LEADERS OF TOMORROW
Dr. Pritam Singh
Director, IIM, Lucknow
on the ocassion of
Sixteenth Annual Convocation
Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow
3rd March, 2002
Hon'ble Chief Guest, Mr. B.P. Singh, Executive Director at the World Bank. Chairman, Shri Hari Shankar Singhania, Members of the IIML Society and Board of Governors, Parents of the Graduating Students, Distinguished Invitees, Media Personalities, Faculty Colleagues, Officers, Staff Members, Graduating Students, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I take this opportunity to extend you all a warm welcome to this 16th Annual Convocation of the Institute. One hundred and sixty nine students are graduating today. All my colleagues, and I extend our heartiest congratulations and best wishes to all the graduating students on their successful completion of the Post Graduate Programme in Management of this Institute.
It is indeed a great honour for all of us to have in our midst, Mr. B.P. Singh, a distinguished scholar and an administrator of eminence. Mr. Singh obtained his Masters Degrees from Universities of Patna and Oxford. After holding a Lecturership in Political Science at Patna University, he was appointed in 1964 to the Indian Administrative Services. He has since been the recipient of several awards and fellowships including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship. During the past four decades, Mr. Singh has held very important positions - Deputy Commissioner, Production Commissioner, at the state level. At the Centre, he was Union Culture Secretary, and Union Home Secretary. Mr. Singh is currently the Executive Director, The World Bank, representing India, Bhutan, Bangaladesh and Sri Lanka. His books and articles have been well received both within and outside India. He has authored four books including "The Problem of Change" and "India's Culture". He is also the Chief Editor of the "Millennium Book on New Delhi". There is lot more to say about Mr. Singh and his contributions but time won't permit me to do that. However, I would definitely like to mention one thing about Mr. Singh and that is that he is known for his landmark contributions in any assignment that he has handled so far.
I, on behalf of the entire IIM Lucknow community, and on my personal behalf, extend to you, a very warm and cordial welcome and hope to have your benign presence on the campus in future also.
We are really very fortunate to have as our Chairman, Shri Hari Shankar Singhania, a highly distinguished industrialist of the country, who despite his very demanding commitments, has always found time to look into all the matters related to the growth of this Institute. Sir, it is a matter of great joy and satisfaction for all of us here at IIML that you have accepted the offer of the Government of India to guide the destiny of this Institute for a further period of 5 years, in the third consecutive term. As a token of our acknowledgement to your contributions, I feel immensely pleased to present to you the findings of the most recently undertaken nation-wide survey, which ranks your school as number one in the country.
We are also happy to welcome the esteemed members of the Board of Governors and IIML Society, who have always provided unstinted help, guidance and support for the development of our Institute.
May I take this opportunity to highlight some of the major activities of the Institute, during the year 2001-2002.
THE INSTITUTE witnessed an all?round growth in all its activities viz. Teaching, Research, Consultancy and Training.
n First batch of students with an increased intake of 240 was admitted to the Post Graduate Programme. With the batch graduating today, the number of graduates of this school almost touches the 1600 mark.
n THE PLACEMENT process this year saw participation of 88 companies (as against 83 last year), placing all the graduating students with choicest jobs. Average salary in rupees was Rs.6.98 lakhs per annum.
n Second batch of students was admitted to the Fellow Programme in Management.
n Faculty strength has grown form 57 last year to 66.
n One hundred and thirty four RESEARCH PAPERS and two books, entitled The A to Z of Management Mantras and Business Librarianship & Information Services, were published this year.
n Faculty members received professional recognition through their nominations as expert members to the Executive and Governing Bodies of several national/international level institutions and professional associations.
n On a request from several national and international level organizations, work on 13 CONSULTANCY assignments was completed.
n Ninety - five MANAGEMENT
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES (as against 70 last year) were conducted. These benefited 1800 executives, as against 1341 last year.
n Under our International Academic Collaboration Programme, 21 of our students visited our partner institutions in France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and Canada and 8 students from these very countries visited us. Similarly, faculty exchanges also took place between us and our partners abroad. As of now, the Institute has collaborative arrangements with 11 institutions in different countries.
n Inaugural issue of our international level journal entitled Metamorphosis: A Journal for Business Leaders has just been released.
n The Institute hosted a three-day Conference for Fulbrighters.
n Strategic Management Forum in association with IIFT, New Delhi, and our Institute, organized a national seminar on "WTO & Allied Issues".
n A two-day retreat on `University Governance', for the Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities, deserves a special mention here.
