“I Draw Energy From My Own Success Stories!”

Sanjay Dutt, CEO India operations Ascendas- Singbridge in conversation with B&E says “always believe in your team,respect them and be ready to give them a chance to prove themselves.

What are your most powerful leadership techniques?

Sanjay Dutt (SD): We live in extraordinary times. Our environment (the world) is changing and we are in constant flux, much more than earlier. Hence, it becomes all the more challenging for a leader to perform the role of a guide through these changes while moving towards a common objective.

Knowledge and experience is key. Besides of course, a leader should have the ability to analyze the business environment and come out with a clear defined path for his or her business.

 A leader should be able to do the following:

  • Mold – reinvent – refocus on business, taking his organization/ colleagues into confidence.
  • Have purpose, belief, conviction, the ability to execute and finally of course supervise.
  • He should lead by example.
  • At the right stage- take right the action that translates to results.
  • Be transparent and truthful.

 What according to you is the one most important quality of a leader?

(SD): Always believe in your team and do not carry any baggage. One should respect others, observe people and always give them a chance.

One of the biggest strengths of good leaders is their ability to convince individuals. It’s important to get all stakeholders on the same page and execute by triggering energy and momentum.

For example, once a job is finalized, I just act and do not linger or leave it for further deliberations. I also take the team into confidence and ensure they succeed since their success or failures are mine too.

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?

(SD): It is important to observe the market and the environment very closely. This makes you more aware and one’s objective should be to find solutions that can help achieve your goals.

Be aware as a leader.Every leader knows what he or she is good at and also their weaknesses. Embrace the reality and define your boundaries. One can’t be successful at all times and even though we should aspire and aim higher,we should be mature enough to know what we can achieve.

I believe, by leveraging on the strength of the organization and colleagues, one can tackle and overcome any challenge.

How do you inspire and sustain motivation?

(SD): I see life positively. I get motivated by other leaders when they excel. When I achieve something I get a sense of achievement and that motivates me too. I draw energy from my own success stories.

 However, there should not be any arrogance or greed. Have a purpose in mind and focus on actual performance and delivery.

Another thing that motivates me is helping others who need it most. I have taken tough assignments which seemed impossible to do from the outside but went ahead because someone needed genuine help. That gives me immense satisfaction and motivation.

What are the most important qualities of a leader ?

(SD): Change and subsequent disruption is the norm. Do not resist change. Focus on the short term objective while preparing your medium term strategies. There should always be a commercial motive behind a business.

While managing large organizations, a leader should be able to create a sense of urgency while making the environment easy and comfortable.

Can we teach people to become better leaders? Is it an inborn skill or can it be taught?

(SD): I come from a simple background with middle class family values. I believe, leadership skills also come from your family values and upbringing, your experiences, all of which shape you as an individual.

A leader should develop good values and apply it dispassionately. Have a touchpoint at all levels and do not differentiate or categorize people. I give as much weightage to a colleague as much asIdo to a customer.

If the organisation’s culture is learning oriented, then learning sometimes comes from within the organization rather than outside. This also helps produce leaders.

How important is team work in achieving success?

(SD): Team work is important. However, a team’s composition is dynamic and likely to change.

I use my colleagues’ skills to understand business better and do so by realizing their potential to the fullest

People and businesses are related. Demonstrate that there’s growth for everybody if the business is to grow profitably.

Another skill leaders possess is conflict management. A key factor in managing conflicts is maturity and open mindedness. Meeting the organisation’s objective is of utmost importance. Whatever is right will always prevail.

The secret to getting more done in a day as compared to others.

(SD : I simplify the approach.Everyday, I set out a maximum of two-three objectives to achieve and two-three problems to solve.

The secret to handling failure effectively?

(SD): Failures are part of your life. While one can draw satisfaction from success, failures are learning lessons.I consider it to be the biggest failure when one doesn’t learn from their failure.

How do you prioritize work and life?

(SD): It’s very important to prioritize work and life.

Personally while I have looked after my family and organization, I feel I could have done better in looking after myself. A busy life should not keep you away from recreation.

How do organisations develop leaders?

(SD): Most organisations fail to develop leaders. Most of the leaders drop two-three levels down to do jobs of their subordinates.Initially this was due to lack of leadership skills and talent; currentlyit is due to insecurity about themselves and the environment. Lately, one sees this because of a lack of investment in grooming talent.

Leaders you admire?

(SD): I do not have a specific godfather. I like people who are solutions providers

and innovators.I admire people who’ve demonstrated great qualities in today’s environment, exampleMr Deepak Parekh, MrAjay Piramal to name a few.Ialso have respect for people who are perfectionists such as MrSanjay LeelaBhansali.

I admire Dhoni for his leadership skills in such a competitive environment. Individuals achieving success in differently abled sports at an Olympic level given the challenges they face, is also inspiring.

Amongst world leaders I admire MrLeeKuanYeu for what he has done for Singapore; NarendraModi for his focus to make India succeed is inspiring too.

Some concepts like micro-finance inspire me. And among organisatioins, I admire ITC and how it has diversified, moving away from its core.

Your views on the leadership skills of the next generation of leaders?

(SD): I think, in the medium term there will be enough disruptions in technology and business models. There will also be geo political threats to geography and business due to extremism, social unrest and terrorism.

In the mid to long term, there will be a dramatic shift in business. There will be aggregators in business resulting in consolidation and technology will enable that.

Technology will play a big role in the next phase of globalization. There will be consolidation, simplification and innovation and business may shift more towards growing in emerging economies, moving away from West towards parts of Central Asia.

The next generation of leaders should be able to foresee this and adapt to operating in such dynamic environments.

Best advice you can give to the future leaders

(SD): Extraordinary environments demand outstanding professionals. Mediocracy is long gone. Continually raise the bar of your performance since, the benchmark of high performance is also moving up rapidly.

Keep re-inventing and invest in yourselves. Education is not a one- time thing. To be relevant in this changing world, re-invest in your training and development.

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