Saturday, December 17, 2016

Slice of Work #10 — 'Stand up': A Lesson in Leadership

I thought I was going to lose my job. It was early in my career and I was the Administration Officer of an MNC in the heart of then, Bihar. I was responsible for guest houses and the Transport. No Uber, Olas or tourist taxis then. We had to make do with company owned cars. The nearest towns were two hours away. And each time a company car went to either Dhanbad or Ranchi, it came back faithfully to the garage for repairs, owed much to the wonderful state of our roads.

We had all of five cars in this explosives factory and all of them were in the sick bay. An officer had requisitioned a car and I explained that no cars were available. He was upset and said that production was at stake and that I was responsible ! I was stressed out. What was I to do? I had no cars to give him. The situation was grim. As expected, the General Manager of the factory called me to his room. It was a long walk to his office. This was the second time that this had happened under my watch.

As soon as I walked in he started to pound me without giving me a chance to explain. He would not relent. I was in a daze. The room started to look large and I was weak in my knees as he went on his tirade Suddenly the door opened without a warning and my boss barged into the room and physically stood in front of me blocking me off from the GM and said – ‘While the lad is responsible, I am accountable for this failure. What can he do when all the cars are worn out? I should have budgeted for new cars. If anything, ask me, not him.’ He then turned to me and asked me to leave the room. I did not wait, I ran.

My boss returned to his room in some time. Spoke nothing other than to say that it was all taken care of. He had turned in his own personal car for the job. And patted me on my back and said that he should have given him a heads up. My anxieties fizzled in that moment, and I was teary eyed. Much later, I would realize that I had had the experience of what true leadership meant – to ‘stand up’ for your team member in the hour of need. It was easy for him to throw me under the bus, but he didn’t. I have never forgotten Capt. Arvind Nautiyal. Thank you Captain for giving me a great lesson in leadership – To Stand Up.

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