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Marathon man and Tata’s new boss has 5 leadership lessons for you

Discipline, will power and above all, humility, makes for an inspiring leader

education Updated: Jan 16, 2017 11:27 IST
N Chandrasekaran used to walk three km to school and lived with his brothers when he started working.
N Chandrasekaran used to walk three km to school and lived with his brothers when he started working.(Reuters)

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), who will now head Tata Sons, the holding company of India’s largest conglomerate by revenues, is known to be a fitness freak and a bit of a workaholic. The 53-year-old has been leading India’s most successful IT company, which is valued at $67 billion, accounting for 60% of the group’s market value. From a student who walked three km to his Tamil medium school to an intern who joined TCS as a software programmer and rose through the ranks to take the top job, Chandrasekaran’s life has a number of motivating lessons. Here’s what you can learn from him.

Loyalty: Chandrasekaran joined TCS as an intern software programmer who rose through the ranks to become, at 46, one of the youngest CEOs of the Tata group. In an age where job-hopping is the rage, sticking to an organisation definitely proves your loyalty, patience and perseverance.

Man who leads: He’s known to spend long hours at work and balance it out with his running regimen. He trusts his team implicitly, empowering them to take on responsibilities. After taking charge at TCS as a CEO, teams reporting to him directly were given boot camp training to prepare for a marathon to help them get fit and bond with each other.

Discipline, dedication: A family history of diabetes is said to have triggered his passion for running marathons - something which requires tremendous stamina, discipline and will power. He makes space and time in his life for running despite extensive work and travelling. Chandrasekaran has also said that this passion has shaped his thinking as a leader and made him something of a long distance thinker.

Responsibility: In a speech after the announcement of his name as head of the country’s largest conglomerate, Chandrasekaran made it clear that he was aware of his responsibility to bring things back on track after the acrimonious battle at the top. “This position requires several leadership qualities and compassion,” he said, adding that he would grow into this role gradually, taking the responsibility to bind the group together.

Humility: A man who walked three km to school and went about on a scooter when he started working, has not let success get to his head. He’s known to be a people’s person who always has a polite response to the emails and text messages sent to him. That he would not work alone was made amply clear in his speech after the announcement of his chairmanship of Tata Sons. “I will need a lot of support. It is never one man’s job and it will be a collective leadership,” he has promised. This job won’t be easy, but Chandrasekaran makes it amply clear he will make a difference to the fortunes of the company.