Deepak Singhal, the Chief Strategy Officer of Patanjali, the brand which dared to take on the bigwigs and carve out a niche for itself speaks to B&E about the leadership mantras that keep him ahead in the race.
What are your most powerful leadership techniques?
Deepak Singhal (DS): I strongly believe in involving the team that is going to execute the task right from the planning stage. All strategies should be discussed in consultation with the people who will take the work forward. While planning keep a close eye on the ground realities and decide the course of action accordingly. Finally don’t be afraid to take the first small step, for it is the small steps which go on to make a big difference.
What according to you are the most important qualities of a leader?
(DS): Being original and being different are two traits that create the most impact. Along with that I think being honest and up front helps in making the situation clear to your team and helps them work better.
Can we teach people to become better leaders? (Is it an inborn skill or can it be taught)
(DS): I strongly believe that leaders are made and not born. Leadership is a choice and anybody who is willing and determined can be trained to become a leader. One has to be ready and have the courage to take on responsibilities. To perform well in a structured environment one does need some formal training to groom oneself, but finally leadership is a calling from within.You need to have that spark within you to become a leader.
How important is teamwork in achieving success? The secret to building a strong and efficient team?
(DS): Going alone is a mistake! One needs a good team to succeed.Building a great team is all about knowing the art of managing people, of managing egos. It’s also about connecting with your people emotionally, learning to see things from their point of view. To ensure that the team works efficiently it’s important to make them understand and believe in your vision,to engage them, to make them feel a part of the dream, and to motivate them and charge them up so much that they get up and say “Let’s do it!”
The secret to getting more done in a day as compared to others.
(DS): Watch the watch- everything you do should be time bound. Learn to prioritize things and do the most important ones first. Think and plan well before executing a task. Have full faith and conviction in whatever you do and you will be able to achieve a lot in a day.
The motivation secrets of a leader-how do you inspire and sustain motivation?
(DS): To inspire and motivate you need to be inspired and motivated yourself, which is not always easy. Strategy is an illusion till results start showing and very often that takes a lot of time. So till you achieve your goals it’s a tough fight to make people keep their faith in you and your plans. The journey is long and dark and very often a leader may find it challenging to deal with it but he must keep himself motivated ,keep the fire burning in his belly andkeep believing in the big idea. In order to keep the team motivated break down the big picture into smaller achievable goals, and celebrate the small victories. This keeps the team motivated and they keep moving along with you till together you achieve your dream.
The secret to handling failure effectively?
(DS): There is nothing called failure. You either succeed or you get a new learning. You may fall down but when you get up be more confident,more aware and more sure of yourself than before. Learn from your mistakes and emerge a much stronger and better person. With utmost determination you can make things happen just the way you want them to happen. Believe in your abilities and never give up.
How do you prioritize work and life?
(DS): When you make work an integral part of your life then this question does not arise.I am too engrossed in my work to ever switch off or switch on according to the watch. As a person in charge of strategy I am always thinking always planning the next move, trying to see the unseen, trying to think the unthinkable, charting new courses looking for new avenues. For me work and life cannot be compartmentalized. I work and enjoy my life simultaneously.
Leaders you admire?
(DS): Ratan Tata and Raghuram Rajan
Your views on the leadership skills of the next generation of leaders?
(DS): New age leaders are more strategic in their approach. There is desperation in them to win and make a mark. But they lack deep and clear understanding of the subject and they tend to take short cuts.
Best advice you can give to the future leaders (DS):
* Be original
* Be a good listener
* Past failures should not hold you back from aiming for success today
* Be patient. Take the stairs and not the elevator.
* Invest in yourself
* Lead a healthy lifestyle.