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Management lessons you learn from real life
Manoj Kohli | November 29, 2006
Some of the important lessons in management are learnt from real life. In fact, you are better off learning them as you grow in your job and in life: we would probably not have taken them seriously had we been told about them in B-school.
As you move through the real world, you realise the Devil lies in the detail. You often discover the real strengths and weaknesses of an idea or a business process only when you delve into it.
It is always important to ask not just the whys and the whats, but also by whom and by when. Remember, the academic business models are only as good as their details make them.
"Keep your strategy close to your chest" remains the golden rule. But in our effort to be secretive, we often become too tight-lipped. Strategy kept too confidential often turns out to be a big hindrance.
Even company insiders fail to relate to it. The more you communicate and share your strategic intent and navigational tools with your team, the better off you are to align their resources to the key tasks.
Most of the theoretical constructs on leadership heavily stress the "command and control" aspect. But leadership is a much wider phenomenon; the role of the leader is to give hope in times of uncertainty and guard against complacency in euphoric times. He is there not to control but inspire people to realise their full potential.
Finally, B-schools rarely highlight the trickiest issue that a manager confronts - the delicate balance between work and life. Here's an interesting analogy. You are like a juggler, who has to keep five balls in the air.
Four balls are glass and the fifth is rubber. The glass balls are your family, health, friends and spirit. The rubber ball is your work. If a glass ball falls, it will crack beyond repair. If the rubber ball falls, it will bounce back, if not tomorrow, then in a few months.
Unfortunately, some young leaders are focusing so much on the rubber ball, they are dropping the glass balls. They do not understand the basic truth that if your glass balls are intact, you will do much better in your professional career.
Manoj Kohli is president, Bharti Airtel. He graduated from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi, in 1986