Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dr.Kalam on Leadership

I am a great fan of Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam. A man who rose from a humble background to become the missile man of India and then subsequently the President of India. In his tenure as president he opened the gates of Rashtrapathi Bhavan to the public and made it “People’s bhavan”. The only president who tried to connect with people especially the younger generation. In my opinion his strong character came out when he sent back the Office of Profit Bill to the Parliament for reconsideration. He was a different president and was not willing to be just a puppet in the hands of the government.

I came across this video in you tube.

This is an interesting interview with Dr.Kalam. In this video he talks about several things but what stands out are his thoughts on leadership and the narration of his experience with Satish Dhawan in the context of a leader taking responsibility for failure.

Dr.Kalam talks about six traits a leader should possess. They are:

Have a vision
Have the ability to take the unexplored Path
Know how to manage success and more importantly failures
Have Courage to take decisions
Have nobility in management – Transparency in every action
Be in continuous touch with people

For those of you who don’t have the patience to watch a 22 minute video, here is the personal experience that Dr.Kalam narrates in the interview.

This happened when Dr.Kalam was the Mission director for Rohini satellite launch and Dr.Dhawan was the Chairman of ISRO. Rohini Phase 1a was launched in August 1979 and was a big failure. It seems Dr.Dhawan took the press conference in Sriharikota after the launch and took complete responsibility for the failure and said that Kalam’s team was short of technological support which he would provide and that he was confident that his team would come out good in the next attempt.

Rohini 1B was launched subsequently next year in July and was a success. Dr.Dhawan apparently asked Dr.Kalam himself to take the press conference. What an example of leadership? It is very hard to find such great leaders who take the blame when there is a failure and give the credit to their team members when there is success.

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