While Western economies continue to stutter, a report forecasts that India will soon return to the high-growth trajectory it enjoyed before the crisis. At the same time, the new research published in Harvard Business Review shows that the heads of India’s biggest companies have an approach to leadership that is very different from that of Western bosses. As the Indian economy is all set to grow by 7.5 percent this year, experts are saying that it could be the best time for Western CEOs to learn some lessons from their Indian counterparts.
Peter Cappelli, Professor of management at Wharton University of Pennsylvania, was one of the researchers behind the study, and based on interviews with leaders and HR departments from 98 of India’s 150 biggest companies he identified some of the key differences between Indian and Western bosses.
“In terms of lessons for managers elsewhere, one of the most important things is that Indian leaders lead with a sense of social purpose,” Cappelli says. He opines that every leader interviewed gave a specific social purpose as being the goal of their business. Those purposes ranged from improving healthcare in India, to getting cell phones to people who don’t have access to communication tools, and proving to the international community that Indian companies can lead in IT.
“Having a social purpose really motivates workers,” says Cappelli. “If you can articulate a social purpose for your organization and take it seriously, it can have real benefits.” Indian firms invest an enormous amount in their employees’ training and development, and IT firms typically allocate 60 days of formal training for new hires and companies often spend months training even experienced workers hired from other firms.
The study says that the US firms have largely stopped investing in employees, seeing it as a waste if they leave the business. It adds that employee turnover is estimated to be 30 percent in India, and investing in employees ensures the quality of those who stay at the company.