Game changer. Inventor. A man with whisper power. These are among the various descriptions used to describe Ratan Tata by his key aides. With his stint at the helm of Tata group entering its final phase, top executives of the group who have worked closely with him have showered praise on the Tata group chairman as he prepares to hang up his boots.
In an apparent tribute to an outgoing leader, Tata Sons director R Gopalakrishnan, Tata Sons finance director Ishaat Hussain, Tata Industries managing director Kishor Chaukar, Tata Sons group human resources (HR) chief Satish Pradhan and Tata Quality Management Services head Sunil Sinha have written about different characteristics of Ratan Tata's leadership, ranging from courage to humility, in the latest issue of the group's internal publication Tata Review.
Ratan Tata's 21-year stint as the chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of all Tata group firms, will come to an end in December 2012. A search committee has been formed to find a successor for Ratan Tata from within or outside the group. The selection committee member and Tata Sons director RK Krishnakumar had earlier said that it was tough to find a replacement for Ratan Tata and had called him a "born leader".
Ishat Hussain has called Tata "a game changer" and "inventor".
Chaukar, who praised Tata for his courage, also said that he brings tremendous energy levels to the job. "He is an amazing indefatigable individual. I have never seen him say, 'I am tired, we'll do tomorrow."
"A whisper from him can reach 5,000 decibels. So he plays his role in a measured, gentle way," said Satish Pradhan, the group's HR chief.
"The Tata leadership story is part of the distinctive narrative that has Ratan Tata and the leadership infrastructure he created at the centre of the group," he added.
Tata's organisational structure, where huge amount of responsibility are transferred to group companies from the parent has created many leaders, said Sunil Sinha. "In organisations, the parent companies are listed and the children are unlisted. In case of the Tatas, the parent is unlisted and the children are listed."
Terming humility as yet another dimension to the Tata leadership matrix, Sinha said, "no one demonstrates this characteristic more than Ratan Tata."
(with agency inputs)