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11 Leadership Lessons from Alexander the Great

Given their intense focus on culture and human capital, it may be surprising that the Indian leaders cited strategy as their top priority. But strategy also emerged as important in another of our surveys, which explored changes in U. Over the past five years, Indian leaders began spending more time on internal issues, while U.

CEOs spent more time on external affairs.

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Whereas Western leaders often leave it to profit-center heads, Indian leaders are likely to own the strategy function, setting the agenda and taking a visible role in shaping the strategies their managers bring to them. They tend to focus less on Western-style planning and analysis and more on creating the incentives, organizational structures, and culture that will enable an improvisational approach to strategy.

Ratan Tata set a new strategic course for the Tata Group when he took it over, in At the time, it was doing virtually no business outside India. Consider the development of the Nano. Persistently improvising around obstacles, an approach captured by the Hindi word jugaad , they cut costs at every turn—for example, by repurposing scooter parts and eliminating extras such as power windows. When we compared these data with MLQ data for U. Our research revealed striking differences between Indian and U. The rapid growth of the Indian market and the inadequate scale of health and education systems have forced companies to develop and help care for their own talent.

Social investment pays off in other ways, too. For B. In India, CSR is a reputational asset. Obtaining industrial licenses and environmental clearance can depend on being known for public responsibility. The group soon discovered that the only way to provide quality operations cheaply was to standardize them, so it set about learning to perform them at scale. It now performs more than twice as many cardiac surgeries as the biggest U.

Other Indian companies similarly interweave strategy and social mission. The telecommunications provider Bharti Airtel sees its mission as getting cell phones into the hands of the hundreds of millions of people in India who otherwise have no way to communicate with one another. IT companies such as Cognizant and Infosys describe their social mission in part as showing the world that India and Indian companies can compete and win on the international stage.

Finally, more so than most Western companies, the best Indian companies have a social mission and a sense of national purpose because that helps employees find meaning in their work. Missions motivate by tapping into what organizational psychologists call task significance—a satisfying feeling that small tasks link to the bigger goal. President Lyndon Johnson loved to tell a story about asking a truck driver who worked at NASA in the s what his job was. Indian leaders also build employee commitment by encouraging openness and reciprocity.

The motivational message is clear: Employees are accountable to management, and management is equally accountable to them.


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So that engagement will translate into action, Indian leaders go to considerable lengths to empower employees, although this challenges the traditional Indian deference to hierarchy. Tata Consultancy Services has a similar system whereby employees can submit grievances about management, which may be settled through arbitration.

From our research library: Lessons from Nelson Mandela for Africa's development

I have done it again and again…. The implementation would be quick and smooth, and they will feel very proud of it, but it serves your purpose. Well-paid, longtime employees were highly resistant to change, and the bank found itself eclipsed by nimbler private-sector competitors. Enter Anil K. Khandelwal, who took over as chief executive in and immediately created a sense of mission. They agreed to staff their branches from AM to PM without overtime pay and designed their own marketing events to announce the new schedule.

Khandelwal wrote letters to the employees every week, explaining goals and describing progress, and often met with them at local branches to make the case for change. The program was a huge success. The bank has since added around-the-clock staffing at several locations. Along the way, Khandelwal introduced such empowering innovations as a direct line to his office for employees seeking his input on problems. Finally, both our qualitative and our quantitative data show that Indian companies invest heavily in employee development—often more so than Western companies.

When we asked Indian leaders an open-ended question about their human resources development, their responses consistently touched on four themes: managing and developing talent, shaping employee attitudes, managing organizational culture, and internationalization. By far the majority of responses fell into the first category. The HR departments of Indian companies do more measurement than U. HR departments on virtually every aspect of their field, while outsourcing basic tasks such as benefits and employee administration.

They also have more sophisticated systems—such as workforce planning and succession management—than are common in the United States. Statistics suggest that about a quarter of new hires in the United States received no training of any kind in their first two years of employment. Skilled workers are in short supply in India; major investment in employee development pays off because it helps ensure the quality of the workforce that remains. Consistent with this starkly different attitude toward training, three times as many Indian as U. A recent Kauffman Foundation study indicates that the Indian IT industry provides new hires with about 60 days of formal training.

Some companies do even more: Tata Consultancy Services has a seven-month training program for science grads who are being groomed for business consulting roles. In addition, all TCS employees receive 14 days of formal training each year. Even relatively low-skill industries, such as business-process outsourcing and call centers, typically provide 30 days of training, and retail companies require about 20 days. Programs like these are not limited to entry-level workers. Employee investment continues with leadership development; almost twice as many companies in India as in the U.

Following those reviews, the company draws up a development plan for each candidate that includes coaching, training, and rotational assignments. The process creates a pool of candidates to fill anticipated vacancies. This may sound similar to some U. Just how much leadership practices contribute to the overall success of these large Indian companies is not easy to sort out. Does the focus on employees reflect the limitations of context? In other words, must these firms invest heavily in human capital in order to cope with heavy turnover?


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Is their emphasis on social mission as important to greasing the wheels as it is to motivating employees? The answer in each case may be yes, in part; nevertheless, these practices confer advantage in and of themselves by enhancing the value of human capital. Intra-regional trade is still low, at just 18 percent. The continent has continued to experience waves of gruesome violence that present a major challenge to peace, security and development.

Pre-election violence, herdsmen violence, ethnic clashes and terrorism are some of the issues affecting the region. The existence and, to some extent, growing influence of different extremist groups such as al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa especially in Kenya, Somalia and Uganda , Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria , and Al Mourabitoun among others in the Sahel region Mali are fuelling instability. He was a promoter of peace: not just the absence of conflict, but the creation of an environment where people from different backgrounds can coexist and flourish.

Realising the value and importance of maintaining unity, Mandela was able to reconcile with his fiercest political opponents and antagonistic parties, and worked closely with them. As he emphasised, a new, prosperous and peaceful Africa can only be built by united people.

Unlike the unrelenting conflicts in South Sudan, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the recent evolution in Ethiopia-Eritrea relations is in the spirit of Mandela's vision of peace and unity. It is time that other African leaders follow suit and prioritise national wellbeing over their personal interests and agendas. However, in Africa, state inefficiency and corruption have remained the norm, with the political elite and government officials seen to be operating with impunity. There is little to no accountability for the misuse of public funds. Throughout Africa, corruption is impeding economic development, damaging democratic gains and eroding public trust in government and key institutions.

Building a prosperous and integrated Africa The AU projects that by Africa will be a continent of shared prosperity, financing and managing its own growth and transformation. Pursing a peaceful Africa The continent has continued to experience waves of gruesome violence that present a major challenge to peace, security and development.

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