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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

April - 2007 - issue > Leadership

Leading through the Labyrinth

Harish Revanna
Monday, April 16, 2007
Harish Revanna
Vikram Shah is the President, India Operations, of Network Appliance (NASDAQ: NTAP, market cap: $14.15 Billion), an enterprise storage and data management software and hardware products and services company.

To have achieved all one wanted in life doesn’t mean that it’s all been done the right way. That is exactly what Vikram Shah believes about being a leader: “It is not just results always, but the process of achieving it also.” Process, in Shah’s lexicon, is not simply about the man-hours, man-efficiencies and man-standards (that often need to be met), but more importantly the man (people) itself. Being people-oriented throughout the journey of any endeavour is the absolute definition of success. And his elixir: involvement.

After a long service of 28-years in the information technology industry, if there is anything I still want, it would perhaps be an opportunity to contribute; to bring my learning to my work place. It is in search of this opportunity that my stints in different companies have happened overtime. Given that my search has produced results, what are my learnings to impart?

1. Listening:It is the most important quality of being a leader. Every time a comment/advice passes by you, stop a moment to adjudicate it. At the start of my career, after I finished my masters in Berkeley and wanted to take up a job in hardware, I was advised by my professor to take up software in lieu. Having taught me he knew my interest lay in getting back to India and working from here; and his knowledge could tell him India’s potential in software was higher than in hardware. That piece of advice helped me get where I am today.

2. Process not just Results: Since school days, it’s only the results that have mattered in most societies, irrespective of the process one takes to achieve them—some people study the last month and some a complete year to achieve same results. I was a product of such result-oriented society until one of my managers at Tata Unisys corrected me. As the youngest VP then, there was never a target that I had left unachieved. I was so brutally result oriented that I forgot to understand that my team members had to be aligned to my goals. As we reached our targets, a few engineers would be left behind without knowing what ever happened to the project. Although I was growing as a manager, I was dying young as a leader. It is important to realize that while working with performers, it’s not just their performance that needs to be monitored, but their personal side as well. And that is what I call people orientation. In a cutting edge industry like ours, the process of people orientation is a must.

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