My all-time favourite book is Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace, by Ricardo Semler. It is a book ahead of its time, about a 21-year-old guy who took over a company from his autocratic father and ran it in a more inclusive style. That is my management style.
Another book I like is Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. I was the executive assistant to Gerhard Oswald, board member, SAP, for two years. I had read this book before this period, I couldn’t make sense of it, but when I reread it later, I could. He would always have the big picture, yet manage to pay attention to detail. As Thomas Edison said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.”
I really liked Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround, by Louis V. Gerstner Jr. IBM was a 400,000 employee company at that time. Gerstner was an outsider who had to bring about a turnaround. I identify with the book. I was MD of a small 500-person office and then MD for SAP Labs, India. Every decision I take has an impact on 5,000 people. I built a 100-day plan from this book. Your first 100 days define your leadership style, so it is important to get it right.
(This story appears in the 27 August, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)