BHASKAR PRAMANIK is Chairman, Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd. BHASKAR PRAMANIK is responsible for overseeing Microsoft’s sales, marketing and services subsidiary, provide overall leadership on all Microsoft assets in India and lead the company’s citizenship agenda Bhaskar has more than 35 years of experience in the IT industry. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was MD at Oracle India. Prior to that, he worked for Sun Microsystems for 13 years as the MD in India and his last assignment was as Global VP, Commercial Systems at the U.S. HQ. Mr Pramanik is an engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He attended the Advanced Marketing Management Program at Stanford University. He is a member of the Executive Council of NASSCOM and is the co-chair of the National Committee for IT, ITES & e-Commerce at CII.
Our Exclusive Interview:
What is your definition of a good leader?
A good leader is one who can provide a clear vision and purpose to the rest of the organization and lead them to success in achieving their objectives. A great leader gets the rest of the organization to own the vision, mission and strategy, providing the clarity of thought and purpose, motivating the team and nudging them in the right direction when they go astray. A great leader leads by example, takes bold decisions, provides an external perspective and challenges the past. Over all a good leader always works with and for people – employees, customers and partners. Good Leaders have strong values and their behaviors reflect their values. They know when to listen, when to follow, and admit when they are wrong. Good Leaders are risk takers. My favorite quote about good leaders is summarized as below.
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say; WE DID IT OURSELVES.
How do you think organizations should evaluate/measure “quality of leadership”?
Across a multiplicity of dimensions. Not just the WHAT but most important the HOW. On the WHAT, it is about executing in the short term while building for the future. Not just internal financial metrics but people based outcomes like employee motivation, succession planning, diversity and inclusion. Need to factor Customer/Partner satisfaction and performance against key competitors. I find Growth of the business as one of the best indicators of a leaders capability.
On the HOW it has to be across multiple dimensions like building people, organizational and systems capability, maximizing customer value, driving business performance, driving change, being the ambassador to internal and external stakeholders.
How can one improve one’s leadership skills?
While training helps there is no substitute to experience, emulating role models, shadowing good leaders etc. I have found that education helps to uncover the unconscious and strengthen your experiences. Listening to feedback, coaching and mentoring all help.
What are the three most important challenges in front of leaders in today’s times?
Growing the Business given the volatility of the internal and external environment, Change transformation, Building strong high performance teams/organizations.
What in your views are most effective ways/techniques for grooming future leaders?
Identify leaders early; get them to become self aware so that they know what they are good at, what they are not and may never be and enable them to come to terms with it; give them diverse experiences and challenges, provide good coaches and mentors. Have them shadow other good leaders. Expose them externally, provide rotational assignments, internationally, across functions. Observe and give feedback regularly. Constantly challenge them in a motivating way. Check how they respond to failure.
When should a leader call it quits?
When his team is ready and he can only add diminishing value. That does not imply and end of a career but perhaps the beginning of another!
Which leader in the Corporate world do you admire and why?
There are many. But Nelson Mandela pips most. I was very impressed by Alan Mullaly, his humility, how he turned Ford around, his family values.