Sajjan Jindal

SAJJAN JINDAL is the Chairman of JSW Group, a $13 billion company and one of the leading conglomerates in India. Ranked among India’s top business houses, JSW’s innovative and sustainable ideas cater to the core sectors of Steel, Energy, Cement and Infrastructure. The Group continues to strive for excellence with its strength, differentiated product mix, state-of-the-art technology, excellence in execution and focus on sustainability.

A mechanical engineer by training, Mr. SAJJAN JINDAL has been instrumental in transforming the functioning of the Indian steel industry with his progressive engagement of all stakeholders in the development process at JSW Steel.

In 1984, Mr. Jindal commenced his career in Mumbai to independently look after the Western region Business of Steel Manufacturing of O.P.Jindal Group. Since then he has followed an aggressive strategy that has led him to be one of India’s largest private integrated steel-makers.

Mr. Jindal also serves as council member of the Indian Institute of Metals and is also a member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the Sustainability Committee of World Steel Association, as well as the former President of Institute of Steel Development and Growth. In 2007, he was named the Ernst and Young ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ in the manufacturing category. In 2009, he was honored with the Willy Korf Ken Iverson Steel Vision Award by the American Metal Market & World Steel Dynamics.

Our Exclusive Interview:

What is your definition of a good leader?

A Good Leader is an amalgam of several complementing attributes which conspire to make the sum greater than the individual parts. To Quote Kipling, “If you can keep your head when all other are losing theirs and blaming it on you,” unquote, a leader is someone who does not buckle under pressure and reserves the best for such moments. He sees every challenge as an opportunity and uses them as the wind beneath his wings to rise ever higher in the face of adversity. He should be a good motivator and should endeavour to extract the best out of his team and ensure that the overall goals are never far from the minds of the teams. He leads from the front and can be seen counselling and mentoring his team to excel in their respective spheres for the overall good of the organisation.

How do you think organizations should evaluate/measure quality of leadership?

Quality of leadership is to be evaluated based on multi-dimensional criteria which inter alia include the ability of the leadership to create sustainable competitive advantage. If organisations have to survive longer, it is not adequate to sustain business in the short term or to make incremental changes for some improvement.Even though these are essential elemnets in measuring the quality of leadership team, the key vital element to success is to find new ways to compete making it difficult for others to replicate. This alone makes organisations unique and enables them to stay longer. This dimension is the top most element to be kept in mind while evaluating the quality of leadership.

How can one improve one’s leadership skill?

Leadership skills are important traits that one should continually acquire and sharpen. These skills are not static and the leader is bound to constantly endeavour to be an explorer, passionate learner and effective listener in this dynamic business environment.Thinking beyond the brief gives an opportunity to learn more, keeping an ear to the ground enables to get feedback from stakeholders throwing up potential opportunities, building teams with complementary skills brings different perspectives to the table and delegating and empowering the team enables appropriate prioritisation of the tasks. The leader with these skill sets can inspire, motivate and energise the organisation for common purpose.

What are the three most important challenges in front of leaders in today’s time?

The successful organisations are those which are allowed to survive by stakeholders. The leader should create a harmonious ecosystem in which all the stakeholders are engaged for mutual benefit. Maintaining and managing the ecosystem to allow business to sustain is the primary challenge. The second challenge is the creation of an organisation which can adopt to the scale, speed and intensity of change in the business environment. The third daunting task is to assemble, motivate and retain quality teams with appropriate skills to achieve the corporate goals.

What in your view are the most effective ways/techniques for grooming future leaders?

The first and foremost thing is to establish a robust process of identifying candidates having the potential to be future leaders. The key ingredients to look for in future leaders are an innate curiosity to learn, passion and an aspirational attitude, hunger and the ability to go the extra mile to deliver the goals, maturity and emotional balance.Once the candidate passes this litmus test, the grooming I to expose them to challenging tasks and train them to sharpen their natural abilities of problem solving, creative thinking and conflict resolution.

When should a leader call it quits?

There comes a moment of introspection in every leader’s life and the mantra is to quit when everyone says why and not why not. It could be a momentary thing or one could just lose one’s mojo. A sudden lack of motivation in driving the organisation forward, resulting from either a personal realignment of priorities or realigning market dynamics, could propel leaders towards such decisions.It could also result from the perception that there may be someone else who is better equipped to handle the challenges thrown up by the evolving business realities or it could simply result from a diminishing in the “fire in the belly” which could result in the leader calling it a day.

Which leader in the corporate world do you admire and why?

Jack Welch.
He was a people man and a great motivator. He could organise teams and extract the best from each of them. He was a Technology man and realised the immense potential that technology could play as a driver of growth. He was a visionary and could articulate his vision lucidly all of which enabled him to translate his plans for GE into a reality and metamorphose it into a truly Global Corporation.