“Leaders create Leaders”

Compassion, passion, resilience,a do-or-die attitude and the ability to nurture future leaders are some of the qualities that make Manoj Chugh, President-Enterprise Business, Tech Mahindrasuch an outstanding leader. He shares some of the best moments of his corporate journey with B&E.

What are your most powerful leadership techniques?

Manoj Chugh (MC): Powerful leadership skillsare the best way for one to achieve professional and personal objectives. The power of leadership skills is noted and required when you climb the corporate ladder and mine has been built over a period of time. In order to manage a large team and drive them to achieve the objectives I started strengthening my leadership skills at a very early stage in my career.Here are some of my leadership techniques.

*The world’s most successful entrepreneurs stay compassionate & determined even in the face of obstacles. One needs to build the skills, put in the time and more importantly, have a desire to do something great. Once whilst closing a large deal, when there was hopelessness around, I persevered with the team not to ‘give up”. Our “hunger” became even more visible to the customer. In the end, he gave the business to us, because he believed that we would “care more”.

*A leader in my perspective should be mindful of the latest happenings too.I read as much as I can and always carry articles, and reading material around with me both in digital and physical forms. One needs to “read ahead to remain ahead”.

*To move the needle, one has to make big bets—but never rush—always based on a careful study of the outcome. Taking risks but side by side enabling sustainable solutions is the task of every entrepreneur. A few years ago, I made a big bet to enter a business vertical, where we had not been successful in the past. I proverbially put all my eggs in one basket. It was a big investment and determined the future trajectory of my business. A “do or die” spirit ensued. When you know that the only option before you is to “die” if you do not succeed, magic happens! My bet paid off and we succeeded.

*Another one of my key- strategies for success has been to hire smart people who are from diverse backgrounds and are someone who I would have loved to work for my some day. Then I listen closely to their perspectives and ask them to challenge me and “push me”.

*It takes discipline to achieve and maintain success.You simply can’t do everything and sticking to your status-quo implies staying focused on the areas that will have the biggest impact—from both a leadership perspective and a career management perspective.

*Being ethical in your ways of working might appear to slow you down on your way to achieve your goals but will gain great respect among the masses.

* I love to be in the trenches with the team. That is where you have the most fun!

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

(MC): Our empirically dominated culture places all focus on the external and physical world, blinding the importance of the internal and mental. Self-mastery is being in control of the internal thought processes that guide our emotions, habits, and behaviors. It’s the ability to respond rather than react, Observe and notice. When you practice observation or noticing instead of judgment, you can just watch, notice, witness, and not become overwhelmed or victimized by any distress.More than often, I challenge my thought patterns and reasoning daily which further helps me with self-mastery.A more critical mind results in making better decisions. I am able to iron out any unreasonable biases that appear in my logic. The emphasis is always on putting on your own thinking crown before taking someone else’s—you can’t do much if you can’t breathe. Likewise, becoming the best version of yourself will equip you to spark change in the lives of others. Transforming your inner personal world will cause a ripple effect through your outer world too.  Victory over self is a sheer balance of good external structure & inner engineering..

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

(MC): The most important and respected leadership quality is integrity. It is the most required and most admired quality in anyone, but especially in an effective leader. Trust is the quality that binds all relationships together. The willingness and ability to trust the people that you look up to and report to is absolutely essential to your ability to perform at your very best. A leader should be a mix match of both being aggressive & empathetic. Leaders can be mapped in a 2×2 matrix stating Good Leader, Bad Leader, Good Boss and Bad Boss. A good leader could be a great boss (E.g. Atal Behari Vajpayee) similarly a good leader could be bad boss too (E.g. Steve Jobs). It’s up to us to choose our boss as per our aspirations and abilities to carve our future.

A leader has to be “caring”. Once a colleague of mine had the misfortune of going through a traumatic period of challenge, on account of certain personal issues within his family. He was distraught and “broken”. Normal business sense would have determined that I hire someone else and move on with life. Instead, (which on hindsight I believe was a good move), I assembled our entire team and asked them to take on a little more load each, if they felt that they could and wanted to help their team-mate. Everyone stepped up. Nine months later, the dark clouds disappeared and this colleague was back in action. Today, I am proud that he is a Senior Leader in our Industry.

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

(MC): Leadership is both an inborn skill and a skill that can be taught effectively. People with leadership potential don’t simply become leaders overnight. It’s up to the existing leaders to train the next generation, showing them how to guide a group of people towards a specific vision or goal. Leaders create leaders.

That said it is also on the person himself to practice and imbibe the qualities of the most successful and effective leaders and to hone his skills for leadership success. Only by continuously improving their skills can one gain the respect and admiration that one deserves.

Leadership is a lifelong practice to be able to achieve that feat where people admire you as a leader and once you stop practicing that you become past.

How important is team work in achieving success? The secret to building a strong and efficient team?

(MC): It depends on your definition of “teamwork.” It is absolutely critical if you define teamwork as everyone having a shared vision; clear roles and responsibilities; delivering their best to help the entire unit succeed; and keeping personal differences from derailing the group’s performance and results.

The problem is that many leaders and organizations believe “teamwork” also includes liking each other; hanging out after work; going along to get along; or sharing personal stories after a long-day of team-building games. If that’s your definition, teamwork is not as important as you think.