n Towards an attempt to further foster and nurture academic excellence, organisations like BSES and ONGC came forward to sponsor Chairs.
n Under the ESCOTEL Chair, a `Center for Customer Relationship Management' (CRM), was conceived and launched.
n The Institute's Centre for Leadership and Human Values, recognized by the MHRD of the GOI as an "epi-center" for disseminating value based education in India, formally launched its activities during the year. The Centre organized one International/Executive Development Workshop and one national workshop on `Value Based Leadership'.
n The LIBRARY continued to grow in terms of its resources, facilities, and services. Introduction of Barcode Technology provided a much-needed relief to the users.
n The COMPUTING FACILITIES are made available round the clock. Full-fledged campus wide networking is planned to be made operational soon.
The Institute boasts of a vibrant and active STUDENT BODY, supplementing the programme and enriching campus life with a variety of professional and cultural activities. Several milestone events organized, during the year include the following:
n MANFEST, an annual All India Business School Festival, saw participation of over 150 students from leading business schools of the country.
n MANFEST 2002 was also the occasion to host the largest ever alumni congregation at IIML. More than 50 alumni, a good number from overseas, came down to their alma mater.
n The seventh annual Marketing Information Fair, INDEX'2001, was visited by an all time high record number of 25,000 people.
n Bringing out of the inaugural issue of `MUDRA' and 2002 volume of "L'essenc", by our students is indeed highly appreciable.
n 2001 Version of the IIML WEBSITE, developed in-house by the Student Webteam, was launched on September 4, 2001.
n A Variety of ABHIVYAKTI ENDEAVOURS that include organizing the `Liberty and Society Seminar', Music and Drama Workshops, Missionaries of Charity, deserve special mention.
n Several activities of JIGYASA, like Jasoos, Jagriti were firsts of their kind.
n Several of our students participated in many national and international level seminars and conferences, presented their papers, and won prizes and awards.
n Leaders in Making Award, saw participation of students from top 20 Indian Business Schools.
n Innovision 2002 was organized under the theme "Managing in a Recessionary Economy".
n The INDUSTRY INTERACTION series continued its momentum during the year.
Employee Welfare Committee organized various sports, cultural and other interesting events to enrich the community life at IIML. Prof. Ishwar Dayal, the founder Director of the Institute, was honoured on the occasion of the Institute's 17th Foundation Day.
In this context, I would like to emphasize that all the above achievements were possible owing to unqualified support and cooperation extended by the faculty, the staff, the students and the members of the Board of Governors of the Institute. My special thanks are to all the task heads who put in their best in the best interests of the Institute.
Now, I wish to say a few words to my beloved students.
You are on the threshold of transition from the rigor of academic pursuits to the intensity of business world. The pressures of continuously delivering performance in the world of business will give you opportunities to apply and test what you have so rigorously learnt in the gurukula of IIM Lucknow. On this emotive occasion, when one phase of your life is behind you and you enter a new phase, you must do so with optimism and commitment. I take this occasion to share with you, my dear students, some of my thoughts which may be of value to you.
Who hasn't heard the mantra: Change or Perish? It has already become trite to talk of change. And the mantra has become a cliché. But like many clichés, it is true. The meaning of the mantra is realized only when companies pay heed to it. Those who are slow to acknowledge the power of change are relegated to history. Disruptive changes have demonstrated their power to tear asunder, strong corporations. Is it surprising then, that the average life span of Fortune 500 corporations is almost 40 years - far smaller than the life span of humans? This only reinforces the idea that today's technologies, processes, knowledge of markets and consumers' tastes shall no longer sustain us in the future. Corporations will have to continuously renew themselves, and renew in fundamental ways, to survive. But the issue is not of mere survival, it is also not of being able to adapt to change. The issue is of leading rather than being led by change. Therefore, it will become increasingly important to embed renewal processes deep within the organizations. Organisation or companies are nothing but a collective noun for individuals. Change is intensely personal. For change to occur in any organisation, each individual must think, must feel and do something that is fundamentally different.
My dream is to see each one of you emerge as a creator, a leader and a maker of history. All of us here at IIM Lucknow will feel a sense of pride and joy when news about your endeavours and success reach us from all corners of the world. Move forward, my dear students, and be the shapers of your destiny.
Every era seems to call for an eminently different ability on the part of its business leaders. Different times require different skills. To help you chart out a career path of creation and innovation, I have extracted four professional competencies that you need to possess to succeed as business leaders. Supporting these competencies, I have also identified two traits of personal character that you need to inculcate to sustain yourself in this highly turbulent, chaotic and competitive world.
