Business Today 14th January 2018 - Page 54

The Best Management Lesson I Learnt My mantra is very simple. It is passion, commitment and devotion. This cannot come from outside. It has to come from deep within you – only then will it be sustainable for months that will become years and years that will become decades down to one simple but irreplaceable character- istic – courage. I learnt this when I was a child. My father told me if you are in the right, you have nothing to fear. Courage is the No. 1 trait of lead- ership. Courage does not mean being abrasive or aggressive. It means you refuse to back down, come what may. There can be no compromise on your core principles. I to you. If you are uninterested and half-hearted, you are doing your job and yourself a disservice. I f you have passion, you will always want to be in the thick of action. Right from my early days, I could never remain a passive spectator. The chair given to me in D4 building was empty most of the time. My then boss Mr Baker asked some- one about me and was told: Mr Naik is always in the workshop. If I had continued to sit in the chair, and attempted to supervise operations from there, I would not have reached the position (where) I am today. Wherever I have been in the last 50 years – at the workshops, in the old Group II, as CEO and later as Chairman – I bring in action with me. And it is action that marks you out as a leader. People say that in the course of 50 years, I have found innovative solutions, thought out of the box, and overcome difficulties. I think it all boils n the early years, business at Hazira was slack. Vijay Kumar Magapu, the former CEO and MD of what was then known as L&T Infotech and a former head of the Hazira manufacturing complex, recalls those days with dry wit. “We had a phase when we were all dressed up but had nowhere to go. The workshop was capable of doing various things, but we had no business at all, no orders. So we all sat down with Mr Naik for hours and thought: What is wrong with us, why no orders! We realised that we were not reaching out to the market. So Mr Naik just picked up his bag and broke into the very cold atmosphere of government officials, request- ing proposals. His style was to charm them, show his passion and be very persistent. A manufactur- ing man selling and succeeding!” Naik himself, though, can be refreshingly hon- est about his imperfections. “You have to (be) in- trospective on your strengths and weaknesses,” he says. “Weaknesses are something you have to think especially deeply about – and be most worried about. Total elimination of weakness is not pos- sible, but you have to reduce them. (Excerpted from The Nationalist, with permis- sion from HarperCollins India). 54 I BUSINESS TODAY I January 14 I 2018