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Great people managers: Good leaders make great businesses

When seniors lead with empathy and inspiration, business results are delivered as a byproduct

Published: Jan 17, 2022 12:20:32 PM IST
Updated: Jan 17, 2022 04:25:06 PM IST

Great people managers: Good leaders make great businessesGreat leaders create self-belief in their team
Illustration: Sameer Pawar

Greatness in business results is achieved through greatness in people management. Some great leaders across India understand that and have exemplified the same in the new normal. Great Manager Institute® has evaluated them to identify the best in India, through its study, the Great People Manager Study, the largest of its kind, the results of which are published in Forbes India.

 The process involved registrations of 10,273 managers (including self-nominations) from 4,189 organisations, spanning all sectors. Evaluation was done for about 18 months starting April 2020, thus being able to assess and analyse greatness in leadership during one of the worst crises ever faced by humankind. Here are some key insights:

Great leaders create self-belief in their team: One of the leaders on the list challenges her team members to go beyond their limits, making HR learn IT, nurturing their career in the process. Her team has shown zero attrition in the last seven years, and all of them have grown to become celebrated leaders. This is one example of what sets a great people manager apart. Sometimes, when the focus is on the career path of their team members, business results are delivered almost as a byproduct.

Fun and celebrations lead to inspiration:
The behaviour area where the top 100 leaders score the maximum, in comparison to the other leaders, is in their ability to inspire with fun and celebrations. This is a deviation from the scores of last years, showing the pandemic has set apart those leaders, who can celebrate in tough times. One leader in the top 100 list increased the hours meant for fun-based learning and saw business results go up.

Women leadership connects better:
The women leaders in the top 100 show a higher score in the core behavior area of Connect (part of the Connect, Develop, Inspire framework) than their male counterparts, showing that they build a deeper personal relationship with their team. One of the leaders in the list conducts voluntary sessions with her team to deal with their personal challenges through wisdom derived from her life experiences. This helps her build a motivated Gen Z workforce.

 This year, the list of top 100 comprises 20 percent women, with 31 percent coming from the IT/ITeS/software industry. The digital revolution is reflecting in not only the business numbers of the software industry but also in the growth of its leadership. There are managers at all levels, junior to CXO, as part of this list.

 People management has become key to success in career and business. An evaluation of the anatomy of India’s greatest leaders in people management shows they achieve tangible business results, while building deep connections with their team members, focusing on their development, and inspiring them towards greatness. This is what sets the consistent high performers apart.

 Ashwin Srivastava is the co-founder and Ojas Misra is a marketing analyst at Great Manager Institute.


In its third year of the Great People Manager Study, Great Manager Institute followed a rigorous four-layer process to arrive at the final list of 100 greatest people leaders in the country. The process involved feedback from various stakeholders associated with the manager, evaluation of their practices that make them special, and reputation checks, involving technology-driven methods powered by surveys and quantitative evaluation tools.

As the first layer, a survey is sent out to the stakeholders who the nominated managers directly influence through their work. Based on it, selected managers, who score above a particular threshold, receive a Certificate of Merit and move to the next round. This survey is based on the Connect, Develop, Inspire framework created by Great Manager Institute, and collects both qualitative and quantitative responses. Qualitative responses are quantified using our AI-powered tool called Opinion Behavior Mapping and Analytics Tool.

As the second layer, the managers are required to share a list of practices they conduct with their team, and the tangible and intangible impact these practices have on the teams and the organisation. These practices are then evaluated through a mechanism of binary rating against set parameters. Uniqueness, relevance and impact of the practices are taken into consideration.

The scores from the first layer and second layer are normalised and combined with 2/3rd weight to first layer score and 1/3rd to second layer score. The final scores are then used to select the managers for the next round.

The third and final layer of evaluation include organisation permissions and reputation checks, along with various manual audits for any flagged cases. Based on the same, the final 100 list of managers is derived, which is then sent to Forbes India for publication. Throughout the next years, these leaders will be honoured for their contributions to building a people-centric India that focuses on achieving sustainable business results.

The organisations whose people managerial effectiveness score—score based on grand mean of percentage positive scores by all employees—crossed the industry benchmark, and had more than 10 percent of their assessed managers receive Certificate of Merit, also receive Certification as Companies with Great People Managers.

Suresh Surana & Associates LLP is the audit partner of the study

Great people managers: Good leaders make great businesses

Great people managers: Good leaders make great businesses

(This story appears in the 28 January, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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