Even as Sandeep Rai was settling down in his new assignment as General Manager, many well-meaning people in the company came calling, together or individually, assuring him all help and offering a lot of information about the company’s history as well as on certain people and their methods. The moment the talk turned to persons, Sandeep Rai stopped them rather curtly. “I don’t discuss persons. If you have any information about the production process or related issues, I will welcome it, but I would hear no word about persons. I will make my own assessment,” he added.
That halted a major area at the workplace — loose talk. In a few weeks, Sandeep Rai started meeting more and more people in the company and interacted with them at lunch or over coffee. He also studied the way employees worked and made mental notes of certain peculiarities of individuals. That helped him make his own assessment about many people. That also helped Sandeep Rai to decide how to tackle certain issues related to day-to-day management.
Sandeep Rai’s real strength came from his style of refusing to indulge in loose talk. He never discussed persons, and insisted upon talking about issues. If he ever happened to discuss actions of a person on the staff, he made it a point to call that person over to join the discussions. That eliminated any back-stabbing which may be quite rampant in many an organisation. That also sent the right message through the multi-layered workforce at the company, that Sandeep Rai would not allow anybody to take him for a ride, take him for granted.
On the surface, this appears an easy task to achieve. However, its implementation depends upon how firm a manager or leader can be. Sandeep Rai’s special quality was his polite firmness. He never stopped smiling, but he never allowed anyone to take an undue advantage of his softness. In other words, Sandeep Rai’s example came as a good leadership lesson for anybody at any level.
The practical effect of this approach was visible not just in the company premises but also in hard numbers at the end of the first financial year after Sandeep Rai joined as General Manager. The statistics looked stabilised after a gap of a few years, and the red got replaced with blue writing in the balance sheet. Nothing happens all of a sudden and on its own. “We have to make things happen in a conscious manner,” Sandeep rai told a colleague who wondered how things were improving all by themselves.
Yet, Sandeep Rai was not boasting. He was only stating a reality that he and other had made to happen.
It is common experience that a lot of loose talk goes on in organisations, depriving them of a united workforce. Loose talk has the acidic capacity to spoil the organisational fabric, and must be avoided at all costs. Yet, unfortunately, many managers fall prey to the temptation of indulging in gossip that invariably leads to spoiling of the atmosphere. If the leader rises above the temptation and avoids loose talk, then he ensures that nobody takes him for granted. But if he indulges in loose talk, the outcome is clear — people take him for granted, twist the tales, and weave stories that are hardly true. That often leads to loosening of the leader’s grip on the organisation.