Nucleus of A Leaderís Mind

Date:   Tuesday , February 01, 2005

On Leadership Style
Leadership is tested when the company begins scaling up. When the company moves from ĎAí to ĎBí and more personnel join, sensitive situations arise. The work is divided between matured staffers and junior personnel. The older generation feels threatened by generation next and the former question their added importance. Hence it is better if the scaling up and acclimatization is done faster and neater. If done otherwise the turbulence caused will hurt the company by resulting in infighting. A leader may make mistakes in this area and it is important to learn fast the lessons it teaches and get over the miserable feelings quickly. There is nothing wrong in falling or failing, you can always get up and run again. The more important part is not repeating the mistakes again.

Persistence and focus are the two keywords a leader must follow for the rest of the staff to look up to them, especially when the company is in a growth phase. One must have patience and a positive attitude during startup and growth phases. In this process-oriented workflow, delegation of work is crucial and people should be held accountable for the returns they give. I feel the challenges for me even now are getting things done by people and letting others do more. I am still learning to do this.

My theory is a company is like an atom when you start it. Initially, you operate with a small team and you are in a level or orbit appropriate for that management team. When you begin with operations, - like the number of electrons in a primary shell of sequence 2, 4, 8, and 10 - the numbers working under you are manageable. But if you want to grow faster there should be drastic measures taken like adding more people, which requires higher energy levels akin to the orbits in which more number of electrons are there further from the nucleus which possess higher energy states.

One thing any leader must understand is that a companyís growth can never be continuous and is marked by discontinuity. All those concerned must objectively comprehend this. Again introducing the atom concept, moving from one orbit to another requires strategy. If you want to do this process quickly, different things must be done like bringing in a new management, make changes in the way customers are tracked, use tactics to get new projects, enter new markets or even change location for the better. These are important catalysts for renewed growth. I feel that the optimum rate at which a company must grow could be made clearer by bringing in an analogy of a driver (read CEO) driving a car. The speed at which you drive is decided while driving depending on the obstacles you encounter en route, the physical conditions of the road and the legal limits.

On Customer Focus
I feel that keeping customers satisfied is the biggest challenge, because you are as good as your last customer. Everyone in the organization is sensitized to this business reality. Since ours is a technical domain and our customers are senior management of other tech companies, they expect us to be in the forefront of technology in terms of awareness and application so that when they grow we can grow along with them too.

On Motivating Oneself
At Persistent, we are now 1,500 strong. Looking back in March 2004 we were 847 people and in March 2003 there were 500 of us. In the last 10 months we have grown very fast compared to the period before that. Hence, to meet the quickly changing environment, the management bandwidth had to be considerably increased. This has its effect on senior personnel who have to go to the next higher level to mentor the new recruits. Some approach it wholeheartedly but others donít want added responsibility and indicate that they would like to remain as technical people. This creates conflict because everyone has to grow when the company grows. Here a leaderís ingenuity and common sense are tested to amicably resolve issues. And this challenge motivates me.

On Motivating Troops
When the company was not growing in terms of new people being added the existing personnel took upon themselves the task of growing themselves more in terms of their personal and professional growth. This was a huge advancement and the company leadership motivated them. Each group of employees took upon themselves to ensure there will be no customer complaints. Such was the psyche of the company on performing. This static phase meant different things for people who were aggressive and not so aggressive. The latter went on to take different positions as compared to the former, which nevertheless did not make them any less valuable.

On Choosing His People
People are chosen not only for their technical abilities but also for their motivation and drive. They should be excited in what they are doing and have the urge to do more. They should be able to do the right things for the company to grow and should be pro-active.

Going Forward
Fortunately for us, the growth phase was not affected by personnel who were hard pushers or those moving languidly. Challenges were taken one at a time and dealt with step by step which was for the positive. The vision of the company changed every three years depending on time and environment, which was communicated to all the employees with care. This was done with the focus of our company being a data oriented company. Finally, the attitude of our company will decide the altitude it reaches.