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7 Questions with Arun Bhaskarrao Joshi
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7 Questions with Arun Bhaskarrao Joshi
Name: Arun Bhaskarrao Joshi
Current title: Founder
Current organisation: Apohan Corporate Consultants Private Limited
An M&A advisor with professional experience of 22 years across industries, sectors, projects, geographies in the reputed companies in India.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Motivating & energizing people.
All stakeholders & especially employees always see everything as a transaction where the company is counterparty. To switch off this "business mode" is very difficult. Any extra work, extra thinking is a donation by the employee to his employer & by default the employees choose not to do any such donation. The CEO is a man of many limitations including knowledge, communication, skills, leadership & this is where employees are supposed to donate more voluntarily.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
If one calculates "scope & salary" one will always remain as a junior employee. One has to know all the aspects of one's current role & think for general well being of all the stakeholders in your ecosystem. This needs more time & energy than what you are paid for. I never looked at my salary, always tried to own the cause of the organization. This made me CEO.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I try to keep new, random, haphazard, urgent work at the minimum. I have WhatsApp groups of internal & external stakeholders on which we share all developments. I plan a lot to avoid cost of errors. I train my people a lot. I do not writing work in car. I never drive & use travel time as work time. I do all external communications before I do internal work to mobilize that work first. I have an elaborate Excel sheet where every small independent work is written with 20-30 related aspects in a database format. I don't do much time planning as you come to know the time need of a thing once you enter that work; it's unfair to allocate a rigid time from before. I listen Indian classical music before I sleep which connects me with the divinity of the universe. I don't believe life is structured & I do expect/love surprises/novelty of every day.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Followership is more important than leadership - this is the lesson. The word CEO is different from the word leader. I may not be a leader. I must be a follower of those who are leaders in their areas. The word leader is more to satisfy one's craving for importance, ego. It has no utility in the company. You just don't need any leader or leadership to make a great company. You need skills, knowledge, processes, study, discussions, plans, communications, tools, professionalism, systems, decision making, etc. All of this is typically contributed by people who are not CEOs. That is real leadership. A leader is needed to promote a social or political cause & not to elevate a company. The people in the corporate world are already motivated, inspired & also have a great personal interest in following the system. They won't listen to the CEO if they are not paid. It is a sin to call oneself a leader when people are working on a commercial basis. Hence, if you still ask me to cite a leadership lesson, I would say, create a framework for all good followers including yourself.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I used to consider, before I did my MBA, that stock markets, financial markets, and markets per say are places of gamble. I discussed this opinion with a broker of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) & he asked me to read a book. I don't know the name of the book but mentioned in its introduction that "a stock exchange is a temple of an economy". That sentence made my outlook change. Then I decided to change the equity markets in India significantly.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Job description, KRA, performance linked incentives, education, skills, etc don't create leaders. People oriented to achieve the targets also don't create leaders. People who think they are leaders also don't create leaders. There should be a collective ownership of the cause of the company by the employees, directors, promoters, shareholders, KMPs, suppliers, clients, financers, etc. And for that, a company should have a cause in the first place. Material aggrandizement of shareholders leveraging personal sweat, personal subsistence can't be a motivation. It has to be a cause for the society, nation or humanity. Even if the leadership is poor, the cause can motivate the employees directly; just the way even if the president of the US is poor, the patriotism doesn't recede. It's not the CEO, but any random person in the company can provide/give/assign a cause to the collective actions of a company. We should act as the trustees of His cause than as owners & controllers of personal/corporate property.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I see that 9000 suicides in India per year where the suicide note directly mentions "business stress" as the reason of suicide. I have seen that the technocrat businessmen who are excellent at making & selling with visibility of profit are failing in business. Why? Because they are not chartered accountants, company secretaries, business lawyers, bankers, investment bankers, insolvency professionals, MBAs, etc. I have seen around 900 such stories of financial stress, stagnation, personal sufferings. I can write a very big book on that. But, if we can simplify the money/capital/financial markets, allow capital-starved businesses & savers to come together, we can solve many problems of humanity.