How do corporate leaders manage? Where do they draw inspiration from? CNBCTV18.com is publishing a series of interviews titled ‘My Management Mantra’ with experienced leaders who run major companies and oversee a large workforce. This one features Anuj Puri, Chairman, Anarock Property Consultants Private Limited.
What time do you like to be at your desk?
Unless I have client meetings in the morning, I prefer to arrive in the office at least an hour before everyone else. This gives me the time and space I need to set my priorities and get ready for the day ahead.
Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: at business school or on the job? There is another institution which teaches valuable leadership lessons – the School of Hard Knocks. Apart from that, business school may give you an arsenal of leadership words and phrases, but it doesn't give you the courage to use them or even the correct judgment on when and how to use them. Nor is a 'business school dialect' necessarily applicable or appropriate in all business situations in India. One definitely learns more about leadership on the job, but real leadership skills are not always learned by being involved in business situations. They are acquired by observing leaders in action. At Anarock, a degree from a reputed business school is mandatory – but after that, 50 percent of the leadership is fostered, mentored from the ground up. Describe your management style.
I've read somewhere that lobsters lead from behind. I'm not a lobster. More seriously, I would describe my management style as ‘quiet perseverance’. A disconnected, loud and uncompassionate management stance leads to only one thing – an empty office. I never approach a management situation involving others without first putting myself in their shoes and judging for myself how I would like to be treated. It always works.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person or collectively?
Tough decisions should ideally be taken collaboratively, as no single mind can envision every possible solution or outcome. However, there are always some decisions which must be taken alone - and not necessarily by the senior-most person in the office. Team leaders have to learn how to take both collective and solo decisions, depending on what is best suited in a given situation.
Do you want to be liked, feared or respected?
I want to be collaborated with - but not at any cost. Therefore, fear cannot be a factor.
What does your support team look like?
With some notable exceptions, a lot like it looked like 10-15 years ago. I am a firm believer in long-term relationships and have strived not to let go of my most trusted partners. You could say that it looks like a fairly odd assortment of tough, seasoned pros with a calm demeanour interspersed by bright young faces with a spark in their eyes that reflects the fire in their hearts.
A business outside of real estate or a business leader that you draw inspiration from?
Ratan Tata comes readily to mind. His main talent is not in the various and very diverse businesses he has launched, but in a big heart of a true statesman tempered by the fierce intellect of an academic. It is almost impossible for such a man to fail at anything he does.
Which management book has influenced you the most?
I have read many, but few have surpassed the wisdom of
The Arthashastra and Chanakya Sutras which were authored by Chanakya around 300 BC. I was fortunate enough to have attended a series of lectures on these when I was younger, and did a lot of follow-up reading after that. While their original purpose was to guide a ruler in how to manage an empire, they actually cover a lot of ground -- including governance, economic policy, strategy and overall leadership qualities. Do you socialise with your team outside of work?
All the time. This was a source of perennial complaints from my family in earlier years, but today work and leisure seem mingle effortlessly into each other for all of us. I probably don't have much of a work-life balance; there is nothing to balance, because when I'm at work, I'm already among friends. For me, work and leisure are two sides of the same coin because they largely involve the same people. I don't necessarily advocate such an approach to everyone - it must be a function of what work one does, and with whom.
What would your key management advice be?
Don't take yourself too seriously. Take everyone else very seriously.