26th November is an unfrogettable day for Indians as eight years ago the terrorists attacked simultaneously several points in Mumbai and in the process around 166 people died within a space of two days.
26th November 2016 after eight years I was sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of the Auditorium of the Emirates Institute of Banking and Financial Services. From 6.15 p.m. to 8.15 p.m. for about two hours Capt.RaghuRaman spoke on the Leadership lessons to be learnt from Saichen Glaciers.
I have been to several seminars, workshops and events over the last so many years and this would rank among the top 3 in my life time so far. It was a very inspiring and very gripping speech with real life instances from the Indian Armed Forces on how they handle the extreme conditions in Siachen Galciers to protect the nation.
The soldiers and officers of the Indian Army are stationed in Siachen Glaciers which is considered highly risky both from the weather point of view as well as the frequent fighting with the neighbouring country armed forces. This is 26,000 ft above sea level where the weather is around -35 degrees most part of the year. If it is summer then the temperature is down by about 5 to 10 degrees. Summer or Winter the weather is around - 35 degrees - extremely chill, windy and dangerous. The soldiers walk in the snow which is sometimes as deep as their full leg (see picture below) and they still have to walk with about 20 to 30kgs on their back to do the patrolling of the area and protect the nation from enemies.
The pre-read (The Rope) for the speech sent by Capt.RaghuRaman actually made my blood freeze for some moments. His presentation was truly amazing and gripping particularly after the pre-read and the initial insights that he gave into the background of getting posted in Siachen Galciers.
"The Rope" explains in detail about how the patrolling in the Glaciers is so difficult with all the crevasse and the dangers of soldiers falling into the crevasse and not being able to come out. The sacrifices that the soldiers go through is really unthinkable as we are all in the comfort of city life with all the comforts and least challenges.
Capt.RaghuRaman has worked in the Armed forces for 11 years and then spent another 11 years in the Corporate world before joining back the Government of India five years ago. He said in the army you know which side the enemy is but in the Corporate world and Government Departments you really do not know which side is your enemy.
The speech started with three simple questions:
- What is the most difficult challenge you have faced?
- Have your efforts been rewarded and has life been fair to you?
- Do you have adequate resources to face challenges thrown at you?
He gave a few minutes for the audience to think of an answer to all the three questions from their own individual life experience. The same questions were posed at the end of the speech and for me the answers to these three questions were completely different.
He asked Why do soldiers fight? They fight for their comrades and immediate troops and to save the people who live in the country.
The Leadership lessons that one could learn from the Armed forces was summarised very nicely in the form of five lessons.
Lesson No.1 - Good teams are joined at hips
Lesson No.2 - Walk the Talk. It is important for the Leader to show to his team members and make them know that he knows the pain they go through. Under the pain the team members go through. The members who are on the ground are expecting a human leader and not the Ideal Leader.
Lesson 3 - There are no good or bad units/teams. There are only good and bad leaders/officers. Leaders make the difference. Blaming the whole team is of no use when the leader himself needs to look inward and change.
Lesson No.4 - Safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first. The honour welfare and comfort of men you command comes next. Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last. The moral of the story is "if you genuinely look after your people, they would do well". Leader should always ensure that his team is happy and safe. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great has said that great companies deliver 7 times better results. These companies are Great because the Leader moves to the back putting their people in the front. This is called Level 5 Leadership which can be taught and inculcated in Leaders of the Corporate World and Governments. The leader should focus on team results and not on their personal individual achievements.
Lesson No.5 - Get a perspective. Leaders have to change within before they can change the outside environment. A good leader needs to have excellent practical knowledge and extraordinary ability to communicate. The ability to communicate, story telling and empathy for ground realities are true qualities required for a good leader.
I salute Capt.RaghuRaman and every Soldier and Officer in the Indian Army for all the sacrifices and endurance they are demonstrating in their singular mission of saving the nation. Capt.RaghuRaman request to the audience was the most touching - he said please send a "thank you" message to the Indian Soldiers in Siachen Glaciers.
Thank You Indian Army for protecting the Nation. "Thank You" to every soldier and officer in Siachen Galcier. Jai Hind.
27th November 2016