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October 24, 2001
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Infosys CEO, driver go back to school

Gagandeep Kaur

Here's a new twist to the tale of Narayana Murthy and his millionaire drivers. The Infosys CEO and one of his company's drivers would attend the same school to hone their leadership skills.

The Infosys Leadership Institute has identified 150 employees as future leaders who will be trained at the institute. And those who have made it to the list include one of the drivers of Infosys and the CEO himself.

If you think that there is no need to train the CEO, the institute begs to differ. It believes there is always scope for improvement. "These leaders are at various levels of the organisation, from a driver to the CEO, the institute's director GK Jayaram said.

Jayaram said the leadership competencies were identified after a detailed analysis of the most desired traits that an ideal Infosys leader ought to have.

"We benchmarked some of the best competencies across the world and then the board ratified the names. These competencies were designed for a resilient leader in the Infosys context," Jayaram said.

The appraisal to select a leader is carried out through a 360 degree feedback mechanism where people are asked to rate a person on certain leadership competencies.

"The leadership competencies were identified after a detailed analysis of the most desired traits that an ideal Infosys leader ought to have. The constituents providing feedback are superiors, peers, subordinates, clients and self," Jayaram said.

The Rs 500-million Infosys Leadership Institute trains an employee keeping the present as well as the future requirements of the company in mind while at the same time preparing him for his next role.

The list of the high potentials for the first batch was drawn under the Infosys Leadership System. The number of students could go up to 1,500 in the next three years depending on the business need for growth.

"The preliminary pool was drawn from the board of directors, management council, management council invitees, chairman's list of awardees, winners of Infosys excellence award and additional leaders considered from all the levels of delivery and support," said Jayaram.

Though the institute is training only 150 Infoscions, the number is likely to increase 10 times in the coming three years. Infosys Leadership Institute plans to open itself to other companies by 2003.

"The leadership program is aimed at accelerated learning of the high potential and hence the personal development plan is a three to five year time frame with at least three developmental change objectives which prepares a person for the next role," said Jayaram.

The training programmes constitutes of 'nine pillars' ranging from Infosys culture to feedback intensive learning.

To help an employee identify his strengths and weakness is the 360 degree feedback programme which is based on collecting opinions about a person's performance from a wide range of co-workers.

Another feedback programme is the feedback intensive program, which is a "classroom based educational experience that uses various resources to provide an intensive and comprehensive look at an individual's leadership skills on different attributes," said Jayaram.

The institute offers a separate programme on developmental relationships, which are one-to-one relationships in work settings that facilitate the sharing and transfer of knowledge and experience between individuals.

The training also focuses on Infosys culture and community empathy.

"The community empathy program is an effort to nurture and enhance the social conscience and this will help in assisting our high potentials in identifying and working on community empathy projects. We are planning a culture definition session by the top management and culture audit since culture is an important aspect in enhancing high performance," said Jayaram.

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