Chandrasekaran Draws Leadership Lessons From His Marathon Runs
Tata Sons' Chairman N Chandrasekaran spoke on the importance of developing business capabilities over the long-term.
There are parallels between running a marathon and the leadership skills required to successfully run a business, according to N Chandrasekaran of Tata Sons Pvt.
“Why compare leadership and marathons? Because both have a lot in common. Both have a long-term theme. You require the capability to last long,” said Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, while speaking at the Ascent Conclave 2022 on Thursday.
“To succeed, you will need tremendous willpower, perseverance. And you require a certain rhythm and pace to keep going," said Chandrasekaran, who participates in marathons. "And both are injury prone… so you need to know how to recover. And both have to outlast weather cycles, like the current global environment we are going through.”
He highlighted the importance of developing business capabilities over the long term.
“If you want to succeed, you got to do it for the long haul. You need to prepare yourselves and your organisation, in terms of capability, processes, talent, right capital structure. It’s multi-faceted. It’s about doing things very systematically for a long time and building that organisational capability.”
According to him, you can have innovation in strategy but keep the execution boring. Deviation in execution is not desirable, he said.
Chandrasekaran recommended prioritising fitness of one’s business over performance.
“You cannot just target growth rates if the organisation is not fit. The organisation has to be fit in multiple dimensions. If you are not capitalised properly, and if you have don’t have the structures in place, it doesn’t work," he said.
While there may be short-term performance, but to be consistent, the overall fitness of the company is important. "If you don’t have the sight of cash flows at some point in time, it’s over,” he said.
He also advised business leaders and entrepreneurs on "running your own race and not be distracted by others".
"We need to know what context my company is operating, what is my balance sheet, and what is the real strength and capability we have. That should set the pace. It’s important to create the capability that is required in the organisation. Then, you can decide the race you can run,” he said.