Vineet Nayar, a leader, author and a philanthropist, is not only a management visionary but also a radical thinker who transformed HCL from a $0.7 billion company to a soaring $4.7 billion global technology service company. His disruptive leadership tactics, after navigating through fair and unfair share of opinions, has brought in unmatchable growth at HCL.
During his joining days at HCL, Nayar and other new joiners were hired with a make-belief that they were employed to be the change-makers in the company. Nayar, who took this task to heart, was almost fired during the first 30 days due to his candid thoughts on where he disagreed to the management. But around the same time, many employees had started resigning from HCL’s Bombay division because of which they refrained from sacking him. Instead, to challenge him, Nayar was sent to Bombay, where employees were thoroughly demotivated due to the sapping and steady losing of deals to rivals. Shifting from the ordinary tactics, the philanthropist brought in 50 condolence cards in his office and told his employees that every time they bag a deal, they would send a condolence card to the salesperson from the competing company. The task to send out 50 cards within a year became a challenge that the employees sportingly took on. The negative energy of losing a deal got converted into a motivation in no time, and the office soon started winning one out of every two deals they bid on.
The former CEO staunchly believes a leader can only lead if his people want to be led; and people will accept the leadership only if they believe their leader has an idea to which they can align. Until people don’t believe their passion aligns with their leaders’, they wouldn’t instil their trust in them leader and wouldn’t want to be led. Nayar deems, a leader should have a deep-rooted conviction in his ideologies and his stand on something. He cites, “Leadership is about being passionate about an idea.” To him, whoever said work with your feet on the ground is wrong. Instead, he suggests on having one foot firmly planted on the ground and simultaneously experiment with the other.
Nayar has been a constant advocate for change. With a mission in mind to have an ‘innovation-led large-scale social change’, he co-founded Sampark Foundation. It has enabled transformation by educating over seven million children throughout India. Nayar is an absolute exemplary of how unconventional methods and speaking one’s mind out can bring about positive transformation in the organisation. And like he propagates, “Unless the company becomes obsessed with constant change for the better, gradual change for the worse usually goes unnoticed.”