For reference.. https://carolynescorner.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/teaching-children-to-fail/
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Saturday, March 08, 2014
KVKAND THE ART OF MEntoring
What makes Kundapur Vaman Kamath India Inc’s most prolific CEO guru?
Courtesy: Dibeyendu Ganguly
When Chanda Kochhar returned to work after a year of maternity leave in 1996, KV Kamath put her in charge of ICICI’s western region office, with responsibility for launching an important product. Moving from vanilla term loans, ICICI was introducing a new product linked to the prime lending rate (PLR) and Kochhar was to market it to corporates in the western region, with an ambitious target. Some might consider this an unkind way to treat a lady with a year old infant at home, but Kamath knew what he was doing. More importantly, he knew Kochhar and what she was capable of. Working tight hours, squeezing the most out of her time in office, rejigging systems and procedures where necessary and pushing her team to the limit, Kochhar managed to achieve the annual target — in three months. “Of all the people I have mentored, Chanda is my favourite,” says Kamath. “She knows how to manage her priorities. However challenging the assignment, she always delivered. I just had to keep giving her bigger opportunities.”
By naming Kochhar as his favourite protégé Kamath will be upsetting the many others he mentored over the years. But KVK is nothing if not the consummate professional, so he probably doesn’t mean it to be taken personally. Kochhar is, after all, his chosen successor as managing director and CEO of ICICI, where he is now non-executive chairman. But she is one of a minority. Most of Kamath’s best known mentees left ICICI en masse after his retirement and are now CEOs of competing banks. How does he feel about that? “It’s only natural that people will leave for other opportunities as the leadership cone gets narrow. There was a time when Unilever and Citibank were corporate India’s the leadership factories, now it’s us. So long as the engine is active, we will continue to produce leaders,” he says.
Indeed, history will probably remember Kamath not so much as the CEO who grew ICICI into the country’s largest bank but as the one who created a whole generation of leaders for India’s financial sector. The two achievements are actually closely linked. Returning to ICICI in 1995, after an eight year stint with the Asian Development Bank in Manila, Kamath consciously decided that if the government-promoted project finance institution was to transform itself into a universal bank, he would first need to develop the talent pool. THE PYGMALION EFFECT
"My journey into mentoring was a very conscious one," says Kamath. "We had a large pool of people, most of them in their 30s, but none of them at seniority levels required by the organisation. I had to watch for talent and once I spotted it, it was my job to provide them opportunities to grow. Once they had reached a senior level, I then needed to rotate them through different areas so their talents were rounded. At the same time, mentoring is not a group exercise. Each one's need is different."
Shikha Sharma, managing director of Axis Bank, was one of Kamath's first mentees. Ten years his junior at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), she joined the bank through campus placement in 1980 and initially worked with KVK in the strategy department, where he taught her how to work with spreadsheets, which wasn't part of the IIMA curriculum back then. Sharma recalls how Kamath's mentoring style changed completely after he returned from Manila: "Before he left, he was fatherly, a classic mentor. When he came back, his style was detached. He was like Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady. But he was equally effective in this second avatar. He didn't demonstrate any softness, but he was supportive."
Kamath's version of taking Eliza Doolittle to the races was to give his mentees challenging targets and give them the confidence that they were achievable. When ICICI Prudential Insurance was launched and Sharma was made CEO, she recalls the grand picture KVK painted of the coming insurance market: "He said there would be more than 30% growth and he wanted us to be the market leader, at least one-and-a-half times the size of the next player. I wouldn't have thought of such an ambitious landscape on my own. If he hadn't created such a picture, I wouldn't have been able to achieve it."
Kalpana Morparia, CEO of JP Morgan India has been known to call Kamath "boss", even in the presence of her present day bosses from JP Morgan world-wide. The former lawyer recalls how KVK moved her from ICICI's legal department to head its treasury and communications functions and ultimately to the post of joint-MD: "I had thought my functional expertise as a lawyer was my most valuable contribution, but he felt I had leadership qualities. He has this uncanny ability to identify traits in his subordinates that they don't believe they have."
For feedback junkies, Kamath would probably be the worst possible mentor. He never praised or chastised his mentees. Instead, they had to read the signals. "He was a very unconventional kind of mentor in that sense," says Morparia. "He never sat us down to tell us what he thought of our work. Instead, he threw new challenges. That was his way of acknowledging the contribution you made."
Most people consider Kamath's amazing success in promoting women like Morparia, Kochhar and Sharma to the top as his greatest achievement. In 2005, ET collectively felicitated 'the women behind ICICI' with The Economic Times Award for Corporate Excellence. But ask them about it and they deny KVK made any conscious effort to promote women in the organisation. "He didn't notice whether we were wearing sarees or suits," says Morparia. "The fact that we were women had nothing to do with anything."
