Sunday, June 14, 2009


By Mekhla Sinha, VP(Operations), GHRDC

The New Year has finally arrived and with it a dawn of hope for a better future for our country. In that sense, 26/11 has blown apart a certain way of life, each grenade exploding the innocence of another era. 26-11 incident is very different from Mumbai's original date with terror on March 12th 1993. The Then serial blasts across the city left us dazed and fearful. Now we know that this was no aberration: a combination of callous politicians, bumbling bureaucrats and an emasculated police force have created a feeble and corrupted system that is simply incapable of taking on trained and highly motivated terrorists. The candlelight vigils and sms campaigns may seem ineffectual, but lets not underestimate the power of an enlightened citizenry in the media age. There is a new vote bank out there, a vote bank of furious and articulate people and the emerging youth of India, many of whom are directly responsible for driving the Indian dream forward. It is impossible for any politician to ignore this youth voter and rely on the rural masses alone. 26-11 has ensured that the youth of our country emerge from its cocoon of privilege. The voices being heard at the Gateway of India are a slowly gathering momentum. Over the debris of the Taj, the Indian Youth may finally be coming of age.

The Youth of India have a new and a very important role to play in this scenario. It is time for them to take charge of our country’s destiny in their own hands. This can be achieved through ‘’Dynamic Leadership’’. Be it in the field of politics, bureaucracy, industry, Corporates NGOs, media- whatever field it may be. It is upon the youth of our country to work collaboratively and create the social environment and infrastructure to foster thought leadership and make use of it for the advancement of ‘’Rising India’’. Whilst several western economies have begun to age, we in India have a demographic advantage. From now uptil 2050, we will have the largest number of young working people in the world. Can this resource become an advantage for India ? The Answer is a definite YES.

The next most important question for us to ask ourselves and all the educational institutes is that Can Management Education plays a role in shaping such dynamic individuals who are able to carry forward this responsibility and fulfil the Indian Dream? Can we dream of a safe, economically secure and a vigil country?

Can we dream of an India in Rabindranath Tagore’s words : ‘’ Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free; where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls ‘’.

I believe that Management Education and Management Educators can facilitate in the shaping and building of such dynamic young leaders in a number of ways. The most significant manner is by the way they conceptualise and think about management education itself and the way they prepare their students- through their curriculum, assignments, projects, question papers, methods of evaluation and above all through the insights they bring into the classroom. Also, we must realise, along with management educators that management impacts and applies to every area of life i.e wherever resources are used and therefore it goes well beyond the ‘’ Corporates and Industry’’. As Professor Donald Haider of Kellogg’s Business School says : ‘’ The universe of hospitals and universities, opera and orchestra companies, family service agencies and religious organizations, soup kitchens, environmental advocacies and civil rights oragnizations are all a crucial part of our economic, social and civic life. In a situation like this, it is incomprehensible to see management or management education restricted to corporate or industry alone.

Management Education therefore, represents a unique opportunity in the life of an individual to develop points of view that shape the professional and can potentially shape the type of individual he/ she is. Management Education provides information, ensures a minimum development of understanding and ensures a whole lot of mental gymnastics. But converting that information, refining it to knowledge and then intuition is left entirely to the student as an individual. Such dynamic leadership requires passion, commitment to a cause and the conviction in one’s beliefs. It requires the ability to train oneself to become an outstanding leader- through understanding strengths and honing them, and one’s weaknesses and working on them relentlessly.

All this calls for

· Personal conviction,

· Stretching beyond imagination

· And a strong personal desire to make a difference

So what can help us in shaping and becoming the potential leaders of tomorrow who can the steer the ship of our country in the right direction:

1. Ownership and Accountability:

Dynamic Leadership is accountable to customers, to citizens of the country, investors, shareholders and regulators. As navigators, we are accountable for keeping the ship on course- more so in stormy weather. So rather than blot out the questions, we need to put into place systems and processes that foster transparency and make leaders more accountable.

2. Be at the ‘’Front Line’’ rather than confining themselves to the narrow walls:

We need to roll up our sleeves and get back into the trenches. The new leaders will need to break down the walls of hierarchy as it is not about leading from the top but co-innovating at the front line.

3. Always perceiving the glass as ‘’half full’’ rather than ‘’half empty’’

Emerging leaders are the ones who will look hard into the dark and spot the light at the end of the tunnel. There is a rainbow waiting to breakout and abundant opportunities beyond.

