Leadership innovation – The beginning and the end of history

Wow, what an amazing Valentine’s weekend! Thankfully “The Consortium of Red-faced, Jobless and Retrograde Men of India” ( male counter to the Facebook group “The Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women”) was kept in check to allow India’s youth to celebrate Valentine’s day.

Vikram Kirloskar launching the new TOYOTA INNOVA
Vikram Kirloskar (left) – Launch of the new TOYOTA INNOVA.

But that aside, I had a blast. My friend Vikram Kirloskar, Vice Chairman of Toyota Kirloskar Motors, invited us to the most memorable evening with Jagjit Singh, the Ghazal Maestro. His satin voice had everybody spellbound for a riveting two hours. In Vikram San’s words – “It is Toyota India’s heartfelt gesture of gratitude to our customer ‘family'”. The event was fraught with simplicity and genuine warmth. I wish some people would take lessons from Toyota and especially from Vikram on humility and the natural way to live and work.

In concert with Jagjit Singh
In concert with Jagjit Singh

 How business can ‘flow along’ with such warmth. And to top it, to be immersed in such soul-stirring music. What more could I have asked for. My take away was that the “Toyota way” goes far beyond shopfloor efficiencies and product quality. It is a statement of life and living.

Then came Spiritual Sunday at the Chinmaya Mission precincts on Lodhi Road in New Delhi. Before you start imagining yoga mats and a saffron-robed Godman, I must tell you that the event had to do with the launching of Anil Sachdev’s SOIL – School of Inspired Leadership.

Anil Sachdev doing what he does best.

Although I arrived after the speeches had started and had to leave just as Anil was finishing his ‘storytelling’ session, the impact was astounding. Old-fashioned and long forgotten values such as selflessness in leadership, courage against corruption, picking a cause larger than oneself, paying attention to inner calling, workplaces that create lasting bonds, … wafted through the auditorium with quite the same soul-stirring effect that Jagjit Singh’s renditions had had on me the previous evening. It was as though I had been targetted by grace and I was being given the same messages through different mediums.

arun-mairaBefore I forget, Arun Maira’s was another noteworthy leadership talk. I’ve heard him on a couple of other occasions and have also read his columns. There’s a consistent message he delivers and mostly says it exactly the same way every time. Is this rote? I doubt it. It is simply such a strong belief and so deep a conviction that the words come out exactly the same way time after time. His essence on leadership is:

“Pick something you care deeply about. Take the first steps. Others will follow. Gandhi had neither the power of wealth (money) nor the stick (fear) nor the position (conferred authority). Somehow we have come to believe that at least one of these is a prerequiste. Yet people followed him and his identified causes.”

I didn’t find it one bit strange that Anil echoed this philosophy as well. 

“When you pick a cause that is larger than yourself, many things come together on their own to help you make it happen. You have to find the purpose of your life. Is it money? Is it fame? Or are you here to serve the planet? The only purpose of a workplace is to allow people to discover themselves and their potential.”

As the saying goes – every beginning is an end. I feel blessed to have been within striking distance of giants last weekend – each a powerful leader in his own right and sphere. All with impeccable credentials established over years of toil. Their greatness is less for the effort they’ve put in or the accomplishments on their resumes; more enduring is the steadfast belief in simple values of life. Humility and simplicity foremost.

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4 Replies to “Leadership innovation – The beginning and the end of history”

  1. Thanks for commenting on this Saul! I wasn’t expecting you to read the post at the speed of light :-). Truly appreciate it!

    SOIL is quite a unique initiative. Many of the things I’ve heard you say or write are uncannily close to Anil’s perspective. Passion definitely!


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