Raj Gupta is a veteran HR professional with over two decades of experience in diversified roles and brings a combination of Ops, HR & L&D expertise with exposure to US, UK, Europe, and Indian Multinationals. He has been honored with 100 HR Super Achievers in India by World HRD Congress and Global HR Excellence Exemplary Leader Award at the Asia Pacific HRM Congress for his contribution in HR Arena. Raj has a Bachelor of Education and a postgraduate degree in English literature and has been an award-winning student in MBA (HR) from Institute of Management Technology, India.
It is said that employees don’t leave an organisation because of a bad role, they leave because of a bad manager. But who exactly is a bad manager? And who is a good one? What are the traits that separate a good leader from a bad one? Industry veteran, Mr. Raj Gupta, puts a stop to the good leader vs bad leader debate through this insightful column.
We all have the choice to become either Leader ‘A’ or Leader ‘B’. Leader ‘A’ (as shown in Figure 1 on the next page) goes beyond acceptable limits (both upper and lower), however, Leader ‘B’ remains within acceptable limits regardless of pressure or situation. Let me share a brief example for both Leader ‘A’ & Leader ‘B’ from my experiential learnings.
EXAMPLE OF LEADER ‘A’
“I do not want to see you in this Organisation from Monday”, SHOUTED one of the Senior Leaders on Friday late night during my founding years. I asked, “What happened? Why are you so angry”? He said,” keep your MOUTH SHUT. I do not want to hear any excuse.” Then he banged the door and went out.
Being a junior resource, I was at a loss of insights initially. Upon digging the details, I found that some operating leader complained to him about some data issues and after coming from his office, he just launched. After an hour, I called him and said “I have found the issue and have sorted it out. The mistake was committed by a senior colleague by oversight and I personally have nothing to do with it. He heard me and said, “OK”.
Monday, I met him expecting that he will express regret for his behaviour and asked him, “Do you TRUST me”? He said, “on the trust scale, sometimes I found you 7 and at times 3 or 4”. I said, “TRUST is TRUST, either you trust or you don’t. Anyway, I have LOST my TRUST in you. I love this company. Will you find me another job or should I find one myself”? I did find another job.
EXAMPLE OF LEADER ‘B’
I saw this BOSS of mine wearing a necktie for the very first time with an impeccable suit. He was supposed to make a presentation to C-suite Executives that included his super boss. The presentation was scheduled at 9.30 AM winter morning in the late 1990s.
I reached office at around 9.15 AM and then he asked me to quickly take the OHP print out. (An overhead projector [OHP] is a machine that has a light inside it and makes the writing or pictures on a sheet of plastic appear on a screen or wall.) He then rushed for a meeting.
At 9.30 AM, he called me from reception and asked where the slides were. As it was winter and our computers were not that fast, it took ~ 10 minutes for it to warm up and after 3 slides, the plastic sheet got stuck in the printer. I told him that I have taken the print out only on 3 sheets and he asked me to bring the sheets. I took 3 sheets and gave it to him and he said, “give the rest to MD’s secretary” and I did so.
After the meeting, he came to me and congratulated, “Thank you Raj, thank you so much. It went very well and credit goes to you!”
I said, “sir, it seems there is something wrong with you or you think I am a Politician’s son”. He asked, “what do you mean”. I said, “instead of SHOUTING at me, you are congratulating me?” He asked why should he be shouting at me? I said, “I did not get you the print on time, what if, other prints would not have come out”.
He said, “then it is SHAME on me if I cannot present about my function without PPTs. I have no reason to SHOUT at you as I TRUST you! Do I not know that you come by bus and would have started 30 minutes early. Were you not here till 9 PM despite being unwell yesterday and worked on creating the presentation?” I said, “yes I did start 30 Minutes early but there was much of rush. I could not get into the bus.”
“Now you understand Raj, that I do not have any reason to get angry with you, rather you did the best that you could and hence credit goes to you for making it a success”, he said.
Through these and various others positive or not so positive incidents that I came across during my formative years, I learned a lesson that when I am going to be in a position of authority, in all situations, there are a few things I MUST keep in mind –
- Instead of reacting, reflect and then respond.
- Either you Trust or you don’t.
- As a manager, always remain in control and maintain your EQUANIMITY
- If you make a MISTAKE, accept it and say SORRY – it will only enhance your stature.
- Act on your GUT FEELING fearlessly.
- Know your function well and always be ready to present with or without PPT’s.