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7 Questions with Madana Kumar
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7 Questions with Madana Kumar
Name: Dr. Madana Kumar, PhD
Current title: Vice President and Global Head: Leadership Development
Current organisation: UST
Dr. Madana Kumar, PhD, is the Servant Leadership Evangelist and leads the Leadership development function at UST. A veteran in L&D field with several awards like CLO of the Year, Global CLO of the year, Talent Development Champion of the year, Several Brandon Hall awards, ATD Awards, Learning Elite Listings etc. Madana is recognized as a Thought Leader, Strategist and Mentor, in the fields of Learning & Development and Leadership. He is a much sought-after speaker at several national and international conferences, Tier 1 Management Institutes, and a writer in several national and international magazines on the Topics of Learning Strategy and Servant Leadership.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Finding the right balance between Employee Centricity and Business Results
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I just followed my passion. When one follows ones passion, it results in excellence. That excellence gets you notice from the concerned. But success comes when you are able to focus all your expertise and abilities to help others grow and succeed. When your team grows, it adds immense value to the organisation. Your own growth them becomes a bye-product of that.
In summary, three words/ phrases. Passion. Excellence. Helping Others Grow and Succeed
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
There is one philosophy that drives my day. "Be prepared to be fired from your job today". This helps me in taking risks. This helps me in doing the best I can do to solve some real problem that an end customer is facing. This keeps me away from procrastinating. This makes me secure and hence away from office politics and stuff like that and helps me focus on things that need to be done for organisation success.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Leadership is not about you. It is about others. Put others first. Employees , customers, other stakeholders. You will automatically be successful if you do that. This is what I call the Life of Significance. So instead of chasing success (which is for oneself, which gives fleeting happiness ) I pursue significance and focus on adding value to others with what I have.
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?
Servant Leadership in Action by Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell. This showed me that the concept of Servant Leadership is not just theoretical, but can be applied and drive success of even wall-street driven organisations.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
By investing in building a right culture. This culture has to embrace all aspects of the organisation at all levels. Isolated efforts at building leadership capacity will not work. Capable leaders emerge when organisations invest in an employee centric culture.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
Often we are tempted to the big-bang type of change management. My experience has shown me that the stealth mode of change leadership is what can be sustained. So when I was given the mandate to create a Servant Leadership culture within the company, I did not go with the big-bang approach. I worked with few interested groups, created success stories, communicated those success stories and thus got buy-in from several other groups. Today this is a powerful movement within the organisation because of that change management strategy.