When Shadows Start Giving Management Lessons In IIM Trichy!

Two years isn’t a short time, is it? Well, after working for around two years in the industry, after my graduation, coming back to the classrooms of IIM Tiruchirappalli demanded quite an effort from my end. But soon, I started figuring out some of the most interesting parts of the MBA journey.

The best part that I started liking about IIM Tiruchirappalli, from the very first day of class was the diversity in the class discussions. To make the sessions more effective, the students are highly encouraged to voice their opinion and bring in relevant personal experiences to the table.

To add to this, the batch also comprises of students from diverse backgrounds and even more diversity in their thoughts. And therefore, the class discussions are not only informative but also turn out to be pretty thought-provoking. Usually, the discussions start with challenging the status quo, undergoes debates and usually ends with multiple viewpoints.

One such class, which I will be talking about was a class on Organizational Behavior. The session was on leadership and the Prof. was talking about the dynamics and difference of leading teams from the forefront and leadership from behind.

The session, as usual, touched upon several facets of leadership. He talked about the differences between a true visionary leader and a manager, trait theories to distinguish a leader form a non- leader, the Managerial Grid, Blake & Mouton’s findings and the list just goes on. But the interesting part was the subsequent class discussions.

There were questions and as usual, there were opinions and discussions. There were instances of crisis situations and how leaders are expected to handle such situations. One of our friends, who had experience in the insurance industry, brought in an example from his previous company. He worked as a manager there and had to face several such crisis situations. They used to address such do-or-die situations as ‘Defy Gravity’ condition and had to take decisions very meticulously. The stake of the project rested on that decision and their leadership qualities were later accessed on these decisions, by the higher management. The best part that I felt about that experience was the authority that they got along with the responsibility. Authority, after all, is the genesis of organizational framework. It is an essential accompaniment to manifest leadership skills.

There were also experiences about failed startups and regenerations. One another friend shared his experiences with social entrepreneurship and his challenges. He failed twice and still attempted for the third time with the same idea. He named this third attempt as ‘Phoenix’ and was able to bring in sustainable success at this attempt. He motivated his partners again and again and had to leave his job for this. The kind of perseverance and zeal to fight through was indeed exemplary. The best part was that he could persuade his co-partners and his family members through his vision and his eagerness to succeed.

As usual, I prefer listening to others before bringing in my point. But, I make sure, I speak my heart out when I have an opinion or any idea to share. That day, after coming across the discussions on leadership, there was a picture that flashed through my mind again and again. I came across that picture a couple of days before that class, on some social networking site and downloaded the same. And I could find an indescribable relation of that picture to what was being discussed that day. I took a turn to describe the picture to the class.

The picture was that of a chessboard with the white pawns arranged in a line. The most interesting part was the shadow cast by the pawns. All the pawns, except one, had their usual shadow cast that was pretty much informative of their shape and their spatial arrangement. But, there was one pawn, in between, that had the shadow cast of the King chess piece!

Not everyone was able to visualize what I was trying to communicate. Therefore, I requested to project the image on the screen. And the picture below popped up on the projector screen.

This picture actually speaks volumes about a typical style of leadership which is in fact very essential in this competitive world. Moreover, this picture was able to garner lots of comments and discussions to make the class even more interesting.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority,” Ken Blanchard said. This picture is actually a true disposition of the above quote. Leadership doesn’t merely mean sitting in the corner office, but a leader is one who remains as a part of the team and yet influences everyone. Moreover, there are opportunities to lead every day, whether one holds a formal leadership position or not.

Many of my friends opined that this picture suggests that a leader’s actions should subtly set the tone for what is appropriate in the workplace, instead of focusing on holding his reins tight. He or she should be someone who is a part of the team and yet someone who sets an example, practices healthy friendship, empowers others and balances the mission with his or her role on the team.

A few opined, this picture suggested that a leader should exhibit actions that he or she wants the team to emulate. The best way to encourage these specific actions i  to correctly and precisely demonstrate these behaviours himself or herself. He or she should openly acknowledge the good deeds of others and criticize privately.
There were several such interesting topics for discussion even before this class. But I feel, this particular class had a special impact on my friends. In some corner of my heart, I felt I will get to see many real leaders from amongst my friends, leading companies, and most importantly, leading people. And that day, I noticed the brightest smile of the Prof, while he left the class!

I would like to work for Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd. (ABFRL):

Being a person, who enjoys spending time in a mall, I have developed a tremendous passion for the retail sector. Whether it’s working with people, visual design, promoting a product– the retail sector has enough room for creativity with ample opportunity for growth. So, what can be better than ABFRL, for me?

As Mr. Birla said, the company focuses on staying not just contemporary but, ahead of the curve, the company’s diversity of brands and tremendous growth definitely lures me. The company’s focus on constantly tracking the megatrends and imbibing them is another reason why I want to be in ABFRL.

This article is written by Prabhangshu Adhyapak – Class of 2019

IIM Trichy Placement Team

This is IIM Trichy's official Placement handle on InsideIIM.