Leadership_ GK PIllai, former CMD, HEC: action speaks louder and that was GK Pillai.
On 3.1.2012 I saw a small hording at the MTI, SAIL, Ranchi to welcome Mr. GK Pillai who has just retired as the CMD of the HEC and he was to deliver a lecture there on the leadership in the corporate world.
Ihad talked him on 25.3.2011 when we were guests with Union Minister Subodhkant Sahai in a Maihtili meeting where he had spoken before me and later I had mentioned some points about Kerala too and had later sent him by email some matters on Kerala I had written .
He is a respected name in Ranchi because he made HEC viable which people used to think could be closed any day. As he had to speak and probably last time at Ranchi and in my colony I decided that I would surely listen to him. Any lecture gives message but the action speaks louder and that was GK Pillai. Swami Vivekananda had said it is the personality which has two thirds effects and lecture by any person only a miniscule rest.
Pillai has worked and hence, his words have an effect.
He had delivered talks on leadership and in the MTI he meant to give message to middle level leaders mostly(though there were directors of MECON and EDs of the SAIL whom I knew because I work as a doctor in the same company).
Pillai repeated age old coinage,’ Managers think right and Leaders do right thing.
He emphasized that leadership an ability to attract and convince people.
He said that we need a leader for the common goal.
He scanned through different theories of leadership- trait, evolution etc.
He said that a wrong notion is that ‘he/she ‘only’ can do and others cannot. Robin Sharma was referred for his ‘Leadership without a title’.
Trust and confidence should be in a leader.
He should have an effective communication- how they contribute? He should share information to employees.
He said that in 2007 people thought the HEC would be closed-people were anxious and might have undue speculation so he shared information as soon as he returned from Delhi for every events.
A leader should be technically efficient and should take responsibility
He ?she should also take care of personal well being of employees the the tried to take informally going to some or other s; house without talking on official things.
The big problem was low moral of HEC employees who were on 1992 salary structure.(Then Chairman was getting 13,000 Rs. Only and he commented SAIL people must not be remembering their that scale (saving many revisions thereafter).
He said that management skills advice team work, no person but team work.
For HEC’s turnaround he said it was always in loss except 1976, 1977 & 1988.
He had spent 21 years in Kerala and some times in Chennai before coming to this unknown place for him.
HEC was established on 30.12.1958 and started production since 1964.
He found that there was frequent changes of its CEOs- 21 (average time spent 2.2 years as if a stop-over to other company.
No painting was done in 25 years.
He decided to identify the most critical problem and solve that.
He prioritized that company should be out of red; be profitable.
Even shopkeepers used to neglect its workers for petty loans.Challenges were before- technologically obsolete machnes were there, pathetic state of the plants, acute fund crisis.
He started showing picture of changing mindset of an old eagle who has to go to a high hill and loose its beaks and feathers for anywhere one at the age of 40s if it wants to live till 70.
People are usually bonded with traditions- they even do not want to change their rooms or chairs or tables.
Revival is possible, yet, if determined.
He found that average age of HEC people was 55 years.
He had no money and so he invited Chinmay Sadhus and Ramkrishna Mission Sadhus who did not expect much like managerial teams to open workers’ mind that darkness does not prevail indefinitely.
He started some programmes where wives were called on third or fourth day who used to coax thir husbands , stimulate them for earning profit. In fact they were happy that their husbands afterwards used to spend 8 hours in factory who used to go and return anytime previously.
He said that any leader should share the larger picture of the future of the company.- everybody should know what is happening in the company.
He focused on customer zone which was too much neglected- people did not go out as the TA,DA was low. He enthused them to go on tour who will not loose on that account though cannot make also.
He himself chose difficult places like Singrauli, Ramgundam , Bhilai than going to Mumbai or Kolkata. People welcomes him as he was the CMD, criticized him as HEC did not deliver but accepted that if any item could not be procured anywhere it was the HEC which could.
He focused on delivery. From 4.41 it rose to 24.6 despite marked decrease in manpower.
From 159 crore it went to 681 crores while workforce reduced to 2800 from 25000.
