Leadership, Balance and Sustainability
The increasing popularity of the Triple P concept (Planet, People and Profit) fills us with hope that the corporate world is moving in the right direction and is symbolic of holistic corporate growth in the future.. The corporate world has become symbolic of never ending greed. Gandhi rightly said that there is enough in the world for everyone’s need but not enough for a single man’s greed.
Two classic examples of leadership with balance, grace and sustainability at its core are Ratan Tata (Taj Terror attack case) and Amber Chand (USA). In fact, personally I was so overwhelmed by the Taj terror attack case that I decided to teach it as a case study to my students (and warned them not to cry, at least in the classroom). Amber Chand, born to Indian parents in Uganda, is a superb example of rising from the ashes like a Phoenix and is well known for her foundation which supports international artisans in conflict zones. In a way both the cases are related with conflict and supporting people post-conflict especially the weaker sections of society.
Spirituality is essentially holistic in nature though one may discover the balance by connecting to the soul. In my opinion anything which is holistic is spiritual, be it holistic living, holistic education, personal branding or Triple P philosophy. Let us take a look at some of the gestures of Ratan Tata in the Taj case.
Relief and assistance was not only given to employees at the hotel but was extended to all those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the pan shop owners. During the time the hotel was closed for repairs, not only the salaries were sent home but employee outreach centers were opened where all help, food, water, sanitation, first aid and counseling was provided. Ratan Tata personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who were injured or killed and asked the families and dependents as to what support they desired.
What is unique and respectable is that even the other people, the railway employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with Tatas were covered by compensation. A 4 year old granddaughter of a vendor who got 4 bullets was taken to Bombay hospital and several lacs were spent by the Tatas on her. New hand carts were provided to several vendors. Tata also decided to take responsibility of life education of 46 children of the victims of the terror. Senior managers including Ratan Tata were visiting one funeral after another over the 3 days after the attack. What a heart-rending story and what an inspiring leadership?
Amber Chand saw the meteoric rise of her organization Eziba and a dramatic fall after few years. She says, “Without the anchor of my spiritual practice, I could not have weathered this personal Tsunami. For at some level I knew that Eziba’s meteoric rise and fall were part of a larger archetypal story. That there were to be many lessons learned and that somehow I would find my way guided by a sense of profound trust in life and the truth of who I am and what I believe in.” She adds, “I am grateful to Eziba for teaching me important lessons and in illuminating for me that one can indeed create successful businesses that are spiritually inspired-only when this becomes one’s singular mission and clear intent. I have no doubt that armed with patience, trust, focused clear effort and humility; “The Amber Chand Collection” will grow successfully.”
The company was named Eziba because of the word Ziba which means beautiful in Persian and being an e-commerce company the e was added. Amber was the nurturing mother in the company who constantly attempted to be reassuring, loving and a nurturing spirit. She personally spoke to unhappy customers and gave her direct line number to them in case they had a complaint or issue in future. The customers would get delighted and amazed that a co-founder of the company is concerned enough to give them a call. The company tried to achieve a delicate balance between creating global products and at the same time being authentic to the traditions of artisans.
Amber believes the success could be measured by the three factors; the degree with which people are impacted internally and externally, the degree to which the organization acted as a steward of the planet and the degree to which the organization was profitable. But the need to give high returns to the venture capitalists and desire for stupendous growth overtook the other objectives of the company and the decision was taken to liquidate Eziba. But Amber Chand was not the one to accept defeat and created another foundation for similar purposes but on non-profit lines this time.
In any case, she did not run away from her responsibility of being a part of a failed team though she was not the part of some of the decisions which led to the fall. She behaved like a mother who wanted to protect her child till the last moment. She says, “Wee I to have walked away, I never would have forgiven myself.” She adds, “To me in order to be successful I must embrace all three aspects of mind, body and spirit. My spiritual theme of God being tapestry of compassion, balance, grace and friendliness provides me with the inner guidance for what I do and how I do it.”