Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Making of the Book "Managers who Make a Difference"

Managers who Make a Difference

T. V. Rao

(Blog on my Book as a part of IIMA Book Series Published by Random House: www.iimabooks.com)

I am very happy to know that this book is being received well and got to be known among the top best sellers in the last four months. I m particularly happy that a few organizations have begun to give copies of this and the other books of IIMA Book series to all their Executives. I have written many books and perhaps this is the first time one of my books has received this attention though some of my books got ESCORTS and DMA awards.

When I was first approached by Professor Jayanth Varma the former Dean IIMA in December 2009 requesting me to be part of the series I asked him why not one of the full time professors of IIMA rather than me to write. He said both he and Professor Barua Director IIMA needed someone who is experienced in writing and who can complete it on time as the series are to be launched for the Golden Jubilee Year. I readily agreed as I considered this as a great opportunity to share my experience of working with managers. Once agreed I have thought through many alternatives and even sent some of them to Jayanth. I wrote to him that I had a dream project for the last ten years to write on “What they teach and don’t teach at IIMA", and already collected a lot of material four years ago and kept in cold storage. I thought that this will be a popular book covering in simple terms concepts and also culture and learning methods etc. at IIMA. The book would start with case studies of prominent alumni of IIMA. Alternately a new book on “Leadership and Interpersonal competence”. We had a series of exchanges and he wanted the book to be for use by people who may not have had the opportunity to go through a formal management Education program and at the same time outlining some of the things we teach with as less jargon’s as possible. It is at this point as I started thinking I felt that are managers and managers. All of them do what they are told to do. There is no point doing what you are told to do. But that who do things on their own or do things differently is the kind of manager we need.

I started collecting many case studies. From our own 360 Degree feedback profiles available at TVRLS we have over 8000 managers and some of them have done very interesting work and done many good things after the 360 Feedback. Many of them may not be known. However when someone reads about managers who made a difference it cannot be about people whom most people do not know. Some of them must be people who are already known and made a mark. Hence I decided to collect case studies of people who have been noticed and made a difference as well as those who are less noticed and still made a difference. In fact I recruited an RA (Ritika) to help me collect case studies. She worked for about three months and collected about 20 cases from various sources. Charu Sharma who joined TVRLS around this time summarised a few cases from other books. Unfortunately I could not use most of what has been collected due to the limitations of the size.

It is at this point of time I started thinking of a classification of managers in some way to provoke them to assess where they stand and move forward. As I thought through various people whom I know and those whom I read about like Dr. Kurien, Kiran Bedi, N. Vittal, Dr. Krishna Murthy, Sam Pitroda, Narayana Murthy, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Anu Aga etc. my colleague at IIMA like Anil Gupta, Samuel Paul, Ravi Matthai, Udai Pareek , our IIMA Alumni like Harsha Bhogle, Vijay Mahajan, Sanjiv Bhikchandani, Shantanu Prakash, Bhaskar Bhat, etc. it dawned on me that they can be classified into three distinct categories: Achievers, Visionaries and Missionaries. However the visionaries and missionaries cannot achieve beyond a point all by themselves. They need hard working loyal and committed followers. I preferred the term “Doers” than followers. The term “Doer” symbolises a good degree of respect and hard work. Then what followed is simple: the classification of four types of managers: Doers, Achievers, Visionaries and Missionaries. There is t a fifth category of people I call as “Shirkers” - those who shirk their responsibility and don’t do anything even if they are told to do. They are master escapers, time wasters and life wasters. They waste the God given precious life and their time as well as talent. I have not dealt with them in this book. Perhaps I need to understand them more to help them to move from their current state. I decided to focus only on the four valuable categories of managers. Doers also make a difference as if they don’t do what they are expected to do the visionaries and missionaries will not be able to do what they intend to do. Thus I have conceptualised the four categories of managers and as I started looking at all the cases I know they seem to fall in place. Anirban suggested that Achievers should be termed as “Thrusters”.

I thought that one of the purposes of the book should be to get insights about the qualities of managers that make a difference and then gain insights into themselves on where they stand. The various tools we have developed at TVRLS came handy. In fact I have used most of the 360 Degree Feedback and other psychometric tools we have been using at TVRLS in the last ten years. I was pleasantly surprised to see the web site on the books www.iimabooks.com reproducing some of the tools with a scoring key. I am happy that Random house has put up these tools for use by any reader.

The publishers wanted me to send my first chapter to see the pattern. I sent the first chapter and Anirbhan Sharma promptly sent his feedback along with suggestions on the case studies to be included. I slept over the feedback for almost a month as the suggestions. It is only when I sent the second chapter Anirbhan said that the best way is to work together for editing purposes. Then the book started moving. Finally Anirban came to IIMA and stayed for a week during which time most of the writing happened. Most of the material was ready and I wanted to get his editorial inputs. That is how I almost completed 60% of the work when he was here in May- June, 2010. Within the next two months I completed twelve chapters but we decided to limit this to ten chapters to limit the size of the book. By that time Anirban left and Chiki from random House took charge of the project. She had to get the editing done all over again to maintain consistency. I must say she worked hard to get the re-editing completed within a few weeks. I was happy to know that Chiki worked in making of the book “don’t lose your mind, lose your weight’ by Rujita Diwekar with a Foreword by Karina Kapoor. She described to me the way she had worked on that book and got the author to put her experiences and thoughts as they occurred. I was so delighted to Chiki who was described by Rujita as a “workaholic editor”. Chiki was fast and I was motivated once again to work with a person with such a high speed. Many case studies had to be shortened. I have used at least illustrations of over 20 managers who made a difference.

