Expert Excerpt at LIBA #4: Be a Leader by Dr. Santhosh Babu

The Beyond Management Initiative session held on 16th August 2017 with Leadership” as its theme was privileged to host Dr. Santhosh Babu, IAS. He shared his insights on Leadership and how it is exercised in our government. Government offices are often ridden with people, red tape, meetings and telephone calls. However, panacea cannot be obtained from computerization. What we really need is transformative leadership. Transformative leadership is attained through communicating with people, understanding their grievances and providing solutions for them. A transformative leader is one who is a leader by design. He doesn’t limit himself within his sphere of influence and he has a vision for what the future holds in store for his people. Dr. Santhosh identified such a leader in Captain Edward J. Smith, captain of the Titanic, who helped his passengers get to safety at the risk of his own life.

The word Leadership can be abbreviated as follows, L for Listening, E for Empathy, A for Agenda, D for Direction, E for Ethics, R for Responsibility, S for Stupendous Hard work, H for Happiness, I for Inspiration and P for Passion all qualities that make up a transformative leader.

Dr. Santhosh Babu went on to talk about the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation, commonly referred to as ‘Poompuhar’, where he now serves as the Chairman & Managing Director. Poompuhar sells ethnic artifacts made by artisans. Poompuhar has completely digitised itself from noting its attendance to its repository to its billing system. It has also started selling their items on e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal. Poompuhar plans on reducing time by making use of 3D printing machines to produce larger scales of ethnic artifacts. The company made its highest ever profit of Rs.1.5 crores last year and also bagged the National e-Governance Silver award for the year 2016-2017. Poompuhar is now planning on having its first VR showroom. Chennai Airport, Ennore port, Southern Railway, Urban Haat and Craft Cafe to name a few are some of the places that have been redesigned by Poompuhar. These places look beautiful and also depict the rich and vibrant cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu. Dr. Santhosh attributes this success to innovation and digitisation for which he brings out the example of Estonia. Being a very small country, Estonia has grown to be one of the world’s digitally advanced societies. He deliberated on the point that urban opportunities should be made accessible in rural areas and more than people being able to see the government they should be able to feel it.

A satisfied customer makes a happy administrator. We should remember never to have a personal agenda in the workplace. It is best to think about now and not dwell too much into the past or worry too much about the future. Always place India first before anything else. He ended his speech on a very meaningful note by saying that the most important thing for a transformative leader is to love your people 24 x 7, irrespective of any barriers.