The secret to building a strong and efficient team is much more than renaming the “marketing department” the “marketing team.” The substance of teamwork is about people working together to achieve more than they could have by working individually and independently. If you believe in teamwork, start by knocking down the barriers that keep people from working together. How do you find out what those barriers are? Just ask your employees, what keeps you from working as a team. They’ll tell you.A team that performs AND gets along is the best of all worlds. But if I have to choose, I’ll take talented professionals with a shared vision, clear roles, and a commitment to mutual success.

The secret to getting more done in a day as compared to others. (What are the most important day to day habits that help you get the maximum out of the day? Your secret of effective time management)

(MC): Yes, there are too few hours in the day but I try to manage the same effectively by keeping an updated calendar wherein I plot out my daily schedule. This includes blocks of time that are best for focused for work (ideally that time of day when I feel very productive), blocks that are best for meetings (my co-worker Kavita likes to schedule them in the afternoon—they energize me when otherwise owing to the time of the day one ends up feeling drowsy), and, of course, blocks for answering emails (usually I do that on the go).

Obeying the time is the secret to time management. For me 0800 hours means 0759 hours. It’s always better to be a minute early than be late.

The motivation secrets of a leader-how do you inspire and sustain motivation?

(MC): One of the biggest challenges in meeting any goal, whether it be related to productivity, waking early, changing a habit, exercising, or just becoming happier, is finding the motivation to stick with it. I’ve had many failures, but also many successes, and I’ve learned a lot from all of them. Be resilient in order to bounce back from failures, because failure is just a phase for ethical and hard workers. Motivation has been a particularly important topic of exploration for me. I’ve found that it’s important to start out with the right motivation, because a good start can build momentum that you can sustain for a long time. If you start out right, you have a much better chance of succeeding. Thus, start small, stick to one goal, examine your motivation, commit to it publicly, be excited, build anticipation and print it out, post it up at a place your eye cannot miss it.

The second half of motivation is to keep yourself going when you don’t feel the same excitement as you did in the beginning. Hold yourself back and squash negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. This can be initiated by thinking about the benefits, finding like-minded company, reading inspiring stories and building on your current successes. Just get through the low points by seeking help if required. Chart your progress against mini-goals and reward yourself often for it.

The secret to handling failure effectively?

(MC): It’s good to have few failures in life. It make you learn things in a much better way and also make you understand your competencies. Work with different attitudes toward failure and rejection. What counts isn’t how many transactions fall out, how many people hang up on you, how many things don’t work out, how many people go back on their word. What counts is how many times you pick yourself up, shrug off the failure, learn from it, and keep trying to make things come together. As Einstein once said, “Failure is Success in progress”

There are challenges and obstacles in business, but they are all temporary if you take control of your thoughts and develop the right attitude. I believe that winners are winners because they’ve learned to fuel their success drives by overcoming failure.

How do you prioritize work and life?

(MC): In order for your priorities to even matter, you need to have some sort of a personal productivity system in place to which you hold yourself accountable—and in which your priorities will actually matter. There’s a law of diminishing returns, where the more time we spend on something, the more the quality of work decreases,” Eurich said. “Setting a time limit for an activity can help you focus and get it done. I learned a number of helpful tricks that helped me manage my workload at the office as well as the ever-growing list of to-dos at home, with family, or with friends. I first answered the question “Is everything really important?” When it came to prioritizing tasks that involve other people, like family, friends, and coworkers, I talked to them. At times I also work backwards to find out what I should be working on right now (or what I should have already started, in some cases). Finally, I set expectations of others for when I’ll get their work done, and set expectations of myself for when I’ll have time to work on my own projects. Decline, if you think you can’t deliver work on time is better than delaying.

Leaders you admire?

(MC): I admired Dadan Bhai a lot. He was one of the early leaders I worked with at the start of my career in Kolkata. His direct style appealed to me. His nugget of wisdom, narrated in an early style always made me introspect and think. Dadan is no more amidst us, but his learnings, teachings, counsel and wisdom will always remain alive within me.

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

(MC): A leader’s role is to see the big picture and prepare for what is ahead – and that role includes grooming the next generation of leaders.Preparation for a leadership position can start early in an employee’s career. From entry-level to executive, all employees can fine tune their leadership skills through day-to-day experience, professional development sessions, performance evaluations and a professionally rewarding office culture.

As leaders, our role is to guide our organizations, make wise decisions and invest in what will lead to success now and in the future. An important aspect of this is grooming the next generation of leaders. It is a long-term commitment brought to fruition by daily efforts. In addition to creating a culture and systems that prepare employees for leadership, as leaders we must model the right behavior every day. It’s exhausting and ultimately exhilarating – and it is what we have signed-up for as business leaders.

Best advice you can give to the future leaders

(MC): Gear up; put on your safety belt it’s going to be an exciting ride into a digital world. Companies will hire or engage with people who are smarter and more capable in their respective areas than the past generation. As young leaders deal with this generation of business leaders who understand technology’s role, they will be able to learn and make a profound impact in truly partnering with peers to create a stronger relationship between a business’s processes and how it utilizes IT. IT is a fast-paced business. Stay up with technology. Your organization’s success depends on your ability to use technology to get ahead. However, it is important to remember to ensure that the technology makes a meaningful contribution.

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