Triumph of entrepreneurship
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Ratan Tata is leaving a legacy which is comparable to that left behind by some of his predecessors. That is precisely what is expected of him, and he can hang up his boots, satisfied with his performance. It is not always that we find corporate leaders like Tata who have weathered storms while continuing to contribute immensely to the challenges of institution-building over two decades. They become legends. Tata has transformed a relatively smaller group that he had inherited, quietly but with determination into a much larger and respectable empire in the world.
He took charge of a family-controlled but professionally-managed group under difficult circumstances. In fact, he was not groomed to step into the larger-than-life size shoes of his predecessor JRD Tata. The process of building a legacy began then. He had the challenge of evolving a new growth vision while fighting disruptive forces. In fact, his success at consolidating his position organisationally must be viewed as the cradle where he learnt the art of building an empire.
The circumstances under which Tata took charge of the reins of the group were hostile. While he inherited the empire, the kingdoms were under the control of rebellious kings who not did not approve of him but, in fact, went to the extent of trying to dethrone him. This is where his faith in trusteeship and determination to win the cause comes out clearly. As a trustee of the wealth of the Tatas, he had to take charge and lead from the front. He did that successfully, and made the institution stronger.
A leader's ability to inspire comes not only from the techno-managerial capabilities that he exhibits, but also the sincerity with which he undertakes the challenges and leads. Tata has proven time and again that he believes in the fundamental strengths of the Tata Group. The group has always believed in values such as compassion for all stakeholders. He continued to practice the values of the organisation that he was destined to lead. Even at the time of finding a successor, he did not go ahead and announce a hand-picked successor. He wanted to ensure that the person who was stepping into the chair that he was going to vacate had the capabilities to take the organisation to newer heights. The future had to be in safe hands.
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