INSTANT MBA: Destroy Hierarchy And Show Employees You're One Of Them

Vineet Nayar

Photo: World Economic Forum via Flickr

Today’s advice comes from Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, an IT company based in India, via The New York Times“If you see your job not as chief strategy officer and the guy who has all the ideas, but rather the guy who is obsessed with enabling employees to create value, I think you will succeed. That’s a leadership style that evolved from my own understanding of the fact that I’m not the greatest and brightest leader born. My job is to make sure everybody is enabled to do what they do well.”

Nayar practices what he preaches. He developed a philosophy and wrote a book called Employees First, Customers Second,  based on the idea that management should be held accountable for employees and not the other way around. He implements this into HCL’s culture because he believes that in order to be a great leader, you must make sure your employees are maximizing their abilities and talents. If you don’t enable them, it is your fault if they underperform, not theirs. 

He says the best way to enable your employees is to communicate, to show them you are just like them. By creating transparency, you are showing subordinates that you are in the fight with them. 

“One thing I learned was to communicate in extremes. So I asked myself, how do I communicate to employees to not look up to me, but to look within, to communicate that I’m one of you, to destroy that hierarchy? So I decided I’m going to go into this big gathering of employees dancing to a very famous Bollywood song. And I can’t dance for nuts, right? I was dancing in the aisles with these employees and making lots of noises. What happened? It completely destroyed the gap.”

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