The first competence is your power of Envisioning, your power to dream and dream big.
With timeless wisdom, Solomon, the seer, once observed: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Vision is nothing more than the capacity to look beyond the immediate into the vast potential of tomorrow. To maximize your potential and make your dreams come true, you will need another important competence called Self Renewal. This is the ability of learning, unlearning and relearning. All of us know that in the knowledge economy the critical resource is no longer capital but knowledge. In such an economy, you will have to pursue continuous learning. It is not enough to do things that you are good at, you need to muster courage to take on newer responsibility in order to remain valuable to organisation and society.
To enhance your ability to continuously learn, you must inculcate what is called in Zen as the BEGINNER'S MIND. Our "original mind" includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; however in the expert's mind there are but only a few.
A beginner's mind has learning agility. It is the lever you will need to facilitate meaningful change. Active learners are constantly devising rules about how things work rather than focusing solely on getting things done. They also pause to reflect. Curious and active learners relentlessly indulge in wide range of pursuits, which prepares them for dealing with the unexpected when they encounter it. They will move easily into areas that are not natural to them. Moreover, active learners are optimistic and persistent. They will try again and again - each time with a slightly different track - no matter how many times they fail. Thomas Edison behaved like a classic active learner during the hundreds of failed attempts that finally led to the invention of the light bulb. So my dear students, you have to be willing to handle a long and challenging track and look un-frowningly on frequent failures. This failure is actually experience. I am reminded of a great story about Sam Walton. Wal-mart's founder was often asked how he had become such a success story in the retail business. He would answer with just two words; "Good Decision." Invariably his questioners would ask how he was able to make those good decisions. He would answer with just one word; "Experience". "How did you get that experience?", the questioners would respond. Walton would smile and say, "Bad Decisions".
Another competence that you must develop is what I have termed as Symbiotic Synthesis. The challenge in a highly disparate world is the ability to make a whole by putting together its parts. Most of us have developed the power of analysis, where we break the whole into parts for closer examination to understand the underlying causational principles. However, few amongst us can synthesize the elements to form the whole. As true leaders, you must inculcate this concept of symbiotic synthesis. It will enable you to think beyond competition to cooperation & collaboration and from win-lose situations, to win-win situations.
In short, the challenge of 21st century corporate world is to become an integrator rather than just an analyst. Remember the statement of Jack Welch, "Build the bridges and destroy the walls."
And the fourth competence that you must develop is that of Managing Ambiguity. When we clearly acknowledge that the structure of markets is in a constant flux, the dynamics of dominant technologies is undefined; when forces defining the tastes and preferences of consumers are ambiguous, it is obvious that what moves we ought to make are hard to assess. You therefore, must develop the skill of tolerating ambiguity, and to act even when the future is ill-defined. The ability to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity is an essential skill which is truly in short supply.
Disruptive change is an opportunity for leaders. You as a leader will have to create possibilities in such contexts. Scan ahead, create excitement, and keep the Dare-Dream-Do attitude alive and burning bright. But remember, dear students that this Dare-Dream-Do spirit has to be supported by two integral traits of character. They are humility and integrity.
Humility, or the quality of genuine modesty and unpretentiousness, is often disregarded while describing traits of good leaders because it seems to suggest a lack of toughness and resolve. However, the humble leader lacks arrogance, not assertiveness. They are polite but firm. The will to serve others must eclipse any drive to promote self. Humility can even carry a certain spiritual tone. The leaders think and act beyond self. They strive for a larger cause, beyond the petty self interests.
Humility is uncommon. The temptation of ego enhancement often entices many young leaders down the road to frustration and compromise. Remember, I want you to learn from mistakes and deal with adversity and ambiguity. To do this you will be required to admit weaknesses and fallibility. This is an act of humility. There is little room for arrogance or cynicism in truly great leadership. Humility must never be viewed as a weakness. The development of leaders takes time, commitment and resolve. Humility creates room for constant improvement.
The other character trait that I mentioned is Integrity. It means having honesty and consistency between one's words and actions. Your behavior and actions will be the key to your credibility. Every small perception of inconsistency will hurt trust. Perfection is not the issue so much as coherence among words, values, and actions. So dear students, remember to adhere firmly to a system of ethics, a set of guiding beliefs and repeatedly test them in the crucible of your life. This implies inner moral compass, constancy, and a living conscience. This inner alarm will set you on a long right and successful path.
So dear students, move ahead and challenge. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. March forward and make India brighter, greater, and safer than ever before.
May God be with you in your endeavours.