And it was done by the same set of people and machine!
Because it was the TEAM SPIRIT which worked.
He replaced sand-filled time punch machine despite protests that it would incur 5 crores!
Women of the colony helped. Anger nullified.
So, it was a success based on middle management who can make or mar any company; never top management mattered.
One cam make positive to more positive. Criticism of weakness can never improve him/her.
Making negative to positive is utmost difficult. So learn to appreciate.
Mr Pillai was given a standing ovation.
He said now ‘former’ CMD looks a bit abnormal to him.
When he asked for questions I probably (only true non-technical) asked about the news reports of the day that the HEC was again going in reds. (In fact when that news was shown to me in the afternoon, I was a bit worried that the company, the jewel of country, not only the state where I work will again be doomed..). Probably I should not have been blunt and would have appreciated him first before putting the question but I always remain specific in putting question and GK Pillai replied that it was newspapers’ estimation but he could reach 811 crore though he wished to reach 1000 crores.
I feel 81.1% target achievement is grade A ,particularly for a sick company.
I also feel that doing better from good has no much appreciation value than making good from a a bad(in fact HEC had the worst condition), of course Minister Subodhkant Sahay being lad of the township too helped from Government side but GKP’s work was pivotal. He took up the challenge and performed. I would have liked his further extension but any person should know when to retreat and retreating at height is often giving satisfaction (and also others to work steadfastly).
In a question he replied that so far no trainee of the HEC had been its MD and he hoped that some time some one from the present lot would be.
In other words he replied that the HEC was making leaders.
He also replied other that leaders learn more from other leader group than followers.
In a personal question he replied that seeing Brigadier BJ Sahney he had decided that to become CEO somewhere and hence he left his better paid work( in his near nativity).
He added that when he was young somebody had told him that in any company only two mattered- those who sell and those who produce and even them a seller had more value but in his life he learnt that in between were not errands as was decribed to him but the men- the human resource is most valuable – seller may be greater than maker but human is even greater than him/her.
He also share some of his experiences of other company under him the HMT which had lost its charm in recent past where too he must have been successful(which was not presented in the talk).
We had a small talk on snacks. GKP will soon go to his native Palkkad (where I had only one night stay on 16.1.2002 while coming back from the darshan of Makrjyoti at Sabrimaa; GKP had probably 14 visits of that great pilgrim) though I had 11 visits of Kerala and have been connected with the state named keralam , a Malyalam word for coconut whose greenery will mesmerize you particularly from the top of the Lord Shnkara’s village Kaldi’s temple or rivers anywhere. That is land of god- made by chiseling of the hills by Lord Parsuram. Where in Oanm every year visits King Bali who with a sanklap a to give three steps land to Lord Vamana despite protest from his Guru Shukracharya, the gigantic Vishnu was asked by him , to have his third step on his head and then started Laxmi’s appeal to Bali after tying Rakhi to Bali making him Her brother to release the Jagadpati Vishnu which is echoed in following mantra of Raksha bandhana-
“Yen Baddho Bali raja, Danvendrao mahabalah
Tenatwam Pratibadhnami, raksho Machal, Machalah.”
GKP is going to his land, we pray him well. Mrs. Menon, a retired teacher from our colony is there who had been a source to Chinmay children.
I wish GKP now starts his second inning of social work which he could not do in busy years.
He had joked that in Bihar-Jharlkhand people marry early and lost drive by 59 when their children are married and settled in job- southern marry late- GKP’s daughter is still a student.
When the lone lady manger expressed her relations with MECON, I quipped Ranchi was first known for mental asylum then for HEC only and it was in fact a precious gem in national treasure.
Well it will give him a chance to work again for the society I wish as many legendary persons had done transforming the life of thousands.
I wish and pray a good life to a great corporate leader!
I feel his dedication is worth emulating for transforming many ills of the many pockets of the country not only in the corporate world. He is a sober simple person who has been near to anyone whoever came in his contact and left an indelible imprint with his smiles on a determined working man behind the machine of his body.
I wish he visits many more institutions and enthuse people to achieve better and a moving GKP would be healthier than a static retired man.