Business Today

Leaderspeak: Ravi Venkatesan

Here are excerpts of a small Q&A with Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft Corp. (India).

Saumya Bhattacharya | Print Edition: March 21, 2010

The leadership lesson I remember best
As a young kid, seeing J.R.D. Tata quietly picking up bags falling off the baggage carousel at the Bombay airport and putting them back. A dramatic illustration of the fact that really great leaders are genuinely humble.

The political leader I admire the most
Barack Obama.

The business leader I admire the most
Bill Gates, of course! I deeply admire his intense curiosity about everything and his capacity for reinventing himself.

Books/movies I would recommend on leadership
Good to Great by Jim Collins and Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf.

What I think is the difference between a manager and a leader
A manager does things right, which implies execution excellence and efficiency, whilst a leader does the right things, which implies a vision and a path that inspires followership. Management is a career. Leadership is a calling. Both are needed.

The worst thing a leader can do
Be focussed on himself/herself. Nothing causes you to lose trust and followership faster.

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