Evolving Corporate Ethos – Info On A Big Tata

Taking responsibility is the highest mark of a good leader. This has been my take-away from all the Leadership Trainings attended until now. I am sure you would agree cent percent.

But have you ever experienced discomfort stemming out of the feeling of Over-Responsibility which sometimes the founders of the company carry along, even years after?! The recent founder-management board room contest at the IT Services Giant – Infosys exemplifies this.

Laying the foundation, building a strong structure and sustaining it in the highly competitive market for decades is not an easy task. Agreed. But letting this responsibility, this power, this control go off is even difficult. And if this feeling clings on to the founder for long, it leads to board-rooms conversations going public, getting amplified by media and over-amplified by social media.

Be it the Vishal-Murthy or the Mistry-Tata duo, I don’t think they are contesting only on ideological grounds. To my understanding, it also counts for a polished case of ‘not letting go off the control’.

Granted that the founders are founders. And their role as creators will always be supreme. But the founders (might or might not be serving an active role) often feel over-attached and over-responsible towards the company. Consequently, they look at mirroring their ambitions and ideologies in the current management, which might not be required at that juncture. Since the current leader already has a vision and path defined, such meddling results in a cliff that’s blown all over – like Tata-Mistry and now the Murthy-Sikka case.

Irrespective of the size, type and nature of the organisation, such battles of difference of opinion add no value. Instead take critical time and focus away from the business. Not just that of the top management, but the entire chain of work gets adversely affected because of the negative buzz falling on the eardrums around. The league of Smart CEOs and CXOs following the path of exemplary and inspiring work should not be expected to work within the dogma. “Don’t get trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking”, said Steve Jobs in his Commencement Speech. As long as the Chief doesn’t go against the organization’s value system, he should be given the independence to work and decide for himself.

infosys and tataEven the Supreme Founder – Brahma did not believe in retaining the power. He founded the universe and handed-it-over to Vishnu and Shiva. The founders / the creators who have willingly opted for the backseat in car should not be worried about the minute-by-minute running of the car, unless it is being exploited by the driver. Once the control is handed-over, it must be trusted. More than trust, complete emotional and physiological acceptance of it should be there.

This will ensure respectable organizations who have been our ideal for long, not go through this bit of drubbing. Otherwise, whom do we look up to as ideals? Most of the emerging brands & businesses aim at becoming Tata-Birla (though these are two different corporate giants, this word pair has been used as synonymous to a successful brand / business in India). And if such noise surrounds these brand supremes, what would the brands of today want to become like? How do we idealize our goals?!

These are my individual views based on my limited knowledge of the matter. You can share yours and I would love to understand different learnings that you must have drawn from this incident.

-Ruchi Adlakha

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