Interview in Hindu Business Line with the author of “Lead to Regenerate”

Hindu Business Line, March 5, 2013, Hemant Karandikar’s interview by Vinay Kamath ( Link to the original article  )

Leaders are self made. Anyone can improve leadership skills. One may be born with intellect or personality, but one has to use it, work on it and keep improving.

 Can one seek out the leader within, without the help of coaches, books or programmes? Pune-based Hemant Karandikar, an IIT Bombay alumnus and business strategy specialist, has written a workbook based on a framework of what he calls regenerative leadership. This uses self-generating and self-propagating ideas and values that an individual, be it a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or a mid-level manager, can apply himself. The concept, he says, is based on reflection and self-discovery. Designed and laid out by Falguni Gokhale of Design Directions, the book probes you to think, reflect and pen down your thoughts on how one would react to different situations.
hemant holding book 1

Why do you call it regenerative leadership? How do you define it?

I use the term ‘Regenerative Leadership’ to convey an important benefit of this development framework — it helps you to regenerate your time, talent, and resources. It helps you to regenerate your organisation. The ‘Regenerative Leadership’ achieves more from less, it embraces changes before they threaten existence, and it sets the organisation on to the virtuous loop of higher and higher performance.

Why did you adopt this workbook approach?

I have always believed that knowing something is important only if I can apply it. There are a large number of books on leadership. Many articles and research papers regularly appear on the subject. We know that leaders think differently. Unfortunately, most of the books focus on experiences of others (case studies) alone and on ‘prescribing’ things. Most leadership development programmes also take the same prescriptive approach. There is a lot to read but little to practice. To change your thinking you need practice and improvisation in your own area of work.

I took this workbook approach to offer a practical, experiential, and a directly useful program and to make leadership learning more accessible.

Who do you think will benefit from this approach as it requires some degree of meticulousness? At what level of people in an organisation can use this approach?

Anyone who has a strong desire to improve her or his leadership skills and who is willing to commit to personal thinking efforts can benefit from this book. The book will benefit leaders at all levels — CEOs, business heads, intrapreneurs, functional or operational heads, departmental heads, middle-level managers, group or team leaders, and experts. Entrepreneurs, business owners, and those working in social organisations will find this programme book valuable. This book is suitable for business school students. Anyone who is preparing to take up any of the above roles for career advancement will find this book useful.

Are leaders born or made? I mean you can go through executive coaches, leadership courses at Harvard, workbooks et al and yet be a lousy leader.

Leaders are self made. Anyone can improve leadership skills further. One may be born with intellect, personality, or inheritance, but one has to use it, work on it, and keep improving. We all take on responsibilities, therefore, we all lead.

Improving leadership skills is like improving any other skill — driving, running, cooking etc. One needs to have passion for it and one needs to practice correct techniques. A few people manage to improve skills through experience without direct help. For all the rest, intentional practice of good techniques helps. Coaching helps even further.

Yes, it is possible to be a lousy leader despite ‘going through’ various programmes, if someone lacks willingness to learn and sincerity to take efforts. No programme can help such people.

Have you measured or gauged how somebody has emerged as a ‘regenerative leader’ after he has gone through this workbook?

My ‘Regenerative Leadership’ programmes have a workout for mapping leadership skills’ baseline. I have used this to gauge changes in leadership skills of people — those people who worked with me in the company I headed during 1998-2001 and those people who worked with my client companies during my consulting work. As people improve their leadership skills they start spending more time in doing things that help regeneration, for example, innovation, improving processes, preventing rework, shared learning and so on. Anyone using the book can use this workout to find their own starting line. After one has worked through the book and implemented one’s action points one can see the changed leadership baseline. One will notice a tangible improvement.


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