The boss did notice the difference between sarees and suits, but he actually took great care not to let it show. Kamath recalls a time when he had assigned a team of three men and three women the task of preparing a set of proposals for the Board. It was a lot of work, but they managed to finish everything by deadline. When he complimented them and asked how they had managed it, he learnt they had all been working till two in the night and then going home by taxi. "I was worried about this but I didn't say anything to them. Instead, I quietly called HR and said all ladies should henceforth get a car drop after 10 pm. The emotional context is different for women leaders, but you should never deny opportunities because of gender," he says. By keeping a focus on performance rather than personality, Kamath was able to mentor a range of personas, some very different from him. V Vaidyanathan, one of Kamath's male mentees, joined ICICI laterally from Citibank in 2000 and went on to become managing director of ICICI Prudential. "Gender was never a factor for Mr Kamath," he says. "And neither was age. He took early calls on people and when he was convinced about their talent. His mentoring was never in-your-face. It was about giving you big opportunities and then letting you play the game. He was caring in his own way, but you had to understand his signals, the non-verbal cues."
Now managing director of Future Capital Holdings, Vaidyanathan remembers Kamath as being accessible to his mentees, but within time limits. The meetings were always brief — 20 minutes max — with no room for lingering, no chit-chat. So Vaidyanather took it upon himself to hitch rides home with his mentor after work, when he would ask him questions him on his life lessons. "He was otherwise shy when it came to talking about himself," says Vaidyanathan. "The car rides gave me a chance to goad him and know more about him and his thinking. I learnt that he is a spiritual man, something that is not generally known."
Morparia and Vaidyanathan agree on one thing: though they admire the man, they can never emulate his mentoring style. Both of them are high on verbal skills and they love to talk with their protégés, about everything, something which Kamath never did. Why did he choose to stay distant? "I don't believe a mentor and mentee should have a confiding relationship. If you concern yourself with their personal life, the relationship can get unmanageable," says Kamath.
Chanda Kochhar recalls the year following her maternity leave, when Kamath gave her some of the most challenging assignments: "He was aware of what was happening in my life, but he never brought it up in our conversations. And I didn't feel any need to discuss it with him because I was fine. I had no problems. A mentor should not meddle in your personal life unless there are serious problems. I learnt that from Mr Kamath."
In her bid to meet the targets set for the PLRlinked loans, Kochhar recalls making a series of productivity-enhancing changes in the systems and procedures of ICICI's western region offices. Later, Kamath asked whose permission she had taken for making such drastic changes. "I said no one, I'd decided on my own. He said that's exactly what he wanted to hear. He believed in empowering individuals, it was part of his style," she says.
Over 15 years, till he retired as CEO, Kamath estimates he spent 30% of his time in mentoring ICICI's people. Mentoring has never been a human resource (HR) department initiative at the bank — it is something discussed at Board level, with the executive directors given specific responsibility for mentoring individuals. In fact, Kamath is not much of a believer in HR-led mentoring where the mentee might be several rungs junior and outside his normal sphere of influence. "There's no need to make it complex. You shouldn't have to make special time for mentoring. It should happen in the course of normal interactions," he says.
Talent spotting has now become second nature to Kamath, since he's been practicing it for over two decades. "Even now, I can spot exceptional people at any level. I can't mentor them myself, but I do draw them to the attention with leaders who can," he says.
Appropriately, Kamath's first big assignment after retiring from ICICI is the chairmanship of Infosys, where the previous chairman referred to himself as Chief Mentor. Why hasn't he retained the title for himself ? The man checks to see if we're joking, but we keep a suitably earnest expression on our face. So he says seriously: "At Infosys, Narayana Murty is a unique person. He built the organisation brick by brick and taught others the importance of mentoring. But the context has changed. Infosys has now become a leadership factory for the IT industry." That's exactly a clear answer, but hey, you have to learn to read the signals.
From Left (clockwise): Kalpana Morparia, Renuka Ramnath, V Vaidyanathan, Vishakha Mulye Madhavi Puri Buch, Ram Kumar, Sonjoy Chatterjee, Shikha Sharma, Nachiket Mor and
“A mentor should not meddle in your personal life unless there are serious problems. I learnt that from Mr Kamath.” Chanda Kochhar, CEO, ICICI Bank
“He was like Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady” Shikha Sharma, CEO, Axis Bank
“He didn't notice whether we were wearing sarees or suits” Kalpana Morparia, CEO, JP Morgan India
“You had to understand his signals, the non-verbal cues.” V Vaidyanathan, CEO, Future Capital Holdings
Friday, March 07, 2014
Thursday, November 28, 2013
1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.
2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.
3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.
4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.
5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.
6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.
7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.
8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
Mentally strong people accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.
9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.
10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
Mentally strong people don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.
11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive. They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.
12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
Mentally strong people don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.
13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results
Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.