29 Years


Monday, October 07, 2013
By Robin Shukla

We are motivational this week. Everybody wishes to have a slice of the success cake, and wishes very much to achieve everything in life. The pathways are visible and engines can always be revved – but the shifting of gears is what makes the final or crucial difference. We have, on this page, the words of those who have been there, done that! Innovation Secrets of Indian CEOs by Dr. Rekha Shetty is intended to positively change our lives. The CEO Code by David Rohlander is a guide to wholesome and sure-fire success, while Superstar Leadership by Rick Conlow and Doug Watsabaugh aims to help us achieve all that and more within just one month.     

Practical and priceless secrets revealed
Innovation Secrets of Indian CEOs is the seventh book by Dr. Rekha Shetty, Ph.D, who is a noted expert on innovation initiatives, happiness and work-life balance. She is involved in promoting several social causes, including clean water and population development. That Dr. Shetty has deeply rooted knowledge of major disciplines likes management, sociology, psychology, economics, history and spirituality, becomes clear in this excellently written book, which  can only serve to make life blissfully productive for those who attempt to take advantage of the secrets divulged by the 50 top CEOs featured here. The scale of innovation can range from small improvements in processes to quantum shifts, and this book gives you a glimpse of the minds and principles that generate them.

As the author herself states, ‘India is fast becoming the innovation capital of the world because we lack resources. Strategy Innovation Routines (SIRS) – unfreezing inertia, innovating outside existing routines and then repeating processes that work is the in-thing. Innovation is putting creative ideas to commercial use. It needs developing, releasing in the market place and correcting on the run. Sometimes it is better to annihilate. Do not keep trying to repair. Don’t allow band-aid solutions – go for double or quits. Not all innovations can grow out of even the best existing system. When you try to grow revolutionary new ideas within a system, stake-holders and vested interests move in to close ranks to protect their own interests.’

Dream Big! Work Hard. Network, find great partners. Recognize the entrepreneurial DNA in yourself and others, says Mahendran, Managing Director of Godrej Sara Lee, who also happens to be the only partner taken on by the Godrej family in the last hundred years. He goes on to explain, ‘Entrepreneurship is an attitude – a never-say-die attitude! Whether I fall or fail, I know I am just going to dust myself off and keep going like the Good Knight always fighting for causes or annihilating mosquitoes…For me it is the journey that makes it all worthwhile. The goal post is always shifting, I don’t know how; I have the DNA of a serial entrepreneur.’

A moving account is by Sunil K. Goyal, CEO of Bharti Airtel Ltd who set up a communication network in a distant tribal area of Chhattisgarh, where there were no roads, no electricity and no regular water supply. Though it seemed an insurmountable task, eight hundred women were trained to sell life-time prepaid connections costing Rs.490, and they did it! ‘The women had to learn by doing. The native intelligence of these women took us by surprise. But I should not have been surprised, knowing that 300 million mothers in India feed, clothe and educate their children with less than a dollar a day. This I believe is the greatest innovation: a miracle enabled by the magic of mother’s love.’ 

‘Within every seed sleeps a field.’ This is fascinating insight by M. Ramasami, Managing Director of Rasi Seeds (P) Ltd, who started his company because he wanted to provide the farming community of India with quality seeds which would enhance the productivity of their crops. For about 10 years, sometime after 1973 when he started his venture, life was an uphill struggle, but he refused to be swayed. He even plans to help tackle the energy crisis by getting into biofuel crops. 

Secrets of Indian CEOs
by Dr. Rekha Shetty
Westland Ltd

Cracking the code
The CEO Code by David Rohlander is an almost practical guide to strengthening an organisation’s ability, based on intense research, by guess who – a former US Air Force fighter pilot!  And it is intensely readable, filled with real-world attestations and case studies of the men who rose to the top and held their positions in the face of all odds. 

As the author puts it, almost anybody he interacted with, from his grandmother, the people who educated him to the men and women he served the country with, and now his own son and grandson are all people he has learned and is still learning from. 

He asks, ‘Have you discovered the missing links that separate the average executive from the highest achievers? Did you ever ask yourself: What do they know that I don’t? Is it luck or hard work? Is leadership learned or a genetic gift?  Natural talent is a wonderful thing to have, but far more success comes from learning what you need to do to improve yourself and hard work. Talent helps, but the most important ingredient is what you are able to learn and practice so you will improve. The goal is mastery in three critical areas: Communication, Execution and Operations. An incredible book.

The CEO Code
by David Rohlander
Jaico Publishing House

You can be that rare soul
Superstar Leadership by Rick Conlow and Doug Watsabaugh recommends itself as a 31-day plan to motivate people communicate positively and get everyone on your side. This book is based on 40 years of management experience in addition to the 15 years the authors have spent together as business consultants, so there is sound research, time-proven strategies that have stood the test against adversities, all recounted as well-meant advice.

The inputs are broken down into bite-size pieces that one can go back and refer to when confronted with challenges in the workplace, and on the way to the top. Although it seems to speak to the managers, this book is employee-centered, as it asks: What do employees need from you, the boss, to succeed?  What is it like to be supervised by you?

This book looks at the traits and strategies of the best and the worst bosses. And it uses nine key performance drivers to help leaders evaluate and promptly increase results and also sustain them. The premise is that each one of us, regardless of where we lie in the pecking order, can become one super superstar leader. Getting to the top is the common dream we all have. Why disagree?

Superstar Leadership
by Rick Conlow and Doug Watsabaugh
Jaico Publishing House

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