4. Collaboration and the power of ‘’WE’’:

Collaboration is the need of the hour. History has shown that be it the thawing of the Cold War or the formation of the European Union, dealing with cross border terrorism or cross-border recession, the power of collaboration is our only answer. India needs the collective strength of all the people to pull together today.

5. Asking the Right Questions:

Leadership today has changed from providing all the answers to the asking the right questions. Keep and open mind and let all the fresh minds provide fresh ideas.

6. Yes We Can:

A new realization has now dawned on us that there is no question mark about this one. Change comes to those who believe in it. One of the greatest responsibilities of the leader of tomorrow will be to bring back the confidence and the forward momentum and catalyse the positive energy our people today to light the way to a brighter tomorrow to save the nation from any crisis we faced similar to 26/11.

It’s time to end the myth of the complete leader. Those at the top must come to understand their weaknesses as well as their strengths. Only by embracing the ways in which they are incomplete can leaders fill in the gaps in their knowledge with others’ skills. The complete leader has the confidence and humility to recognize unique talents and perspectives throughout the organization—and to let those qualities shine. Leadership consists of four capabilities: Sensemaking, Relating, Visioning, and Inventing.

A). Sensemaking involves understanding and mapping the context in which a company/ society and its people operate. A leader skilled in this area can quickly identify the complexities of a given situation and explain them to others.

B). The second capability, relating, means being able to build trusting relationships with others through inquiring (listening with intention), advocating (explaining one’s own point of view), and connecting (establishing a network of allies who can help a leader accomplish his or her goals).

C). Visioning, the third capability, means coming up with a compelling image of the future. It is a collaborative process that articulates what the members of an organization want to create.

D). Finally, inventing involves developing new ways to bring that vision to life.

Rarely will a single person be skilled in all four areas. That’s why it’s critical that leaders find others who can offset their limitations and complement their strengths. Those who don’t will not only bear the burden of leadership alone but will find themselves at the helm of an unbalanced ship.

Even for the most gifted individuals, the process of becoming a leader is an arduous, albeit rewarding, journey of continuous learning and self-development. The initial test along the path is so fundamental that we often overlook it. However Management Education can provide sound base and framework in the making of such a leader who has the right values system instilled in him or her to manage our society and country at large.

In the words of Daisaku Ikeda- the president of the Sokka Gakkai International – a lay Buddhist organization ‘’ The 21st century is the century of education. Education is the key to the future. If education goes astray, everything else will follow suit’’ .

Formed in 1935, the John Dewey Society comprises scholars who conduct research related to the life and work of the eminent American educator and philosopher John Dewey. As John Dewey once wrote ‘’ Success means succeeding, getting forward, moving in advance. It is an active process, not a passive outcome ‘’ Dewey also wrote ‘’ The aim of education is to enable individuals to continue their growth. The purpose of education is not simply to cram one’s head full of facts’’. Dewey believed that the goal of education is to help us cultivate the wisdom that will allow us to keep growing and improving ourselves as long as we live’’. He also said that ‘’ The reconstruction of a society depends, to a very great extent upon the right education’’. We are living in troubled times, when humankind seems to have entered a long, dark tunnel. What steps should we take at such a juncture? Dewey clearly indicated the way to renewing our spirits and making our way out of the darkness is in the hands of the humankind. We human being possess the most readily accessible, the most powerful, most reliable and the most sustainable resource that is – our lives. Education is the means of the advancement of humanity towards realisation of its divine perfection.

Referring to Dewey’s philosophy, Dr. Hickman (the current president of the John Dewey Society) has stressed that the fundamental aim of education is to fully develop the potential of each individual and to cultivate the wisdom to correct social evils. This is the core of John Dewey’s philosophy and very few are able to articulate this truth with such a degree of clarity. Infact, the majority of people involved with education have lost sight of truth. They are unaware of the profound purpose of education, name to address and rectify the ills that afflict our societies.

The time has come for a revolution of consciousness among educators and the youth of India to realise the ever-growing importance of the role that the youth in this country have to play not just in their role as responsible citizens but the in its governance as well. Education is the only long term solution to this great problem that we face today and is the only ray of hope for the ‘’ Rising India’’ in the year 2009 and beyond.