Leadership Summit ’17 : Rethinking Leadership – Exploring New Possibilities

Is a leader the only one who propels a team towards success? Rather a leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. The Vinod Gupta School of Management has always been the torchbearer in the IIT ecosystem to embark on the journey to produce impeccable corporate leaders through its excellent management education. This year marks the 6th anniversary of Purvodaya, the annual business fest of the VGSoM, IIT Kharagpur. The much-anticipated event of Purvodaya, The Leadership Summit exemplifies that effort and stands as the quintessence of a symposium where outstanding leaders sit down for a discourse that is designed to guide potential managers. The summit has managed to excel every year and boasts of some of the most revolutionary corporate honchos and change maestros in its invitation list. This year’s summit which was held on the 4th of February, 2017 included a diverse line-up of guest speakers who spoke on the topic, “Rethinking Leadership – Exploring New Possibilities”. The line-up included:

  • Ms. Mitali Mukherjee, Business journalist, Former Markets Editor CNBC ( Moderator )

  • Mr. Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network

  • Mr. Aashish P. Sommaiyya, MD and CEO, Motilal Oswal Asset Management Co. Ltd.
  • Mr. Lalit Malik, CFO, Dabur India Ltd.
  • Mr. Sumit Sharma, COO, Lacoste India

  • Mr. P.V. Sheshadri, CEO, Future Supply Chain Solutions

  • Mr. Sandeep Lakhina, Former CEO, Mint-HT Media & EVP, Dentsu Aegis Network

The panel discussion aimed to create a synopsis of what the changing role of leadership means in today’s world. Our world as we know it has continuously been evolving, even more so in the past decade or two. Established practices which were theorised over the past century no longer seem to hold ground with the rising emergence of greater emotional intelligence among the workforce, newer ethical and regulatory constraints and diverse demographics within the numerous multinationals that exist today. Thus, the idea of leadership must also change as a part of this evolution.

Ms. Mitali Mukherjee who was the moderator for the summit this year did a splendid job of guiding the discussion and instigating greater interaction between the audience and the panel. The discussion started with the concept of positional leadership, how the bottom-up approach at governance is key to making a positive difference and how managers today, should be present at every level of governance be it on the shop floor or at the boardroom table. One of the more important topics was that of the advent of globalisation, the effect it has had on the economic system. Managing diversity among people, to incorporate cultural values in management, maintaining transparency and leveraging intelligence, these were cited as the most critical challenges that present itself to organisations today. There were arguments on how ethical leadership now takes precedence over all other forms of administration.  Since the majority of the millennials are perceived to be fearless of hierarchy and seek integrity within those they look up to, leading them must also involve a responsibility to nurture and motivate through example, which is something role models today must do in order to pass on value. Another quality to which success was attributed to was accountability in leaders. The ability to take ownership is an important differentiating factor among those who ultimately transitioned to leading positions, it displays dedication and strength. When startups were brought to question, accountability was the key. It was important to recognise that today’s environment allows once to start up easily, fail easily and get back easily but few of the ones who do make it out there differentiate themselves through sheer hard work and innovation. It is thus very important to own up to responsibility. One of the many questions that came up from the audience was from a young lady who asked, “Everyone who is a part of the workforce today looks to find some form of meaning, how do we as students learn to create an impact through our work”? The panel was quick to indicate how the most important part to that was the meaning of impact and its personal significance to the person in question. In other words, the biggest struggle is to figure out exactly what you wish to change, the subsequent steps to working towards it appear easier thereafter.

As the discussion neared its end, the panel had leveraged the best of their practical experiences from the industry to define constructs like positional leadership, the ideals of integrity and ethical governance, objectivity in dealing with information and communication as key tools in changing the way leaders must function today. The vital insights to how crucial Re-thinking leadership is and on the nuanced approaches to management in our contemporary times will have helped inspire all present there to strive towards excellence.

VGSoM Kharagpur

The Vinod Gupta School of Management is a business school in India. It was established in 1993 at IIT Kharagpur and was the first management school to be set up within the IIT system. It was initiated by a distinguished alumnus and a Life Time Fellow of the Institute, Mr. Vinod Gupta. In the year 2018, VGSoM completed 25 glorious years of its existence as a premier B-School of India. Today it is consistently ranked as one of the top 15 Institutes for business management in the country and boasts of a list of illustrious alumni holding prestigious positions in companies across the world.