A good leader strategises and always leads from the front
Rana Kapoor, founder of Yes Bank, has steered the bank since its inception to a height of glory. There is an opportunity in crisis and if you can do it right then, you immediately win confidence, he tells Mahua Venkatesh in an interview.business Updated: Sep 05, 2013 04:43 IST
Rana Kapoor, founder managing director and CEO of Yes Bank, has steered the bank since its inception to a height of glory at a time when the going has been tough. As the chief of the bank, he along with his team, decided to invest in the media and advertise at a difficult time. There is an opportunity in crisis and if you can do it right then, you immediately win confidence, he tells HT in an interview. Edited excerpts:
You have been leading the bank for a long time. How difficult is it when times are tough?
Crisis always throws up opportunities and that is something I have always believed in. Human resources risks, which we take for granted, is the single biggest factor at any given point and once you have sorted that out, you have won half the battle.
How difficult is it to be a promoter of a company and also run it professionally?
Whether it is a promoter who is driving the company or a professional, it is absolutely critical to run the organisation in a professional manner. I have a group of top professionals who runs the company. The board needs to elect and shareholders’ approval is a must and I have to work like a professional CEO. It is simple.
Being the promoter, how do you manage to be in sync with the company and employees?
It does not matter if a promoter is running the company as long as he or she is in sync with the company’s ethos and spirit. As a leader, you need to institutionalise vision and strategy and also focus on implementation of the same. The bank (Yes Bank) is a nine-year-old baby and it has to be brought up and nurtured into adulthood.
There has been a lot of controversy engulfing the bank especially with Madhu Kapur, who is also the co-promoter at Yes Bank, launching a legal battle seeking participatory rights in the nomination of directors on the bank’s board. How do you think it impacts the bank’s daily functioning and how do you handle this?
Yes, there have been some issues but I would not comment as it is a court issue. But I have maintained that Yes Bank is a professional bank and it would be run professionally.
Earlier you had mentioned that no one from your family, including your children, would come into the bank.
Absolutely ...it has been uncompromisingly decided that family members would not be inducted on the board. This had been agreed upon since the time of inception, though it has not been documented. If we need to grow as a professional bank, we need to be run in a professional manner and not as a family company driven by the Kapoors.
How do you handle conflicting colleagues?
I believe the best way to deal with conflicting colleagues is to call them together with the objective of finding a single solution which is in sync with the organisation and in the interests of the company. It is important that when they walk out of the room, they feel better and the issue is resolved. When they walk out of the room, they feel much better.
What is your best leadership decision?
The best decision to my mind is to name the bank "Yes". Bharat Patel, who was one of the board members, played a big role in naming the bank. The brand had a lot of birth pangs and there was a huge doubt on the very brand name. On one side there was apprehension over the brand name, which was very different from the traditional bank brands, while on the other, there was positivity. It was simple and could be easily differentiated.
"Yes" is one of the most-spoken words in English and it was a new-age bank. It kind of reinforced high energy. The bank has 7,800 people today. Of course, the decision to go retail was also big and has paid off.
Decisions that have gone wrong?
Many decisions have gone wrong since as a leader you are required to take decisions and certain decisions do go wrong. But it is important to take decisions, and in case, some of the decisions that you have taken go wrong, be prompt in correcting them. You need to lead from the front.
Who is your inspiration?
I believe in divine intervention. I get a lot of inspiration from a little prayer to the Almighty. Besides, I have a lot of admiration for former US president Bill Clinton. He is very inspirational and full of energy, which is contagious.
What is your leadership mantra?
Visualise, strategise and implement. This needs to be followed with a Hanumanian effort. You need to have a Bajrang Bali in you.