The Tata Group has had an illustrious tradition, over a century old, of respect and peaceful transition, and a record of its successor chairman taking over with humility, and yet, building a greater legacy than the predecessor. It was synonymous with trust and respectability. But things changed overnight with the ouster of former chairman Cyrus Mistry. It was a shock for the entire nation when a resolution was approved to remove him from the position.
For a long time, software biggie Infosys has prided on being a next-generation enterprise with similar high values DNA. Something is amiss, something rotten – while co-founder and mentor
N Narayana Murthy has a few questions for outsider – CEO Vishal Sikka. Earlier, Flipkart’s founder chief executive officer Sachin Bansal was removed because of his alleged underperformance and co-founder Binny Bansal took over.
Lesson number one: When you reach the top post – don’t forget that even number ones have someone higher, be it the management, board, investors, or life. Don’t take them for granted, keep them pleased, let communications be proactive and continuous, and keep asking for advice; because whatever they can do, or not, they who hired you can fire you.
Just when I thought my column could be titled, ‘Lessons Sachin Bansal, Cyrus Mistry and Vishal Sikka can learn from O Panneerselvam’, he got fired too. And how.
Lesson number two: Change is a good thing, but a drastic U-turn in personality after acquiring a post at the top for a third time in a row on a temporary basis is disastrous. OPS left the very quality which helped him rise once he perched on the Chief Minister’s post. In
all fairness, OPS did resign; a facesaver.
Lesson number three: If you think things have reached a flashpoint when they are anyway going to fire you, resign and make it look nice. Case in point – Captain Cool, the ever gracious Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
When he resigned, first as both captain and player in test matches, and subsequently as captain in the shorter versions, while continuing as player, it was met with shock and respect. He forgot the IPL check box, and the Pune team did the honours and fired him as captain.As perhaps did some top television journalists who are working towards setting up their own independent media entities.
Lesson next: Have a plan B ready for a day when you may have to go. Final lesson after you have lost the great peak position you have worked all your life to reach in a jiffy: enjoy the break. Plot a comeback. The world’s watching.
TAILPIECE: On the one hand, it is better to get to the top and lose it than never to have reached the top at all. On the other hand, voluntarily ending our stay where we will soon be unwanted by anticipating what lies ahead is a great art that few people can master.
(Sriram Karri is author of the bestselling novel, Autobiography of a Mad Nation. He writes for international media such as The New York Times and BBC besides organising debates at Hyd Park)