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Leadership Lessons from 2008 – Power of Inclusion

Posted on: 16 January '09

It’s a new year, and so many people love to say, “good riddance, 2008”; In my next few postings I would like to share with you what I have learnt in 2008.

Biggest lesson I learnt in 2008 is the power of inclusion. The emergence of Obama is a story of inclusion. Usually elections are fought on narrow lines, and most politicians forget they represent the entire country and not just those who voted for them. Obama has shown great courage, conviction, and 360 degree view of America while choosing key members of his team.

It is interesting that a man with such high sense of inclusion has his background rooted in three continents. Deep sense of inclusion probably brings with it other values. He showed respect for his opponents and their right to privacy, he resisted personal attacks even when he got the opportunity. What we see as a victory of social networking also emanates from Obama’s inclusive spirit. He did not depend on campaign funds from just a few; he included more than a million Americans in his cause – no wonder his victory became a cause for millions and not just one man’s aspiration. The more you include, the more you increase your chances of success. In a sense this is counter-intuitive. Isn’t success about exclusivity, isn’t success about one’s ability to exclude others from success?

OK, let’s take another example. The year gone by saw our Prime Minister consumed by one goal – of completing the 123 agreement with the US. This meant two things: one, it takes India into a nuclear future; two, it ushers in a new relationship with the US. For most of the history of independent India, the two largest democracies of the world have not been the best of allies even with the best of intentions – that past is now history, as we look forward to a new collaboration. From a different perspective, Dr Manmohan Singh’s presence in office for five years also comes from a spirit of inclusion – of the willingness to include different shades of people and perspectives, so you can meet the larger purpose.

We have seen how leaders of coalition governments without this spirit have not been able to last their full term.

Mindtree Blog Archives

Mindtree blog Archives are a collection of blogs by various authors who have independently contributed as thought leaders in the past. We may or may not be in a position to get the authors to respond to your comments.

  • Vijay Kumar NM

    You are absolutely right about Obama, Obama has shown to the world what a fantastic leader he is by appointing people of various national origins and religion in key posts of his government, notable among them is Hillary Clinton as Secretary of state, who was his biggest opponent and fiercest critic of his policies during elections. She was only person who could have stopped Obama from becoming president of USA. In Indian political scenario inclusive leader ship is not a choice but mandatory, the reason being obvious!!!!

  • Ravi Shankar Kerla

    Hi kalyan
    Whats the difference between interdependence and inclusion

  • Sandhya

    hello sir,
    sir do you see this kind of inclusion in any kind of industry in India?

  • Ravi asked: What’s the difference between interdependence and inclusion?

    This is an interesting question.

    When you win an election, and invite all for the party, that’s inclusion.

    When you as a project manager, are asked to organize a project management conference, and you include views from project managers in multiple companies, that’s inclusion.

    When we celebrate our organization’s success, and we donate some computers to the corporation school next door, that’s inclusion.

    I feel inclusion will lead to interdependence.

  • Sandhya asks – “do we see inclusion in any kind of industry in India”?

    Knowledge based industries have attracted people from diverse parts of the country, and from all economic backgrounds. That’s inclusion. In some of these organizations, an attempt is made to understand and include concerns and apprehensions of employees’ parents and family members who do not understand technology, and do not know English. When we communicate with them in a language they understand, and address their anxieties with empathy, that’s inclusion.

    Once with reports of violence in the city, with concerns on safety, we ensured safe transit of our people to their homes. Our Gardener, Subroto Bagchi, stayed back to ensure safe transit of employees from other companies in our campus. That’s inclusion.

    Organizations are beginning to involve employees in community service. These are first steps at inclusion.

    On the other hand, there are certain blocks to inclusion we must recognize. Any winner-take-all game, or zero-sum game will not encourage inclusion. If you have to compete with your peer to get ahead, you are likely to be suspicious of inclusion.

    The short answer is: we understand what is inclusion; still we have a long way to go. It will happen more as we realize, in the long run, we stand to gain more by “including” than by not including.

  • Radhe Shyam Thakur

    Sir, I’m a student from NIT Trichy pursuing B.Tech final year with chemical engineering.
    Sir, I’ve some of the inspirational and motivational books and have strong faith in the positive changes that occur by reading them.
    Sir, I request you to suggest me some of the books that could help me succeed in my entrepreneurial endeavour.
    Sir, I apologize for this request because it is not concerned with your topic.

  • Kalyan K. Banerjee

    Dear Radhe Shyam,
    Have you read Subroto Bagchi’s first book? That could be a good start. There are many aspects to entrepreneurship, feel free to contact over email (kalyan@mindtree.com) on what you are looking for, and we can continue the discussion.

    All the best.