Be a Leader
A Leader is one who knows the way, shows the way & goes the way.
Opening Case Study:
A Charismatic Business Leader: Sunil Mittal
of the main driving forces behind the cellular revolution in India and a true
business leader, Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal is the chairman and Managing Director
of Bharti Group, which owns India’s largest GSM-based mobile phone service,
Airtel worth $9.5 million. Ranked as the sixth richest man in India, Mittal
today heads the USD 5 billion Bharti Group. Forbes magazine ranks him among
Asia’s self-made billionaires with a whopping net worth at some USD 11 billion.
Born on June 15, 1950 in Ludhiana, Punjab, Mittal graduated from the Punjab University
and with a degree in Bachelor of Arts and Science. He reclaimed the surname
Mittal much later in life. His father Sam Paul Mittal was a parliamentarian but
Sunil did not want to follow the beaten path and do something different.
As a teenager Mittal always had an inclination to do business. After his
graduation he teamed up with his friend to form a small bicycle business with
borrowed capital of Rs. 20,000. By 1979, Mittal sensed that the business would
remain small and therefore moved out of Ludhiana to Mumbai. By 1982, he had
started a full-fledged business selling portable generators imported from Japan
which gave him a good platform to involve himself in marketing and advertising.
Things were going smooth until the government banned the import of generators
as two Indian companies were awarded licenses to manufacture generators
locally. As luck refused to part away Mittal’s lucky break came in 1992, when
the government began issuing licenses for mobile phone services for the first
time and he clinched a deal with the French telecom group Vivendi for the Delhi
cellular circle. On his trip to Taiwan Mittal got fascinated by electronic push
button phones and in 1982, introduced them to India, replacing the old
fashioned, bulky rotary phones.
The year 1986 witnessed the launch of Bharti Telecom Limited (BTL) and entered into a technical tie up with Siemens AG of Germany for manufacture of electronic push button phones. By the early 1990s, Mittal was making fax machines, cordless phones and other telecom gear. In 1995, the Bharti Cellular Limited (BCL) was established and the brand ‘Airtel’ was launched. The rest as they say is history.. At the age of 55, Mittal can be rightly called as the ‘Business Leader’ because in a business where he is competing with Tata, Birla, Ambani and Vodafone, he is the biggest.
An entrepreneur must be a leader. Why? Because he or she must build and lead teams of people to accomplish the task, satisfy the customer, and do so at a price that leaves profit for the team members. In other words, ineffective leaders soon prove to be ineffective entrepreneurs because the customer isn’t satisfied nor the teams paid well. Nonetheless, many would-be entrepreneurs start business while ignoring the importance of leadership to the health of their enterprise.
Entrepreneurs should enter into markets where they feel they can satisfy the customers better than their competitors. For instance, Jack Welch, in his early days, was called “Neutron Jack” because he refused to be in a business sector where he couldn’t improve to either #1 or #2. His philosophy of business led him to get out of markets where he couldn’t be the best, and move into markets where he could be the best, thus maximizing profits for the company and ensuring employment for the workers. Incidentally, few seem to understand that only a profitable company can maintain its workers. Since profit is the life-blood of any business, when a company is losing money, it’s similar to a patient losing blood. In both instances, death results if the bleeding isn’t checked.
Accordingly, leaders are constantly studying the vital signs of their business, ensuring the business is not bleeding to death. In fact, leaders must be PDCA champions, constantly making adjustment in the areas where it can have the most impact. They don’t just change things to make change, however. Instead, they listen, study, and analyze until they determine which area of change could have the biggest impact on the bottom line. Then they do something unheard of in our modern world, namely, take massive action to drive the team and business forward.
The entrepreneur as leader should aspire to achieve the mentioned 10 key leadership qualities mentioned below and watch his business success skyrocket.
1. The successful leader has a vision: Think things through and know where you want to go and how you want to get there. Work with others to ensure a vision is followed through. Direct the actions and resources toward making it a reality.
2. The successful leader communicates well: Articulate a vision clearly to others. Encourage two-way communication between managers and non-managers and always be available to others. Strive to be succinct and specific about directions and instructions. Above all, a good leader avoids generalizations and ambiguities that can
lead to misunderstanding, conflict and poor performance.
3. The successful leader supports and guides the employees: Start by helping others clarify and achieve goals by identifying and removing any obstacles. Provide the resources (time, money, people, information and equipment) needed to complete the task. Don’t reprimand others who make mistakes when taking a well-calculated risk. Instead, critique and analyze what went wrong and what went right. Next, work with the employee to correct the error. Decide whether another attempt at a previous goal is necessary, and offer encouragement if it is. During the entire process, provide appropriate feedback to ensure positive attitudes and actions. Serve as a model of good attitude and use approaches that others can emulate.
4. The successful leader believes in his/herself: A good leader possesses a strong sense of confidence, built upon years of learning, experimenting and at times failing–but always growing. Be aware of personal strengths and limitations, and demonstrate those skills and talents without boasting. Assume responsibility for faults and personal errors without hiding them or blaming others, and know that if a mistake occurs, it does not equate inadequacy. A successful leader believes that he or she can turn around a negative situation by re-examining the variables and other circumstances–with input from others, when necessary.
successful leader creates the atmosphere that encourages others to grow and
thrive: Know that no one individual possesses all of the answers. By
appreciating the role that motivational techniques can play in improving
employee performance, you can work with others to increase organizational
productivity and improve individual job satisfaction. Here are some tips on how
to create a motivational atmosphere:
• Ask people their opinion rather than telling them yours
• When people ask you for solutions, have them come up with answers or options rather than telling them the best way to resolve a situation. Discuss the merits of their views and how to make them successful.
• Provide positive feedback when employees voice their opinions. Offer suggestions or try to resolve challenges. Reinforcing behavior on your part will encourage more spontaneity, thinking and innovation on their part
• Ask questions, even when you don’t know the answer. Ask employees challenging questions that encourage them to think, plan and react. Above all, encourage employees to challenge themselves.
• Encourage employees to take appropriate risks. Support them when they do and also when the outcome of risk-taking isn’t positive. In those cases, evaluate what went wrong and encourage other, more appropriate risks.
6. The successful leader manages by walking around: By getting out of the office and walking around the department, plant or building to interact with other employees, you get an opportunity to see people on the line doing daily tasks. Create an opportunity to informally chat with employees and learn something more about their work challenges and lives.
7. The successful leader acts and reacts in an honest manner: Honesty is the No. 1 characteristic of superior leaders. Honest leaders easily build trust and confidence. Their employees are more apt to work harder, ask questions and respect leaders who come across as honest. Employees will also accept critiques, whether positive or negative, from leaders they trust and believe.
8. The successful leader creates and fosters a learning environment: Recognize that increased knowledge, more job experience and challenging different mind-sets increases worker satisfaction, motivation and productivity. Frequently encourage others to think outside-the-box and see issues from alternate perspectives.
9. The successful leader perseveres: Don’t deflect from achieving goals simply because obstacles exist or no answer is readily available. Continue in your pursuit of excellence despite barriers and criticism, and encourage the same attitude in others.
10. The successful leader shares successes: Know that positive outcomes are rarely the result of
only one person’s attempts or input. A self-confident entrepreneur shares the
limelight and accolades with others who contributed to the final product or
After all, a leader must aim at creating more leaders, not followers.