Indian CEOs in top global firms: Diversities of largest democracy help in building leadership qualities

Personality is the sum total of all the characteristics which marks out one as an individual and these characteristics are indeed evolved through Indian sociological set up

Surjith Karthikeyan and Rajesh C November 11, 2022 15:30:50 IST
Indian CEOs in top global firms: Diversities of largest democracy help in building leadership qualities

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. AFP File

Globally Indians are known for their talent and are pioneers in leading the top most companies and business in the World. Sunder Pichai (Alphabet), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Parag Agrawal (formerly in Twitter), Leena Nair (Chanel), Shantanu Narayen (Adobe Inc), Arvind Krishna (IBM), Sanjay Mehrotra (Micron Technology), Nikesh Arora (Palo Alto Networks), Jayashree Ullal (Arista Networks), Amrapali Gan (Only Fans), Ajaypal Singh Banga (Mastercard), Indra Nooyi (Pepsico) is few among the leading ones and many more deserves to be listed.

Most of these personalities have spent their schooling and graduation in India and then moved to best universities across the World. The reasons which make them equipped for this position is basically their exposure in India encompassing factors which include inter alia cultural and traditional diversity, democracy, multiplicity of languages & religions, emphasis on mathematics & yoga, and Indian philosophy-Atithi Devo Bhava etc. These qualities have a major role in equipping one for a leadership position.

Leadership qualities

This necessitates one to define the qualities of a good leader. A leader always looks ahead, deals with uncertainties and frames the issue correctly, thereby communicating his/her vision and motivating people.

A leader’s potential is tested during crisis management where he/she needs to engender confidence, demonstrate responsibility, accountability and thereby authority, managing successful work relationships in the organisation.

Leaders act, plunge themselves into new projects and activities, interact with various different kinds of people, and experiment with new ways of getting things done. Leadership growth usually involves a shift from having good ideas to pitching them to diverse stakeholders. A leader conveys openness to new ideas and willingness to accept different views, listen attentively and explain the rationale behind his/her decision.

Job environment in India

The job environment in India is characterised by multiple challenges and demands due to India’s democratic set up, with diverse population. Most of the population in India prefers government job, positions in banks, multinational companies etc; which is indeed a difficult task mainly due to comparatively high level of competition.

To get accustomed to the job is also a challenge as it is characterised by positions at various levels viz; direct recruits, generalists, specialists, lateral entrants, promoted officers. Also, this involves most difficult exams coupled with rigorous selection process laid down by various selection bodies.

Moreover, each and every work performed are proposed to be transparent and answerable to the public which demands display of utmost integrity and honesty, solving problem and analysing skills with personal experience and observation.

This criterion gets ingrained in the minds of students at primary and secondary schooling and serves as the base line for national and state school curriculum with its syllabus designed to suit the same.

Compassion and cooperativeness

Two leadership traits/characteristics which is most desirable for a leader is Compassion and Cooperativeness which gets automatically ingrained in an individual born in Indian society. The leaders need to be highly engaged, understanding and addressing the factors that make more attention.

The leadership should have the compassion and cooperativeness to work with the public, doing away with their concerns, devising out of the box solutions to their problems.

In order to make the policies public friendly and successful in a globalised internet era, the CEO of the organisation needs to exhibit cooperativeness and compassion in their work environment as also to the public.

Research suggests that trait desirability is an important predictor of organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. Individuals want leaders who are trustworthy and intelligent.

In addition, they desire interpersonal traits more in low-level leaders than in high-level leaders and dominant traits more in high level leaders than in low-level leaders.

Cooperativeness and compassion are more of interpersonal traits than dominant traits but the same assumes relevance even for high level leaders considering the present globalised internet media era.

Indians are upfront as far as cooperativeness and compassion is concerned as they are well known for their unity in spite of its vast diversities.

Extraverted personality

Another quality of a leader is extraverted personality which indeed commands the attention: being outgoing, assertive, bold, talkative, dominant and best networking skills. This provides the advantages of providing a clear authority structure and direction in leading the organisation.

The networking skills play an important role in leading an organisation which broadens one’s perspective and getting innovative ideas from similar organisations to derive solutions for complex problems.

Indians are well ahead in this regard as there are lots of social organisations, non-government organisations, political parties, interest and religious groups operational in India which tames young generation in this front.

Analytical nature

Another distinguishing aspect is the analytical, foresightedness and data driven nature of Indians which makes them sound in mathematics. Studies in several countries such as Sweden reveals that Indian students have the best technical and analytical abilities and they top most of the foreign courses.

Foresightedness may be due to the nature of Indian society characterised by concern for others in the sociological set up. The concern for brotherhood and fraternity adds to the same. Studies reveal that in examinations such as GMAT, Indians score higher than the global average in quantitative components.

Mathematics had its origin in India nearly 4000 years back wherein various mathematical techniques from trigonometry to decimal system were all evolved by ancient Indian mathematicians.

Lastly, the key aspect which distinguishes Indians from others is the ‘personality’. Personality is the sum total of all the characteristics which marks out one as an individual and these characteristics are indeed evolved through Indian sociological set up.

Surjith Karthikeyan serves as Civil Servant at Indian Ministry of Finance and Rajesh C is an Indian PSU employee. Views are personal. 

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