‘Human skills more important than high IQ to run organisation’

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SummaryThe title of R Gopalakrishnan's new book What the CEO Really Wants From You – The 4As of Managerial Success, a book on tips to be a good subordinate, comes as a surprise at a time when books on leadership and how to lead abound.

that defines you in your managerial life?

It defines not just me. None of us wants to lead a life that is reckless. The middle of the bell curve is the natural outcome of the way the human evolution happens. The surgeon in the emergency department will have a different approach than one who plans his operations.

You have started off with the story of Arup, an executive who is a brash and overtly aggressive.   However, at the end of the day, he is successful. Is his an example that subordinates can emulate?

I am not using Arup's story to illustrate what is right and what is wrong, but how we can still draw our lessons out of common things. Most of us think we need to have a hero. Although we do learn from even those far away from us, we learn much better from people whom we can reach and touch. I have learnt more from my father than from Gandhiji. That doesn't make Gandhiji a lesser person.

You have stated in your book that one needs to be a good subordinate first in order to become a good boss...

I have been doing an exercise in the Tata Management Training Centre. I ask people as to what they expect from their bosses. They have a long list—boss must be fair, must pay properly, give facilities to do work, and so on. Then I aggregate them into nine heads. Then I ask ‘What do you owe your boss?’ The list then is very small. There is an asymmetry in the relationship. The question to be asked is, are the subordinates fair?

You have illustrated that employees would prefer Mr Warm over Mr Clever as boss...

You need not have a high IQ to run an organisation. The human skills become more important. In cricket, the best captains are not necessarily the best batsmen.The quality of warmth that a leader requires comes out of an understanding of the irrationality of the human being.

How does a corporate keep its whistle-blowers' policy intact, yet encourage employees to keep the company's interest ahead of their own?

The

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