As the “Fasten Seatbelts” sign goes off in the global economy and CEOs step out of their crisis-control command centers, they must now decide: Should we go back to leading from atop the organizational pyramid — or should we stay in the eye of the storm?
The value zone has shifted to the frontlines, as I pointed out in an earlier post , where employees interact with customers. CEOs can no longer afford to lead from a distance, so they should move to a place that is at the core of those interactions and yet, is quiet. That idea brings to mind the British explorer, Ernest Shackleton , one of the world’s greatest leaders.
As we all know, Shackleton couldn’t get to the South Pole because the ice trapped his ship, Endurance, and crushed it until it sank. However, Shackleton snatched success from the jaws of defeat by leading an 800-mile journey across the ice in sub-zero conditions that brought all his men back to safety.
Throughout the expedition, Shackleton kept his ear close to the ground, led by example, quickly changed his objectives when necessary, and abandoned plans that didn’t seem...
Editor's note: You can follow Vineet Nayar on twitter at @vineetnayar .
I’ve often wondered about the book ‘Nice girls don’t make the corner office’ by Dr Lois P Frankel. The author cautions women that their careers could get sabotaged by “girlish behaviour” learned in childhood, such as working non-stop without a break, worrying about offending others, backing down too easily, explaining too much when asked for information or “polling” friends and colleagues before making a decision…
Just as I get concerned when women are stereotyped in the workplace, I worry when women in turn typecast the work environment and how they must change to succeed in it.
And then I look around at my own organization HCL with a sigh of relief. Looking at all our successful women leaders completely oblivious of such hypotheses as they go about their daily routine, I can quote Bollywood director Raju Hirani’s popular line without hesitation and declare: “All is well.”
Today I would like to profile one such woman leader in our organization. A woman who loves what she does and successfully integrates this passion and her own character into her work. While the narrative...
In my recent webinar with Gary Hamel, we talked about Managing Millennials and the "Employees First, Customers Experiment" we're undertaking at HCL Technologies. (An audio replay of the webinar is available here .) But one hour wasn't enough time to cover it all. There were many unanswered questions from those who attended. I've tried to synthesize the major ones here and provided answers. Please let me know what you think, and let's continue the conversation.
Question: You have said that you wish to “destroy” the office of the CEO and, at the same time, it seems very clear that you, as CEO, have been in instrumental in leading the transformation of your company. Does this suggest that it is now the CEO’s role to lead the company to a new leaderless state? And, if so, then what?
Vineet Nayar: I do believe that the office of the CEO, as we know it, should be destroyed. It should not be seen as the source of all answers, the allocator of all resources, and the creator of all strategies. That is the way the office of the CEO has evolved...
I was delighted to catch up recently with one of my teachers, and found her as passionate about educating children today as she was three decades ago, when I was in school. We had a great conversation, but I must admit to a sense of disquiet as I heard her opinions about the next generation.
Gen Y's desire to learn is lower than that of preceding generations; it doesn't have big dreams or huge aspirations; and the pursuit of instant gratification has compromised its values, she felt. Blaming parents who encourage children to take shortcuts, my teacher argued that this would result in low self-motivation, a lack of integrity, and societal distrust over the next two decades.
This conversation got me thinking. Does Gen Y run the risk, like every other generation, of being undervalued? Does it face the same problems that plagued the Baby Boomers for decades? I tweeted my teacher's opinions about Gen Y and started asking people these questions.
I have a nagging doubt that young people are misunderstood simply because they're very different from my generation. Gen Y's members listen to iPods, text their friends, and chat online even as they chase deadlines....
China has been a fascinating destination for me. I have visited once, and it was a humbling experience to see myself as a small man on the Great Wall.
Now I'm on my way to the World Economic Meeting in Tianjin, the summer Davos as it's called. I'm excited about going there because it's a confluence of academicians, scientists, physicists, people from medicine, people from business, politicians. It is as humbling an experience as being on the Great Wall of China. We work every day in our industries, and we think we're changing the world. But here you meet interesting people who are indeed influencing the world.
This time I'm also excited about the WEF's Young Global Leaders Forum, talking with them and learning what they're thinking, what they are concerned about, and how are they approaching the various problems that we, as a world, face.
As I travel to China, I carry these 10 thoughts to guide my trip. Take a look, and let me know what you'd like to ask of the people I’m meeting in Tianjin. Post your questions here, ping me on www.vineetnayar.com or tweet me...
On weekdays when I am at home, and not travelling, I get up early, get connected to the rest of the organisation through mails and calls, do an hour of yoga, and then drive to the office, arriving there around 10:00 a.m. I usually work until 8:00 p.m. and then head home to my family.
During the day, I try to avoid the traps that are so easy to fall into as a CEO. The most dangerous one is thinking you should know the answers to all questions that arise. This is ridiculous, of course. How can I possibly know the answers to questions that have to do with customers, relationships, technologies, solutions, countries, and offices that I have no direct involvement with?
Impossible. But, for centuries, the world’s organizations have been built on the idea that the CEO knows everything. If he does not know, he should act as if he does. Today, everyone knows the CEO doesn’t know much, but assuming that he should (or hoping that he does) is a very hard habit to break.
I believe that the CEO should be the Chief Question Asker, not the final provider of answers. And so,...