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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The kings shall rule........

………..always over the hearts and the subjects would happily do all that the kings desire.

One rules only with the heart and keeps the mind safely tucked away as that is how a successful reign would always be. And this advice is not only for the real kings, but for all those who command men and through them need to give results.

This holds good for all sectors, governmental and private.

Yes, as Gandhi said, it would always remain a mystery as to how someone could belittle his subordinates and feel good about it; practice this belittling daily and thereby achieving perfection in the art of disseminating unhappiness all around. You see such practitioners every day, cutting across sectors and state boundaries, practicing this art to the chagrin of many, and fortunately or unfortunately being easily identified by unhappy faces all around. They are mere bosses, not kings, and do not realize that bosses, people detest and kings they love.   

Even a raised eyebrow of a boss hurts, whereas a raised sword of someone we regard as king is calmly accepted, for the king rules from the heart and the boss, bosses from the mind. The heart is always superior to the mind, yet very few of us realize this fundamental and pass our lives in a state of perpetual unhappiness.

Life is to be led to its fullest and to its fullest it can be led only with happiness all around. Only a king lives this way and one need not be born to a royal family to be a king. He only needs to have a heart that he invariably turns to for advice and rules with, with the mind generally remaining oblivious to whatever is happening in the environment all around.

The quest of heart over mind shall continue and one who places the mind over the heart shall generally remain an unhappy soul, creating more unhappy souls whenever and wherever he interacts with others.

The finest and the most successful top guns have been those who have genuine love and affection for the men working under them. Such officials treat their men as their own men, with respect and compassion. The vagaries of rank are not allowed to come up in their relationship that they really cherish and would not allow to be wasted on petty issues. Ego is farthest from their persona, yet they can take a stand on the right issue, a stand that they would never compromise even at the cost of all that they cherish and hold dear. And they take full responsibility for all that is happening in their domain, without making any attempt to pass even an iota of responsibility to those who work for them. Such officials are kings in the real sense, their domain remains their kingdom. 

Bosses invariably fret over mundane issues, while the kings never miss the larger picture, even while appearing to be engrossed in the routine. And the perpetual attempt of the bosses to please their masters shall never be the style of a king for while a king may have a superior but never a master, nor does he regard someone as one.

How we miss kings in the environment we work, for it is there that we need them the most. The rank inability to get the best out of our men is a situation created by a lineage of bosses, who never had the gumption to be kings. Bosses, who aspired for a position for that is all that identified them, and who only regarded a position as a means of bringing about a positive change in their lives as well as that of their families, not the organization they work for and for whom a position was not a means to an end, but was an end in itself.

How we miss kings who can take a stand for what is right and not acquiesce to unholy demands just to avoid a fleeting inconvenience. How we miss kings who would not sell their soul for petty personal gains and realize that such deals are not really worth it. And how we miss kings who always flaunt their pen and never their tongue, a phenomenon witnessed far more often than desirable.

Where have we gone wrong, perhaps in the grooming of the youngsters in general and our own men in particular. We need to course correct and put value systems and the need to place the heart over mind at the forefront of the norms of the society and organizations.

It is time that the thoughts and deeds of great men like Vivekananda and Gandhi are widely disseminated so that they can be imbibed by a large section of the society.

Bringing such changes takes the toil and patience of decades. Are we ready, yes we have to be, for we need our officials to be kings, not a mere instrument for bossing over subordinates.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Signing Off

It is all the same everywhere

India Tourism Development Corporation, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation, Air India and now Railways – what a journey it was that despite my constrained capabilities placed me as the head honcho of these great organizations.On the 31st last, I departed the hallowed portals of the Rail Bhawan, a satisfied soul ready to relax in the sun and bask in the reflected glory that head honcho’s generally get regardless of their contribution. And the only thought at the moment of departure was gratitude for the mercy of the almighty who gave me different ways of serving this great nation of ours.

I feel forty, have the physical fitness of twenty and am actually sixty. Maybe I still have many years of slogging left in me, yet the intense desire to contribute to this wonderful nation of ours, and god willing and health permitting, this desire would keep me working regardless.

