In his third book, Shiv Shivakumar of the Aditya Birla group, talks about how to manage one’s life and career in a fast-changing world
Shiv Shivakumar’s third book, The Art of Management, with a foreword by Sachin Tendulkar and published by Penguin Random House is just out. Shiv has distilled the whole discipline of management to three elements: managing yourself, managing your team and managing your business.
The big difference from the past, he says, is that all the three elements are an individual’s responsibility and not an organisation’s. He has taken a different tack in this book by interviewing several people from various fields who touch upon these three elements with the intention that the various professionals offer learnings from their own careers.
In this interview, Shiv explains his rationale for this book and the approach he has chosen to take in its writing.
In your book, you say that the whole discipline of management is distilled to three elements: Managing yourself, your team and managing your business. What about elements like managing media (and not just traditional media but social too), managing stakeholders, the environment and so on, aren’t they important too?
Yes, managing reputation is a 24 by 7, day in-day out issue now. In the past we only had corporate brands as spokespeople, today each individual is a brand in her/her own right and this is discussed by Poonam Kaul in the reputation section of managing a business.
The real difference today is that we see businesses have dependent growth models vs independent growth models of the past. You need to be part of an ecosystem for growth and you cannot do it alone. Regulation was important and will always be important.
From your experience why do you say that these are the three most important elements?
Managing yourself is the foundation of everything. Talent alone does not guarantee success. We see so many talented professionals, sportspeople and politicians/members of government derail themselves because they could not stay disciplined or could not manage the marathon.
After you manage yourself, you are part of a team, either as a contributor or as a leader. So, one must learn how to handle bosses, subordinates and peer groups. Many organisations have a matrix structure and handling responsibility and accountability with authority is something that’s a new skill for many managers.
If you can manage yourself well, then you can manage your team well and also your business. I have not seen anyone who is good at managing himself/herself fail at managing a team and the business.
In managing a business or enterprise or institution, one needs to think of all the stakeholders and how they view your role and whether you bring value to the ecosystem.
Why have you chosen to write your book in this fashion with so many different interviews? What do each of these interviews bring to the table / book?
I could have written the whole thing myself but it would have been boring and it would lack the richness of views and the diversity of views. Having an alternate point of view is important for learning and hence I chose very different people from many disciplines to give us the benefit of their journey and wisdom.
And, how did you choose the people you have interviewed and why? They seem to be an eclectic and fairly disparate mix of interviewees!
I chose the amazingly talented people on some simple ground rules:
Their ability to be candid; they were self-confident of themselves and their achievements and had nothing to prove by being in the book; they gave width and depth to the book in terms of sectors and experiences; a good mix of women, there are nine outstanding women leaders in the group; a range of time frames — radio, culinary, overnight delivery are all daily market share businesses while, portfolio investing, mobile phones, steel are all mid to long term sectors. In a fast-changing world, how do people manage today and plan for tomorrow is a consistent theme across interviews.
Is managing a business today far more complex today than say 15-20 years ago when you were managing the Nokia business?
Yes, managing a business today is much more challenging than it was even 10 years ago. The demands on time, the demands on quality and the demands on customer experience are at a very different level.
And, how have things changed in a post-Covid world vis-a-vis the workforce; how are managements keeping teams motivated and energised in a mainly WFH or hybrid work model scenario?
I think work from home tests the following about leaders:
Their ability to be fair and judge impact of people whether they are working from home or from office; their ability to be inclusive; their ability to communicate succinctly and involve people on web calls; their ability to manage time especially on web calls; building digital business models; constant learning and upgradation of skills in the organisation; the elements of phygital models in his/her business and how value is created.