Here are few extracts from my book:

What is a manager?

... the world has changed radically in the last couple of decades. Communication and connectivity has increased, cities have grown, and we have been buffeted by immense social forces. Here are just some of the changes that have occurred that impact our place of work today:

• People’s preferences have come to sharper focus.

• Consumerism and commercialization has increased

• Economic activity has gone up creating more employment and accessibility

• Education levels are going up

• Talented people are more scarce.

• Sometimes negotiability of people has changed than the past as people’s preferences have become stronger.

• Concerns about health and well being have increased

• People have become more conscious of their rights, costs, and benefits

• Choices have increased

• Relationships have become more complex. Divorces have gone up and new phenomenon like same-sex marriages, live-in relationships, cross-cultural marriages have come into existence.

• Modern organizations have become flat and yet some continue to be hierarchical.

• Ethical issues have come under focus.

The definition of a manger has to change with these changing times. Today a manager is defined as someone who makes things happen. The implication is that a manager’s job is to set new goals, new standards, recruit new people, mobilise new resources, review the methods of doing things and set and reset new technologies etc. The thrust is more on the dynamic process here. The manger is a dynamic entity and not merely an achiever of goals set by someone else. Rather than merely carrying out what others have set to carry out, the modern managers may even be required to set new goals, define vision, chart out a course of action.

Types of managers

From my work and interactions with managers I classify them into four categories.

1. Doers : These are managers who get things done. Though they are not extraordinary, they are necessary in the work place. They do a lot of routine jobs. They take life as it comes. They may not have ambitions but work hard enough to sustain their jobs and progress at normal rate in the organization. Without them the company may not be able to run. However if they leave, another manager will fill in their job.

2. Achievers: These are managers who do more than what they are required to. Many of them are outstanding. Achievers are smart managers and they work hard and get things done fast. They are noticed in the corporation and considered as assets. They have career ambitions but do not have a mission or purpose in life other than the career. They are willing to move to any company that pays them a higher salary or uses their competencies better. They are career managers. If luck favours them they may become CEOs at a relatively young age.

3. Visionaries or entrepreneurs: Visionaries are leaders. They are restless, think big, are creative and possesss vision, ideas and long-term goals. They want to make an impact on the organization and build it and are largely driven by creation of wealth for themselves and others around them. They thus make a lasting mark on society. Visionaries may be in any field, government, social service, industry, trade, commerce. They are often entrepreneurs and empire builders and personal wealth is often their distinguishing factor. Deepak Parikh, Kumar Birla, Narayana Murthy, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Venu Srinivasan, Anil Khnadelwal, Shiv Nadar, Azim Premji, Sunil Mittal, Vijay Mallya, A. M. Naik, Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, and many IIM grduates like Sharat Babu all fall under this group.

4. Missionaries: The fourth type of manager is mission driven. It is the nature of goals they set for themselves that put them at a higher level. Their goals are not personal but more social and community related. They are mission driven than goal driven. There is an element of sacrifice involved in what they do. Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Dr Kurien, Abdul Kalam, Ila Bhatt, Kiran Bedi, Vikram Sarabhai are all examples of missionaries. Managers in type 3 may also qualify to be in this category the moment they are single-mindedly focus on social objective rather than empire building. Narayana Murthy is an example of this. As managers our goal might usually stop at type 3 – after all the visionary is the archetypical manager and not all of us want to change society as well. However we all have missionary elements in our nature, and it is important we acknowledge it as the ultimate kind of manager.

The qualities of a good manager

Imagine the four levels of managers to be four rungs of a ladder. Your aim is to climb up the levels as high as you can. One of the objectives of this book is help those in type 1 to move to 2 , those in type 2 to 3 and those in type 3 to move to 4.

The book is based on two beliefs. Firstly that the better a manager you are, the bigger your vision is and the more value-led you are. While I will focus on the core skills you will need to be an effective manager, I will constantly point to the highest level which all managers should aspire to. Secondly that the mangers that make a difference exhibit certain qualities that can be emulated and developed. Their thought processes, outlook, values and motives can all be acquired. Managers are not born, they can be made and each one of us has the capacity to extend ourselves. As a result I have laid an emphasis on HR tools such as PRD and 360 degree feedback which help individuals improve through self examination.

A summary of the qualities ( implicit in our discussion of the four types) every manager must possess to varying degree are:

1. Knowing and performing effectively various roles and activities (versatility)

2. High sense of efficacy or self image

3. The ability to recognise that success or failure comes from their actions through hard work and perseverance (internality)

4. Value driven and highly ethical

5. Good team workers, collaborative by nature. They manage their teams well and help create good managers in turn

6. Engages with their colleagues and is trusted and respected by them ( interpersonal engagement)

7. Strong and credible communicators with good networking skill

8. Good delegators who manage their time and talent and other’s efficiently

9. They are proactive, change oriented and problem solving ( creativity)

10. Motivated by a powerful combination of motives that make them exhibit appropriate Leadership styles and skills

Of these qualities, three are deeply ingrained traits which colour all the dealings of an individual: self efficacy, internality and values. The next four are the fundamental skills every manager requires, although as we’ll show these differ from level to level: team building, their interpersonal engagement, time and talent management and communication. The last two qualities are really the benchmark of type 3 and 4: this is their leadership ability and their creativity.

In this book we will go through each of these qualities chapter by chapter providing case studies, exercises and tests where possible. It is my hope that at the end of it you will become a better manager and aspire one day to change the world around you.

I thank IIMA, Random House and my colleagues at TVRLS for all their support and most of all I thank all the managers who made a difference and gave us an opportunity to study and learn about them.


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