Monday, March 21, 2011

What Leaders do ?

N. R. Narayana Murthy, the iconic Infosys Founder, never went to a management school. Nevertheless, he was a born leader, as an incident that took place several years ago illustrates. A former Infosys top official who in 1990-92 steered the company's European operations in 1990-92 narrated the following incident. Mr Murthy had been invited by a well-respected organisation in London to render a speech in the evening. But the official — the narrator of the story — who was escorting Mr Murthy to the venue, due to a miscommunication with the taxi driver, found to his horror that at the time of the appointment, they were, in fact, at the other end of town. By the time they managed to reach the venue, the official was a nervous wreck and mentally readied himself to put in his papers. . But when the taxi was taking both of them all round the town, not once did Mr Murthy accuse him of committing a blunder.

The official made a hasty retreat to his house after leaving Mr Murthy at the venue, realising that the Infosys head would not want to see him anywhere near after the speech was over. However, he received a call from Mr Murthy asking him what he was doing at his residence. He apologised profusely and offered to resign. But Mr Murthy put him at ease saying that it was not his mistake but that of the taxi driver and asked him to talk to some of the industry leaders present at the venue so that he could meet them at a later stage. The official not only got to retain his job but also got to experience first-hand how good managers handle sticky situations.

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