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In the Indian business community, if there is one name that stands out for trust and integrity, it’s Ratan Tata. Born on 28 December 1937 in Surat, Ratan Naval Tata was the chairman of Tata Group, the Mumbai-based conglomerate from 1991–2012.
He has been awarded Padam Vibhushan and Padam Bhushan in the year 2008 & 2000 respectively for his contribution towards trade and industry. Known for his vision and ability to lead and innovate, he led the global foray of the largely India-based Tata Group. When Tata took over, the group’s global revenues were only 10 per cent; when he left, that figure was at 67 per cent with operations in more than 100 countries.
Being a philanthropist and a firm believer in public welfare, he still continues lead an active life as chairman of the group’s charitable trusts, making investments in many start-ups, apart from pursuing his other passions such as flying.
Here are some valuable lessons in business and leadership from Ratan Tata’s distinguished career.
1. A good leader always has a vision.
Ratan Tata firmly believed in having a vision for Tata as a group. One of the biggest highlights of his tenure as chairman was the unveiling of the Tata Nano. He envisioned a car for India that was safe and affordable for the common man. This led to the creation of the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, and even though steel prices had gone up from the time the project was conceived to the time it was launched, Ratan Tata boldly said that ‘a promise is a promise’ and launched the car at Rs. 1 Lakh.
2. Never give up on your values.
Values are something that define a company, both to its employees and its customers. Public Safety and welfare has always been one of the main core values of Tata. The Tata Group has always been known for upholding these values and when Ratan Tata took the reigns, he too reinstated these values into the company culture. As a result, Tata has become one of the most trusted brands the world over. This kind of trust takes years of unyielding commitment and hard work. As a leader Ratan Tata led the company into the new world while maintaining the core values of the company.
3. Develop the Ability to motivate others.
Ratan Tata had the ability to inspire and motivate others which is very important for a leader. Being a great leader isn’t about checking all the right boxes but is about making sure you inspire, drive and spark your drive in others, so that they along with you, can bring about change, social innovation and progress. Ratan Tata has managed to win over not only his staff, employees, peers but also the media with his soft spoken tone and his systematic way of doing things. Rarely to be the one to show display of anger, he always dealt with situations and conflicting views with an open mind and a calm demeanour.
4. Take Risks; Get out of the safe mode.
Taking risks is the cardinal rule of business. As a leader, one needs to have the foresight and the capability to take risks that can take the company to new heights. Coming from business family, Ratan Tata was no stranger to taking risks and once also said, “I don’t believe in making right decisions. I take decisions and then make them right.” From acquiring the Jaguar and Land Rover businesses from Ford to taking over Corus, the second-largest steel maker in Europe, Ratan Tata made significantly big moves and has managed to make things work in his favour.