A leader has to be a visionary. If the leader wants to inculcate values in his team, he has to start first. I would like to quote what Mahatma Gandhi said, 'Be the change you want to see'. Success is ultimately matter of exercising choices continuously.

ET: We study different styles of leadership. In your opinion which style of leadership is more effective in public services?

DS: A leader in the public services domain needs an all - inclusive style. We need help and support from various departments of the government, like the intelligence agencies, income tax department, revenue department, telecom department, etc. Our work sometimes is like connecting dots when we collaborate with so many government agencies. In such a scenario, it is the democratic style of leadership, which works the best.

In a job like ours, we have to be prepared and vigilant at all times and hence it is important that the leader should have a vision for the future. He should have a foresight and anticipate variety of troubles which can come up, plan for exigencies and be prepared for the worst.

ET: Can one person really make a difference to the society? Please share some examples.

DS: Absolutely! And with 2 Lakhs of people in the police we can bring so much of a difference to the society. We have enough examples of individuals making a difference to the society, both positive and negative. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Hitler, Mussolini, all were individual leaders and changed the world. In my opinion, Mahatma Gandhi is the most influential leader of the 20th century. A single man with no army could bring independence to our country.

There are very good examples you can take from the police too like the Thane Police School, where we transformed a municipal corporation school; the newly introduced medical check- ups for policemen; the gymnasiums and the now the state-of-the art Mumbai Police Anti Terrorism Squad, are all examples of individual leadership in the public services.

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The Talent Masters
- Bill Conaty & Ram Charan

"If businesses managed their money as carelessly as they manage their people, most would go bankrupt".

These are the powerful opening lines of the book. While most companies acknowledge that 'People are their greatest assets', they find it difficult to translate this into action. Businesses have excellent methods of measuring performance through numbers, but when it comes to identifying and developing leadership, their methods are primitive. But, there are companies who have mastered the art of talent management and this book is a result of a practitioner and an academician coming together and presenting the theoretical and practical aspects of it.

General Electric (GE) is so far the most emulated company for its leadership development practices. Talent Masters studies GE's talent management system in depth in the first part of the book. The second part examines the expertise of other masters like P&G, Hindustan Unilever, LGE, Agilent Technologies and Novartis.

From here on, the book moves towards the application side of leadership development, with how to set up a Talent Management Process and a Talent Mastery Toolkit.

With Bill Conaty's 40 years at GE and Ram Charan's experience in advising companies, the book offers plenty of ideas to absorb and implement.

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