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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 - 2006 - issue > Leadership

Where the head is in clouds, feet on ground

Harish Revanna
Saturday, April 1, 2006
Harish Revanna
Shanker Annaswamy, the Managing Director of the 38500 strong IBM India has brought 28 years of industry experience in running multi million dollar organizations to IBM. His operational strategy is to work like an entrepreneur inside a huge multinational—stemming from his belief that an entrepreneurial mentality brings in an ever-lasting percolation of vision, integrity and value systems at all times, good or bad. As a leader, he’s assuming responsibility to discourage complacency and motivate the team to shoot for bigger goals. Annaswamy’s goal is clear: To take the company to greater levels.

Annaswamy identifies two different levels of situations for a leader. The first, where one has a chance to turnaround a company’s entire performance from bad to good, and the second where the leader is faced with an opportunity to transform a company from good to great. “When things are bad, marginal improvement is easier to showcase. However when the business is performing well, it takes tremendous effort to bring more conviction in the team and take the company to a different level of achievement,” he says. Interestingly, it is often not different leaders who can change things, but different leadership qualities of the same leader. Every success story whether bottom to top or good to great demands multiple facets of leadership. “In the former you may need to be a tougher and assertive leader, while for the latter case you need to be a strategic and a collaborative leader,” he says.

Fortunately or unfortunately, very few leaders have an opportunity to wear such dual-leadership mantle in their career. “However, the ones who have had the opportunities to experience it and emerge successfully out of it, are a privileged lot,” says Annaswamy.
A self confessed passionate learner, Annaswamy claims to have learnt something from everyone he has met - his young daughter is also in the league of teachers. “When I moved in as the Country Head, I was a novice to the IT industry. However, my openness to learn and the conviction within, has never let me bite dust,” he says. Translating learning to execution is what Annaswamy does the best.

Nothing-happens-overnight is a chapter in his virtual book of leadership. “People who don’t focus on execution do not prosper in their career, but the ones who do, stand out as leaders,” he says. During his early days at IBM, as an outsider, the first execution was to prove to himself, and then on to execute with the team to collectively perform and beat all expectations.

Collaborating with teams and motivating employees is a leaders’ forte believes Annaswamy. This is his learning from his earlier assignment at GE Medical Systems where he rose from being a project manager to the President of the company. Currently in IBM India one of his objectives is to focus on small and medium businesses and to deliver value in the segment. “You add business value to your company and the company adds value to your country,” he says speaking of IBM in India.

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