Sunday, June 26, 2005

Study on Indian CEO's


A recent study on CEO's leadership style in India shows that indian leadership style model has some unique features which management Guru's find relevent for western counterpart.

The main features of the report are given below.

Patient but Focused, India’s CEOs Rapidly Develop Business and Society
and in the Process Offer New Insights to their Western Counterparts

Much has been made of India’s recent high-tech-fueled economic boom. According to new research, however, there’s more than talent and technology that’s driving the growth of Indian business. A recent study of some of the country’s most successful business leaders uncovered several key attributes that help them develop their companies and the economy, and set them apart from their US and European counterparts.

Although the purpose of the year-long study was to assist India’s Public Enterprise Selection Board, which is responsible for choosing CEOs and top executives for publicly owned companies, the results offer some important insights for executives from other countries and cultures, who find themselves collaborating with Indian companies with growing frequency.

Sponsored by the Bharat Petroleum Corporation, one of India’s leading oil and gas companies, and directed by Hay Group, which specializes in leadership selection and development, the study examined the traits, behaviors, and motives of 30 of India’s top CEOs. Through extensive interviews in which the executives spoke in detail of both successful and frustrating experiences as leaders, Hay Group researchers identified four key areas that set Indian CEOs apart from outstanding top executives in other countries.

A single-minded focus on growth and innovation. The top Indian CEOs are intensely focused on innovation, growth, and business results. They voraciously seek out new information, technology, and ideas to adapt to India’s unique needs and opportunities. At the same time, they spend less time than their peers in other countries on organizational politics and individual, personal issues. Almost all of the experiences the Indian CEOs spoke about were directly focused on growth, compared to about half of those reported by Western CEOs, who often focus on concerns such as their reputation, culture change, and succession planning.

A highly altruistic business philosophy. Unlike most Western executives, Indian leaders frequently think about doing what is right for society. While outsiders often dismiss this as “merely talk,” Hay Group researchers found that it is genuine and influences important business decisions. Many of the Indian CEOs, for example, demonstrated commitment to meeting the needs of the huge middle and lower market segments and achieving growth through reliable but inexpensive goods and services. They also took business risks to address society’s needs.

A high degree of resilience and integrity. The best Indian CEOs display high levels of integrity and inner strength. Both are essential in the Indian business culture, where one frequently must run a gauntlet of stringent governmental reviews, tough media queries, and lengthy negotiations. Such processes, and the costly delays they can create, take a significant toll on executives and well as their businesses. Thus patience and fortitude are critical.

A more formal, “professional” approach to people and relationships. Indian CEOs tend to keep business relationships more formal and professional than their Western peers. Although demonstrating compassion for others, they tend to avoid close individual relationships in work settings, and assess employees on professional attributes such as education and experience rather than on personal qualities.

Tharumah Rajah, who led Hay Group’s research efforts, says the findings shed new light on India’s rapid growth and development as a global economic power, and provides insight into the frustrations that arise in business relationships between Indian and Western business leaders.
“What executives from other cultures and countries may view as impersonal, perplexing, even contradictory behavior,” he says, “Indian executives see as proper and necessary— not only for the success of their organizations, but also for the success of their country and society.
“As India’s economy grows, opportunities for developing relationships with Indian companies will increase. Making those relationships work, however, will require a better understanding and recognition — on both sides — of the differences in values and approaches to managing business and people.”

Rajah offers the following suggestions for working with Indian organizations and executives:

1. Emphasize growth, results, and innovation. Be generous in providing technical and other information, knowing it will be put to good use.
2. Be patient and helpful when you run into situations involving what may seem to be excessive, time-consuming interference by outside agencies. (Indian executives refer to this as “boundary management.”) Build extra time into project planning to allow for these issues.
3. Recognize that your Indian counterparts’ thinking about jobs and people may be different from yours. Use discretion in deciding whether to accept their approach or suggest alternatives.
4. When Indian business leaders talk about what is good for India, listen carefully and take them seriously. Probe your Indian counterparts to understand how they see the project supporting India’s development, and take measures to highlight these benefits to society.

Mary Fontaine, Hay Group’s global director of leadership development, suggests that more Western executives might also consider adopting some of the Indian approaches to leadership.

“Many might benefit by emulating the approach of Indian CEOs, especially when it comes to their intense focus on growth and innovation and on doing what is right for society and developing nations,” she notes. “We often espouse these values, but find it difficult to execute them, given other pressures we face.”


Ajit Chouhan

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