Prajodh Rajan Co-founder and CEO, EuroKids International, under whose dynamic leadership EuroKids has grown from 2 pre-schools to more than 900 pre-schools today, speaks to B&E about the role of leaders in building successful work places.
What are your most powerful leadership techniques?
Prajodh Rajan (PR): Leadership is more an art than it is a science, and one can become successful by acquiring appropriate leadership skills. Every great business needs somebody who can inspire employees to reach deep within themselves to get things done. Unfortunately, as per a study almost 60% of all businesses have a shortage of leadership talent, and this shortage has a negative impact on the ability of these organizations to perform and reach their goals.
I do think that a good leader must be able to spell out the raison d’etre of the organization. Once this is clear to every person within the organization, all efforts can then be synergized towards creating the difference that one seeks to achieve. One must be able to structure the way forward and define a clear picture of the road that lies ahead. Having defined the roadmap for the organization, it’s important to be honest and candid with the team on the expectations and to follow through on all commitments ensuring that the leader does walk the talk. This ability to perform as pronounced, makes the difference and truly puts the ‘lead’ in the leader.
Aristotle once said the hardest victory is the victory over self. What are the self-mastery secrets that make you the world class leader that you are?
(PR): Yes, the hardest victory is over self. In a day and age when there are such rapid changes occurring in the business environment it’s imperative that one keeps self-improving and is abreast and updated with the latest business developments. In today’s competitive environment it’s necessary for the leader to strike a balance between the head and the heart so that one is able to keep an open mind: be open to absorb new ideas and suggestions, which in turn ensures that one is continuously open to being challenged in views and opinions.
According to you what is the one most important quality of a leader?
(PR): One of the most important qualities of a leader is to possess mental strength. A leader must have a strong mental makeup and must be firm in all his decisions. A great example of this would be Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has the power of organizing, taking tough decisions and staying calm even in the most nerve wracking situations.
Can we teach people to become better leaders?
(PR): Everyone needs a business coach. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to find the right business coach in life. One may have the ability to access an education by paying the commensurate fee. But how does one get the benefit of acting upon years of wisdom, without actually having experienced those years?
The answer to that lies in finding a business mentor who assists you in travelling the path that you are to undertake, who will be a sounding board for all your doubts. One who will be your counsel in times of strife and who will direct you towards the right path but at the same time will ensure that the journey to be taken is yours and yours alone.
What is the secret to building a strong and efficient team?
(PR): In a team, a leader has to work with different individuals in order to achieve common goals. However, as a leader one must understand that no two people work in the same way. What motivates one person, most certainly will not motivate the other and hence it is critical to know what drives different individuals. The idea of a common objective being achieved is only possible once the leader is aware of the driving force that motivates different people working towards that objective. Secondly, his team must be aware and should understand ‘The why we do… of the what we do’. If this understanding is entrenched deeply in the system, then it will ensure that people unify under this common network and achieve the objective as desired.
The secret to getting more done in a day as compared to others ?.
(PR): There are two things one must imbibe in one’s routine. First plan schedules in advance and second prioritize work in order of importance so that one can extract the maximum out of the day.
The motivation secrets of a leader-How do you inspire and sustain motivation.
(PR): It’s often said that people who are great leaders ensure that they gain the trust and confidence of their team and co-workers. Effective communication plays a vital role in this regard. A great example of this is our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He has reached the people in a manner that very few politicians of India have been able to. He has struck an emotional chord with individuals of all age groups and his followers include people from the urban intelligentsia to the rural masses, from old to the young, across both genders within India and outside. He has also innovatively used new age technology and social media to connect with a wide range of people and spread his message across boundaries.
The secret to handling failure effectively?
(PR): Sometimes one does not achieve the desired result at work. It’s important to reflect and understand the reasons for not achieving what is desired. Often we take failure too personally and do not view it as just a temporary blip in our long journey. It’s important to treat failure as a stepping stone to success; so that we can review our shortcomings, evolve to improve ourselves and return with renewed vigor.
How do you prioritize work and life?
(PR): It’s really tough in today’s competitive environment to structure an even balance to the ‘T’.In a 24*7 connected world, increasingly the lines are getting blurred and one is not sure that both these entities are mutually exclusive. I do believe, that as a leader, if one has the drive to accomplish what one sets out to, then work does not remain a task but instead becomes your passion and one develops the ability to easily switch between your passion and your responsibilities.
Leaders you admire?
(PR): I greatly admire Howard Schultz, best known as the chairman and CEO of Starbucks Coffee. The idea this man had was to not sell coffee but to create an unparalleled superlative coffee drinking experience. He made the experience itself at Starbucks aspirational and made the American population truly look forward to their morning cup of coffee. Another individual that I look upto is Jeff Bezos, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer Amazon. I admire him for his relentless pursuit of innovation and his ability to get his workers to invent and continuously come up with novel ideas.