Introduction It is not without reason that the common man looks for role models among the top business leaders. He or she is often frustrated with the attitude of many industrialists who play around with public money and do not repay the banks. The image of the notorious Vijay Mallaya comes to the mind of millions.
Yet, on the opposite side of the spectrum, we do have at least a dozen business leaders who are fabulous role models. Their chemistry of success can be attributed to;- a) Their impeachable integrity b) To look at the larger society's good in everything they did c) Always take care of their employees well d) Contribute generously to philanthropy and e) Advise the youth on the right lines.
Their impeachable integrity Mr. Azim Premjo of WIPRO is known for his impeachable integrity. Corruption is never allowed in the organization. It is a well-known fact that the organization would never pay a single pie as a bribe to any Government official. A trade union leader, in Mumbai, was found guilty of misuse of funds. The amount involved was not much. That leader was immediately sacked. The trade union members went on a strike to reinstate their leader. Mr. Azim Premji would not budge an inch He said that he would rather close down the entire office, but not reinstate that corrupt leader. The employees had to give in.
Alongside Mr. Narayanamurthy, the founder of Infosys Technologies, it is a well-known fact Mr. Premji also travels only by ordinary second class. Both leaders have voiced their opinion about issues that directly or indirectly concern the poor. In fact, when the then UPA Government sought to increase the rate of income-tax for the rich, Mr. Premji stood firm; he said that there was nothing wrong in expecting capitalists to pay more income tax. His colleagues in the industry did not approve of his views; he stood firm, though.
Mr. Narayamurthy has voiced concern that the wage difference between the Top Management and the lower levels of employees should not be so high. His record of work at Infosys Technologies was something that legends are made of. He would be the first person to enter the office. And he would be the last to leave the office too. He went on record that his moral authority can be fine only if he came to office earlier than his lady's private secretary. Others of his ilk include Mr. Ratan Tata of the Tatas, Mr. N. Chandrasekaran, now CEO of Tata Sons, Mr. Vaghul, the former CEO of ICICI Bank, Mr. A.M. Naik of the L&T, and a few other leaders.
To look at the larger society's good in everything they did The late Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance Industries, was well known for his business acumen. However, he was never known for his personal integrity. He often said that the ends justified the means. His company rewarded his shareholders very well. However, to this day, the late Mr. Ambaini, and his two sons, Mr. Mukesh Ambani and the notorious Mr. Anil Ambani, have never ever bothered to cater to the wider society. To a limited extent, Reliance Industries is indeed doing some Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work, but his pales into insignificance when compared to what the Tatas have done. The Tatas have always worked so actively for the wider good of the society, irrespective of the persons involved.
Evidence of this was widely seen, when Mr. Ratan Tata, visited the homes of each of the eighty families that lost some family member in the infamous Mumbai blast some years ago. Apart from a generous compensation package, Mr. Ratan Tata also offered the surviving family members greater solace by extending to them free medical facilities in any of the Tata hospitals for a lifetime. The record of service of Infosys Technologies and WIPRO has been documented and is available in business history records, particularly those concerning Corporate Social Responsibility work. It is essential that business leaders voice their concerns and openly support public causes. They need to openly speak about injustice. A few months ago, Mr. Rahul Bajaj, another highly celebrated leader went on record in a public meeting to openly challenge the present ruling dispensation in New Delhi. His anger was directed at what he called the Police raj. He voiced his concern that dissent was increasingly not welcome in society.
Always take care of their employees well At Sundram Fasteners, a good company of the TVS group that always makes profits, there is no limit on medical expenses for the employees. Mr. Suresh Krishna is on record of saying that if he were ready to spend crores on machinery and technology, there was nothing wrong with spending on the health of his employees. This group has had generous employee benefits packages.
In fact, there are thousands of employees who park a major portion of their retirement savings in fixed deposits with the TVS NBFC company called Sundaram Finance. This is one company that never disappoints any investor in its fixed deposit schemes. The interest that is applicable would reach the bank account of the employee, right on the last day of the previous month; if it were a holiday, on the previous day itself. The Tatas also take care of their employees very well.
Contribute generously to philanthropy Mr. Azim Premji and Mr. Narayanamurthy, alongside Ratan Tata, have generously donated to philanthropy and do that rather silently. Mr. Naik of L&T also makes significant contributions but does so rather silently.
Leaders such as Mr. Venu Srinivasan of the TVS group are well known to have made personal contributions from their own funds towards noble causes. In particular, his contribution to making a big difference to lakhs of people through a trust run by his company, TVS Motors, is well known in Chennai circles. Similarly, each of the aforesaid leaders is well known for supporting poor children in their educational goals. Mr.Anand Mahindra is also known for his personal contribution to philanthropy.
It should be noted that these leaders do not just give away money. They actively support causes like the self-help groups, and those organizations feeding the old and the sick. Nothing is given away just like that.
Advise the youth on the right lines Mr. Ratan Tata's views on personal integrity and honesty are well known. His speeches and his writings have impressed millions of youth. Similarly, Mr. Narayamurthy, who leads a simple upper-middle-class life in Bangalore, sends the right messages. His views on most topics have a lot of messages for the youth and for integrity and honesty in public life.
The leaders have not merely stopped running world-class organizations. Through organizations such as the Center for Indian Industry, (CII), they have reached the youth of India, through numerous Seminars, Conferences, Workshops, and what have you. These leaders always walk the talk and hence are known for their views that concern every aspect of life and positive motivation of all youth, at any point in time. For example, in most HR conferences, the names of each of the aforesaid leaders would be repeated with monotonous regularity by most speakers, who would generously draw references to some speech or writing of these leaders on the role of modern organizations, the role of companies in doing CSR work and so on. Since Mr. Azim Premji has really contributed hundreds of his personal money for highly notable purposes, whatever he had said at any point in time, would become the most interesting messages for the youth. Such is the magic power of such leaders.
Conclusion We really do not find a good number of business leaders with impeachable integrity. Those that stand out, have too many good qualities to make a big difference. The chemistry of their success is so easy to understand and appreciate. Certain details have been discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs. It is hoped that when their records get discussed, again and again, the spin-offs in terms of better results would keep flowing in at any point in time.
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The author explained the important points which made some business people succeed in their business. I know a small business person who was making ayurvedic medicines and selling them all over South India. He employed around a hundred people and all of them were paid as per the government norms. But the needs of all the people used to be taken care of by him. He used to donate money to the employees to help them in paying money for their children's education. He used to help them to perform marriages of their children and used to donate for construction of their own houses. These people used to dedicate themselves to the organisation that today it is a leading ayurvedic formulation making company with more than 90 years of history. He received that establishment from his father with a few thousand rupees worth businesses and he handed over the same to his son as a limited company making some crores of turnover.
Another important point to be noted is he was always the first to pay tax as required and never deceived government by showing wrong accounts.