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The Lala in the cabin



Yesterday there was a buzz in the TV channels about the Congress party meeting where it was expected that Rahul Rajiv was supposed to be made the President and the “vice” dropped from his designation. Well there is a popular saying in Sanskrit which says “Vinashakale Vipareeta Buddhi”, the English translation would be “when bad times come around, you stop thinking right”. Bad times are upon the Congress so expect more mindless decisions from them 🙂

Nothing against my friendly dodo, Rahul, but I just have a few questions – what has he done in these 45 odd years ? What experience has he gained ? What qualifies him to lead the Congress party ? What new ideas has he brought in ? …. He is just an easy target so I won’t go after him, but what worries me is the Indian corporate world also seems to be mirroring the political world !

People get a plum role because the boss “likes” them and “thinks” they are awesome – their background, feedback from peers, results so far… All be damned. Krishnan consulted for a “Lala” once .. It was fascinating to see how “whims” ran the firm. There was no respect for process, policies or experience 🙂 someone who was studying HR was made “Marketing Director” because he happened to be the Lala’s cousin’s son. And this dude would question the well made Marketing plans by an experienced Krishnan. Krishnan was ok with the questioning or new ideas, but this kid had little understanding of the plan and wasn’t interested in learning. He even went on to say that he had suggestions for how to develop a marketing plan :):):):). Krishnan would be frustrated, that every decision that he managed to bring about after careful consideration and long deliberations would be turned on its head the very next minute or the next day because this kid would say something to the Lala !!! We thought that’s what happens in a Lala company but is it so ?

When I look around and when friends who work for other companies meet and we discuss how things happen in the corporate world … Even in really world class organizations, we have Lalas – managers and leaders who have scant regard for process, policies or experience. How else do you explain the many round pegs that are struggling in square holes or vice versa ? Hey am all for job rotation and developing people by putting them into completely different functions, different from their area of expertise. But it needs to be a programmatic approach, not whimsical. You can take a punt on a good performer with a great attitude, but not on a poor performer with a sycophantic outlook.

There is huge value for background, experience and above all this, there is tremendous value in the right attitude and results. Evaluate appropriately, the potential of an individual needs evaluation through many other people, not just your view. Ask his/her peers, previous bosses, clients, all stakeholders … And evaluate performance – what was promised, was it delivered. When you want someone to gain all round experience, you obviously believe the person is leadership material – make sure you hear from everyone about this person before placing your bets. “Liking” him/her, good “gut” feeling about him/her is insufficient data, support the liking and gut feeling with data from other sources and do it with an open mind.

Lalas are fun folks, and make a lot of money but remember only they make money and you live on their largesse. They are also in the cabins and cubicles next to you :).

For non-Indians – Lala is a business owner who runs his company like his personal fiefdom, which is what it is.

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Categories: Corporate musingsTags: , , , , ,

1 comment

  1. Bindu,
    For your information: The Lalas have now professionalised themselves, but the congress party has not. Perhaps you are right about the “Vinasha Kaalam” for congress party. Assuming you are right (aapke muh mey ghee shakkar) can you think of a better person than maasoom Rahul beta to do the funeral rites? Jai Hind!

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