Business Today 14th January 2018 - Page 42

The Best Management Lesson I Learnt ideas and opinions that mattered to him rather than the hierarchy of positions, age and titles. It created an atmosphere of openness for discussions since I knew that I could win if I had good data. It also taught me that losing the current transaction did not bias JGK against me and that I had as much chance as anybody else of winning the next transaction. Most important- ly, it gave me confidence that my boss was a fair per- son and that I could argue with him about the next is- sue. Indeed, the confidence of every one of the juniors and colleagues working with JGK was high since they knew he had no bias and that he just sought merit in every argument. When I joined as Head of the Software Group at Patni Computer Systems in Mumbai in 1977, I decided to use this lesson in every transaction with my team members as well as my boss, Ashok Patni. He was a courteous boss. It was very easy to argue with him using data and facts, since he, too, be- lieved in them. I continued this tradition of using data and facts, and insisting on the merit of the argument to de- cide every issue when I founded Infosys in 1981. This dependency on data and facts, starting every transaction on a zero base, and not carrying the hys- teresis of bias from prior transactions to the current transaction, created an environment of openness, honesty, meritocracy, confidence, enthusiasm and fairness among my colleagues. In the 33 years that I was associated with Infosys from 1981 to 2014, the morale of the youngsters was high. If a leader wants to earn the trust and confidence of his or her people, two important attributes are required – leadership by example and transparency & fairness in every decision the leader makes All our employees knew that they could voice their opinions without fear as long as they had proper data with them. The y knew that titles did not matter. All doors were always open. We followed the adage “You can disagree with me as long as you are not disagree- able”. Whether it was a co-founder or a janitor, the person had full confidence to walk into my office when I was free and discuss any issue and disagree with me. Even today, I get at least 10 mails every week from Infoscions seeking my advice on many personal and professional dilemmas they face. Almost every one of these mails refers to my penchant for fairness, and for depending on data and facts. S uch steadfast reliance on data and facts to de- cide every issue is a must, when you have a large number of bright and articulate senior col- leagues, and when you are in the company of bright, knowledgeable and articulate young professionals. I was lucky to be surrounded by my co-founders, as well as bright, articulate and value-based people like Mohandas Pai, V. Balakrishnan, Srinath Batni, D.N. Prahlad, M.D. Ranganath, Phaneesh Murthy, B.G. Srinivas, Nithyanandan, Panduranga, Rajesh Krish- namurthy, Ramadas Kamath, Sharad Hegde, Deepak Padaki, H.R. Binod, Tan Moorthy, Nandita Gurjar, Hema Ravichandar, Sanjay Purohit, Richard Lobo, and many other smart youngsters. I may have forgot- ten several names. I have just named a sample of the people with whom I had close interactions. My apolo- gies to those I have forgotten to mention. But these people had no heroes. Their only hero was data. They had very high self-confidence and dignity. To them, merit, honesty, transparency and fairness were important. What they wanted in every decision was openness to new ideas, discussion, de- bate, honesty, leadership by example, transparency and fairness. They hated intrigue, dishonesty, opacity, favouritism, bias and game playing. By insisting on data and facts, we achieved transparency and fairness in every transaction in an environment of openness, and had a hierarchy of ideas rather than hierarchy of titles. As long as you had good data with you and you argued logically, they bowed to you, smiled, accepted your argument, owned the decision wholeheartedly, gave their 100 per cent to implement the idea, and defended the decision in public. Thus if a leader wants to earn the trust and con- fidence of his or her people, there are two important attributes required – leadership by example, and transparency and fairness in every decision the leader makes. Such a focus on transparency and fairness will only be achieved if every issue is decided on data and facts, and such data and facts are disseminated to ev- ery stakeholder on a need-to-know basis. 42 I BUSINESS TODAY I January 14 I 2018