Pankaj Dubey MD & Country Head, Polaris India & Indian Motorcycles and CEO & Director Eicher Polaris P Ltd., in a conversation with Business & Economy talks about the power of dreams, of teams, and of self belief.
What are your most powerful leadership techniques?
Pankaj Dubey (PD): I strongly believe in the process of delegation and teamwork. Through delegation, I actually multiply my efficiency by rightfully dividing the work with my colleagues. It not only empowers my colleagues but help us in realizing the dream of a progressive organization.
Team and team work is a practice which I have always encouraged at the workplace as it not only strengthens the bond among the employees but also allows the meeting of targets at a faster pace. As Henry Ford had said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success”. Let me give you an example. Everyone was worried about how the ATV industry will do in India, where the products are expensive and cannot be driven ‘on road’. We brain stormed and invited the views of all our team members. Based on the various suggestions which we received from the team, we went ahead and started Polaris Experience Zones. Today PEZ as a concept is growing rapidly and spreading across the country.
I also believe that very individual has strengths and weaknesses and I focus on their strengths to get the best out of them . Sometimes I have even tried to get the dead wood moving and it has worked
Any tricks or techniques you have that help you stay ahead and keep you abreast with the latest changes –in today’s exceptionally fast changing world?
PD :- Every human being is a bundle of energy which is referred to as soul, atma or rooh in Christianity, Sanatan Dharma and Islam respectively. We all know energy can neither be created nor destroyed therefore you and me can neither be created nor destroyed . The key is to know this simple fact and build on the same. The capacity of each human being is immense; the limitation is only ‘self doubt’. I strongly believe “Dreams can turn real”. The power of words and actions that back up the dream can makes every person turn his dreams into reality. So believe in yourself and you can achieve whatever you dream of. I also believe that to stay abreast, one must keep on learning as it is a never ending process. Continuous learning is the key to success that keeps you improving. Lastly I feel all good leaders should always be ready to accept a challenge, whenever it comes his way, specially a tough one.
What according to you are the most important qualities of a leader?
(PD): A leader is someone who can manage people, solve problems and take the team to great heights. To be a successful leader, one must be optimistic, principled, reflective, unique, have a “never give up” approach, stay focused on future goals with definite timelines and be open minded. He or she should know the strengths and weaknesses of the team and should be able to guide the team towards the goal and motivate them along the way. He or she should see and accept failures as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Can we teach people to become better leaders?
(PD): Some may be blessed with great leadership skills, however, I believe that leadership skills can be developed by anyone with a big dream inside him. He who takes action every day to achieve that dream will soon find his own unique style of leadership. Yes leadership can be taught to anyone who realizes his true self but that desire should come from within. All great leaders have been internally motivated so the fire has to come from within to succeed.
How important is team work in achieving success? The secret to building a strong and efficient team?
(PD): I have always believed in the adage, “You are only as good as your team”. For me building a strong and efficient team and inculcating a healthy team spirit in that team is of utmost importance. I am nothing without my team and today if I have reached a certain level in my professional career, I owe it completely to the team members. The team includes my parents, my wife, children, relatives including in-laws, friends and colleagues. Not only the team members, even my dealers and vendors are as important as anyone who is working right along with me. It has always been my endeavor to keep them motivated and extend all possible support for the completion of the task.
The secret to building a strong and efficient team lies in knowing each and every member of the team along with their strengths and weaknesses. If I can cite from the film “Lagaan”, the protagonist Bhuvan, knew the strengths and weaknesses of each of his team members, so much so that he turned their weakness into the team’s strength. Be it sports or any other domain of life, the first prerequisite for building a strong team is to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team members in order to extract a meaningful contribution from them. To make a successful team motivation, discipline and goal orientation has to co-exist.
What are the most important day to day habits that help you get the maximum out of the day?
(PD): Meditation and gratitude to God, even for few minutes, for what you have is the secret to get more out of everyday. Your output depends upon how happy you are with whatever you are doing . Happiness depends on the state of mind. Winning over the mind is the key. Whatever you focus on increases. So if you focus on what you have, you get more of it and if you focus on what you do not have it also increases. The choice is yours. The second secret of effective time management is to plan better.
The motivation secrets of a leader-how do you inspire and sustain motivation?
(PD): It may seem like a subtle distinction, but the worlds of motivation and inspiration are miles apart. Motivation is about psyching yourself up while the word inspiration comes from a completely different place. The word inspiration means to be in spirit. So, motivation is about things that you think you should do or that you’re supposed to do while Inspiration is about being called to act because you’re inspired.
I am someone who believes in inspiring my team because motivation could be a task based, time bound thing while if you have an inspired team, nothing can hold them back from achieving their objective. So being inspired isn’t about doing something external to bring something in. It is about aligning the strategic organizational goal with the personal goals of the team members. If that is done well, you would never need to motivate anyone.
Sometimes a simple acknowledgement of an achievement serves as great motivation. I keep close contact with each employee including their family. I make them feel wanted , feel cared for.
The secret to handling failure effectively?
(PD): When the going gets tough then it is only teamwork which can save the day. Brain storming and preparing action plans and implementing the same with the team is the best way to fight a challenging situation. The biggest lesson which I have learnt, as a leader is that when the wind is blowing against you that is the time to focus on your strengths to find solutions and keep on checking the mistakes that need to be avoided based on your weaknesses. Learning from your mistakes and ensuring that the same are not repeated again is something which will always hold you in a good stead. Above all, It is also important that during the course of failures, one should not forget to celebrate even the smallest win or hope with the team.
How do you prioritize work and life?
(PD): Work is important and is always no. 1 priority for me but to enjoy every moment with the family is the key. I try to ensure that everyone who is working at Polaris strikes a balance between work and family. In a bid to keep the work environment tension and stress free, I have strictly prohibited late working hours in my organization. Free time is always a luxury in my job, but whatever time I get after work schedule, I prefer spending it with my family. Activities such as singing, spiritual reading and astrology are some of the other things that keep me busy when I am away from work. I also make it a point to enjoy at least 2 breaks with the family every year out of the city.
Leaders you admire?
(PD): In the political field I admired Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, and Atal Bihari Bajpai, I also admire our current PM, Mr Narendra Modi and Barrack Obama. In the corporate world I admire Narayana Murthy He has been one of the biggest wealth creators of our time and a herald of the IT revolution in India. Infosys- which he created from scratch -is not only an awe inspiring entity but also a great value creator. The best part is even after reaching the top echelon of the corporate world, he kept his middle class values intact.
However, my biggest inspiration, learnings and the source of my transformation has been from the timeless mahayogi, Devraha Baba (www.babadevraha.com), and I was fortunate to get his blessings in person.
Your views on the leadership skills of the next generation of leaders?
(PD): The traits of leadership broadly remains the same whichever generation we talk about. However the skill sets do change based on resource available. Current leaders need to be digital friendly and more accountable.
Best advice you can give to the future leaders?
(PD): We are witnessing a surge in the number of startups which are coming up. It is always good to see the young and ambitious lot taking up big challenges at such an early stage of their life. I want to extend my best wishes to them. My only advice to these budding future leaders would be to believe in your idea even when no one else does. Also have big dreams as whatever you dream and act upon will become a reality. Never give up on your dreams. You will get criticism but take it positively and use it to make your plan even stronger to achieve your dream. Do not get stuck in the past, even God cannot change it. Focus on your dream with a clear time line to achieve it. Thoughts (dream), Words (what you speak) and Actions (to fulfill the dream) is the key. Period.