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My 4 Cents on Leadership

My real brush with #leadership happened in 1996 when my unit head while inducting me as a frontline in #Pepsi urged on the abilities to” Lead & Execute” as defining in their work culture. “The performances you create will be contingent on how you marshal your team of 8 route agents and 16 loaders. Your personal brilliance alone will not be able to make up for any sub-optimal team interplay” he elaborated. Two things got ingrained in my DNA in that delightful journey. First “You can only demand what you can demonstrate”, not once but every moment of your life day in day out. Even the slowest moving part galvanizes on witnessing how you play on the battlefield. Second” give your teams off the field and they give you on the field”. Taking the effort to know your teams better, their trials and tribulations, their aspirations, and fears going that extra mile to support them beyond the call of duty builds bonds of trust and rousing connect.


The simplicity of the insights I build created consummate success and I became wanderlust in the fascinating journey of leadership. Today some two decades later I quest to enunciate what I have been nourished with so far.


Life is easy when it is “Black & White” but becomes intriguing when shades of grey pan out. The playground of leadership is never binary but mostly on crossroads. #Leaders play along the spectrum and keep evolving. I saw several exceptional people around me scaling up the leadership ladder, I thought I’d share a few reflections looking at their #transformation.


A leader is “Passionate & Detached” at the same time or maybe at different times. #Passion is the starting point and the source of their boundless energies. They see what others don’t, have the gumption to navigate on the path they deem fit, and through their strong work ethic inspire those around them and create that magic. At the same time, they become detached from what they have created if they find it to be losing merit or relevance and move on. The leadership at #Kodak was passionate about traditional photography but couldn’t detach at the right time to embrace digital. #SteveJobs obsessed with the creation of IPod but that never stopped him from creating the smartphone which could kill the former.


Second, a new age leader has the “Width & the Depth”. They straddle the spectrum beyond and are boundless. It requires one to operate at the depth of the frontline, and the width of global business simultaneously. They can zoom in, be in the moment and do what it takes or maybe better at the last mile. This is not just to role model, or manage, but to be at the frontier of action to foresee and enact change. They also have the time to zoom out at 30,000 feet and envision.


Third, leaders of today have a #Technology First” and a “Human First” Mindset. Technology creates infinite scalability, creates efficiency, and reduces drudgery. Moreover, it creates opportunities that never existed or create possibilities in situations that never existed like the current COVID19 times. Technology obsession is not a bailiwick of a few, but of all #business leaders striving to innovate, simplify, scale, or surge ahead. The digital world we live in is an on-going outcome of this obsession. At the same time, these leaders obsess on unlocking human potential. They don’t see them as cost centers but a means to unleash value out of the greatest creation of almighty. They strive to create jobs that bring out the best in us and remove drudgery. A Taxi driver loves to drive, churn miles, and connect with customers but hates the wait and haggle to create order, negotiate prices. ”Uberization” did just that and also made them owners.


Finally, leaders “Lead & Serve” at the same time. They are the beacon, show the path but it is not about authority. It is a quest to serve the big purpose, employees & shareholders. Through service, they gain insight, have ears closed to the ground, create win-win relationships, and produce great outcomes. They are not quick to judge but are curious to understand. They serve the truth and are brutal about it, but at the same time appreciate the process and not the outcomes.



Dhruv Bhagat

ex. CEO Bharti Airtel

ex. Pepsico


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