The Made in India Managers – India’s Soft Power

The phenomenon of the apparently “unexpected” and “peculiar” success of “made-in-India” business leaders discussed in the book  Made in India Manager makes some interesting observation. The phenomenon is explained in the book by the concept of emergence. The strengths of the made-in-India manager emerge from the coming together of multiple, interlinked features with the ability to “think in English.”That success has been attributed to 

  • A very competitive, industrious and focused learning environment. That competitive intensity implies that “made-in-India managers” have survived a high level of competition to get where they are, and this has taught them focus, self-analysis, the importance of practice, and the experience that difficult-looking odds can be overcome.
  • Diversity and inclusion internalised early by many, helps them adapt and adjust to different or a variety of cultural environments quickly than most of other nationals that mostly spent their childhood and young adulthood in a homogeneous environment.
  • Family values 

India-made leaders cite a family member as an influential role model in significantly higher frequency than their Western counterparts. In particular they talk about the strong influence that their mothers have had on their upbringing, aspirations, and values. The typical Indian middle class student grew up in an extremely stable family environment, which has in turn encouraged high aspirations and deep self-confidence. The formative role of the family in shaping values through demonstration and not by the preaching of water and drinking wine, stressing the value of education, and proving an “always there” support provides a strong value core that builds resilience.

  • Dealing with ambiguity 

This to me is the most relatable concept- a similarity of India and Africa. I was recently discussing with a client why many nationals coming from the developed world are irked and frustrated by the “This is Africa” culture- you know the  lack of observance by Africans of strict timekeeping and meeting deadlines , things going as planned, staying the course of the project with no deviations…Without excusing bad behavior and insolence, there is a valid justification of the “This is Africa” culture. While most developed nations have working systems, predictable regulation and laws,  trains that are never late, working social security safety nets, Africa and India lack that, and instead  Africans and Indians have to figure out how to thrive in the unpredictable  and ambiguous environment.  From the vagaries of the weather, to the unreliability of infrastructure—we learn to deal with a lot of things that are uncertain, and develop the ability to quickly assess situations and help ourselves without waiting for the system to help us. Even the  everyday activity and mundane tasks like commuting to get to work on time, dropping children to school, submitting a project on time,  are disrupted by things that could have not been planned for like abrupt road closures, power outage, strikes on roads, a houselps that decides to quit in the morning, employee who don’t show at work without notice, impromptu public holidays, a sick family member that needs urgent attention, the backup generator that failed to start as soon as the power company decided to do their typical thing,etc.  People in Africa and India develop resilience, the ability to adapt to systems that don’t work, and the intensity to confront and overcome obstacles on a day-to-day basis. This builds in them invaluable skills and capabilities including agility, adaptability, thriving is crisis, expecting the worst and being prepared to make it work for you, never being comfortable, not taking anything for granted and working all opportunities at all times. 

In Kenya  we laugh and joke about the politicians who got their degrees in India – the so called Punjab degrees, then turn around and complain about how Indians are taking up most of the C-level positions in manufacturing, advertising, IT& technology and hospitality industry. It is not unusual to find Kenyans and Africans disparaging India and some of the things that Indians are unable to get right  especially on people management and racial discrimination -a criticism that is made sometimes with just cause. Nevertheless, we can’t hide from the stellar performance and business value the made in India talent brings to Companies. This has now been acknowledged as Indian soft power that is  likely to keep growing just like the precision and excellence of Germans. 

Next someone needs to research the 8-4-4 miracles that distinguishes Kenyans from other Africans. 8-4-4 had its issues with being exclusionary…but those that thrived in that system leave a mark anywhere they go. I might just be the one to write that book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stalk Us On