Reinvigorating Leadership In India

Leadership in India

India is a country with diverse cultures, people, religions and languages and yet somehow, we instinctively know how to work together. With the foundations built on the legacy of peace, tolerance, and courage, there is no doubt that we had the right value system. However, inculcating this value system to the younger and future generations require unbiased and open minded leaders. India is a developing country on the way to become a developed country, or so we claim, but it’s evident that our country is in a state of turmoil. The reason – we lack good leaders, period.
What is it with the yesteryear leaders that they did and we do not? The hypothesis that I could come up with is this – the older generations were very responsible and humble people. They not only focused on pushing the level everyday, but the primary focus was to do what is right – introspection, self-exploration and sacrifice to gain wisdom was priority, not amassing wealth and power. This is true across all aspects of life, no exceptions.

I am a Business Analyst and Business Process evaluator by profession. I enjoy learning and understanding diverse Business processes and love doing it day in and day out, but how responsible am I at home – to be honest I am irresponsible at home and lack the maturity to balance office and home. However, I have been working on that aspect and would like to believe that I have improved considerably in the last 1 year. I clean the house, the vessels, my clothes and even trying to cook.

My profession allows me to meet a lot of senior employees, including IT personnel. It has given me the opportunity to speak to them and ask about what they felt about the Corporate world and leaders. Most of them wanted to be part of it for the money and/or for a suave resume. However, when given a choice of starting something on their own and being part of a corporate – they all preferred starting something on their own. What is lacking – is it politics, lack of training, lack of passion or the lack of confidence.

Training – Where do we stand?

All companies provide training to candidates to enhance technical and soft skills, but still we lack good leaders, why? There are two important factors missing in every training – one to develop a thought process and second on making an individual a responsible person. The traits that identify a person as a leader is the ability to make a decision and the two factors mentioned above build this important ability in every individual.

The solution – provide opportunities to candidates to work, develop and/or design their own projects in teams. This leads to better decision making and a more responsible individuals. In India, most graduates out of a college would not have a clue on how a lot of things work. Children are spoon-fed to the fact that they know nothing by the time they graduate.

The second and most important aspect – what it takes to be responsible as an employee, as a friend, as a father/mother, as a son/daughter, as a husband/wife and as a citizen of the country. Some important questions that we need to ask and allow candidates to ask are:

• How to learn from failure?

• How to become a leader?

• What opportunities are companies creating for the younger generation of India to make decisions and make them understand making the wrong the decision is OK, and how do they take it forward from then on?

• Is it ok for the leader to not know some aspects of the subject she/he is dealing with and learn from their subordinates?

• Can you list three Software Products that are made by an Indian company? I don’t know of any software that is entirely Indian and has a global presence.

• Is a fresher allowed to do research and development?

The answer to some of these questions might be shocking – ask yourselves.

Leadership – In My Opinion

Leadership is about making the right decisions – a successful leader is made by providing the opportunities to make the wrong decisions, but at the same time given the support to understand how to make it right. A leader will only know that s/he is wrong by exploring and questioning. There is very little or no opportunity in India to do these things. This is why the US is a far more successful country because they invest in innovation. That is the strength of a nation. We are decades behind, but we can catch up quickly. Our natural resource is the human resource and that’s what we should nurture.


Corporates want things organized, but Innovation cannot be organized, as ideas or the creation of a great product happens by accident or through years of painstaking research. Once an idea or product is invented then you can see how to evolve the idea or product and create a more organized way of working. An organized way of working might get your job done but will not bring out the best idea, it kills the individual’s thought process.
It’s ironic though, that we Indians are so unorganized the moment we step out of our office or home – from cutting lines, to signals, to spitting on the road, dirtying the place, howling in the theatre and what not. There is not a place that we don’t fail to show our irresponsibility and that’s what the younger generation learns too. If we have to ensure that our future generations are going to get better opportunities then they need to be taught – what is being responsible about? It’s only when we teach this basic principle that can we expect the other aspects of life to be in place and corporates fail to understand and deliver this basic necessity.

Measuring Performance

Performance should be team based and only the leader should be held liable for his/her team. If an individual is not good and has been selected for training, then the leader is accountable. Leaders should be made responsible for the failures and successes of any project or individual.

When I interview people I don’t ask them any technical questions, but give them a problem that is associated with their day to day life and see what is the thought process behind finding a solution? They don’t have to find the solution – the process of how they think is the important factor. I know instinctively whether this person can handle a problem or not – this is the only interview you really need to do. By understanding his/her answers you will know how much of responsibilities they actually take care of at home or outside and gives you an idea of what kind of training is required to groom any individual. Every individual’s strengths and weaknesses have to be evaluated. Technical evaluation should be the last priority in an interview, because a person with the right thought process can be groomed technically, but a technically sound person cannot be groomed to change the thought process.

Rigid Candidate Selection Process

Corporates have die hard rules and criteria for selecting candidates. Just lately there was an article that was titled “Steve Jobs with his educational qualifications would not be hired in Apple” and that’s true for most CEOs in a lot of organizations. In fact, 6 out of 10 richest people in the world would be drop outs – clearly indicating that education has nothing to do with performance. I understand that qualifications do assist you with the day to day tasks but is not the primary source for innovation – NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF ALL INNOVATIONS.


If we don’t change our attitudes towards this aspect we will lose out on the advantage of being the youngest population in the world. I believe everyone has the potential to be a good leader if their thought processes are developed and by allowing candidates to choose their area of interest. In my opinion, the future of our nation lies in the time spent in teaching the younger generation on these aspects.
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