It has been a great learning, almost thirty nine years of it, with the diversity of the federal government, state government, a hotel company, a tourism company, an aviation company and the largest organization of the world, all providing a different and an exciting playfield. All of them were different as well the same. The outputs were different, yet the inputs were almost the same and why not. It is almost always about handling the three M’s within a defined time frame all synchronized to achieve the desired objective.

Air India was indeed the toughest nut to crack, not because it is of the toughness of the nut casing but because of the huge debt it piled up during its attempted nosedive into oblivion, a dive that could be successfully yet temporarily halted by bringing out the best of its men and also its machines. And at the root of the dive was always a management that was as distant from the ground as the moon is to the sun. The stark absence of a ground connect and a decision making process that would put to shame even the word “complexity”, together conspired to pull down an organization that in the past ruled the skies with impunity. I left the glory of the skies convinced that the airline still has in itself a lot that could propel it to emerge as the leader that it had always been till a decade back.

And the stint in the heart of Incredible India was not work but an affair, an emotional one at that. One tends to fall in love with the central indian state of Madhya Pradesh that was indeed crafted by the gods with tourism in mind. Yet the infrastructure and image foisted on me at the time of my arrival was at wide variance with what perhaps was the intent of the gods, who as some publicity campaigns loudly proclaimed had ensconced themselves in the southern state of Kerala as their own country. Realizing the difficulties in changing the place of lodging, we resolved to create a tourism eco-system that would enable the gods to take a holiday whenever they wished to. And so “the heart of incredible India was born” with the state grabbing the bulk of national tourism awards since then. And again it was all and only about getting the best out of the men who manned tourism.

Running ITDC, the largest hospitality and tourism company of its time, provided a thrill of another kind. Competing against highly successful chains like the Taj and ITC that too in the aftermath of the 9/11 and in the process attempting to pull the company out of the abyss it found itself in, was an immense challenge. The glamour of the hotels shadowed their real poverty borne out of years of losses and the long faces of the men manning the desks in the company reflected the tremendous amount of focus that the human resource had been craving for. Yet the company, especially the iconic Ashok Hotel slowly turned around despite being put on block and the downturn that the tourism sector had been witnessing those days. To the chagrin of many, the men pulled the company out of the pits and started walking erect once again.

And till recently the railways. It was a ballgame of another kind. The largest organization in the world that has a great attached to its name has been a victim of its own creation, its own highly capable but control centric bureaucracy almost choked the organization leading to unfortunate incidents, infrastructure deficit and a low public image. Its highly capable men were constricted by a machinery that made delivery, other than the routine of course, impossible. And the panacea was transformation, transforming the culture, processes and structure, a no mean task by any standards. Yet a beginning could be made by bringing focus and concern for the human resource, delegating authority and beginning to de-complicate the over complex machinery. Reinforcing the supremacy of deliverance over processes and that of the human resource over the other M’s, while at the same time stressing the need for honesty in all our dealings started making the difference, and hopefully this shall continue in the overall national interest.

I savored the journey as much as the fruits of it. Despite treacherously long work hours, the tremendous love and affection showered by employees of almost all strata kept me going right through.

My biggest learning during the journey has been that life is much bigger than everything else – a human soul is not to be wasted, discarded or pulled down. Getting the best out of your men is the only strategy that the top management should follow, rest the men would find out and implement. The established supremacy of the human resource over all other resources needs to be accepted.

That impeccable integrity is the most powerful ingredient that any organization aspiring for success should ingrain itself with was a thought that got reinforced repeatedly, with the realization that integrity cannot be a strategy, but has to become a way of life for the organization as a whole and also its constituents.

I learnt that it is not merely bad decisions that kill organizations, indecision is the most powerful sure and silent killer.

I realized that morale of the men and the pride they have in the organization is everything.

And the inability of the top management to stand up for what is right and correct what is wrong, is invariably the biggest malaise that organizations generally have.

It has been a tremendous journey and now as it comes to a close, my head bows down to all my men who indeed madeliving itselfworth the while.