Azim Premji, the richest tech-billionaire in India, is credited for diversifying Wipro, which was originally a manufacturer of vegetable and refined oils in Amalner, district Jalgaon in Maharashtra. The 69 year old business tycoon took charge at a young age of 21 and since then has been imparting many of the lessons he learnt during his career with India’s youth. It is now one of India’s top IT companies and a world-class player at the global level.
If there’s one mantra for success given by Mr Premji’s, it’s: “keep striving for excellence.” And he has been very true to his own belief.
Here are the 10 leadership lessons from Azim Premji – “Richest Tech-Billionaire” for entrepreneurs,
1. Be far-sighted
The 69 year old philanthropist believes change is inevitable. And so he advises everyone to develop their own early warning system, which sets the alarm and prepares one for the changes ahead. He believes ‘being forewarned is being forearmed’ even when things are going right.
2. Know your strength
While it is important to know one’s weaknesses, it is equally important to know one’s strengths as well. Azim Premji has followed this throughout his life and turned what was then a $2 million hydrogenated cooking fat company into the $ 7 billion company, with a presence in 60 countries. At an event organized by AIMA and Bombay Management Association , he had said that it important to cherish the good in us because it is only our strengths that helps us correct our weaknesses.
3. Stick to your values
He believes that one’s value system forms the core of the business. Premji has time and again emphasized on the need for sticking to values because he firmly believes that success in business eventually but inevitably follows. He has said that once you stand by what you believe and don’t compromise with it under any circumstances; he becomes resilient to stand up to crisis, a quality much adored in entrepreneurs!
4. Stay grounded
Every entrepreneur can become successful. But what is important is to not let success go to your head. Or so says Premji. He has always advised young entrepreneurs to remain down to earth because the moment one lets success get into the head, he is already on his way to failure. He has also stressed on the fact that failure is as much a natural phenomenon as success is. So, when you encounter failure, always learn your lessons and move on!
5. Have faith
Azim Premji has always believed that it is important to have faith in one’s own ideas, even when everyone around tells you it is impossible. It is this faith that has helped him diversify Wipro and make it an IT giant, not just in the country but across the globe.
6. Take charge
This was the first thought that came to Azim Premji when over four decades ago, he stepped into the Wipro factory as Amalner. He was 21 and had spent the last few years in Stanford University Engineering School at California. Many people advised him to take up a nice, cushy job rather than face the challenges of running a hydrogenated oil business but he decided to stay and turned it into a multi-billion dollar business. Essentially, leadership begins from within.
7. Learn to work in teams
Azim Premji believes that the challenges ahead are so complex that no individual will be able to face them alone. While most of our education is focused in individual strength, teaming with others is equally important. You cannot fire a missile from a canoe. Unless you build a strong network of people with complimentary skills, you will be restricted by your own limitations. Globalisation has brought people of different origins, different upbringing and different cultures together. Ability to become an integral part of a cross-cultural team will be a must for your success.
8. Trust your gut instincts
Azim Premji does what he deems right and mostly, it so turns out that it is the ‘right’ thing to do. He once said, “It is important to realize that our intuition is a very important part of decision making. Many things are recorded by our subconscious. Use both sides of the brain. Even that is not enough. Some decisions need the use of the heart as well. When you use your mind and heart together, you may get a completely new and creative answer.”
9. Dealing with stress
Azim Premji feels that the stress that a young person faces today while beginning his or her career is the same as the last generation faced at the time of retirement. These are times when our jobs have become more complex even though some new technology is being rolled out almost every day. It’s only natural to get stressed under such circumstances. You must develop your own mechanism for dealing with stress. Some tackle it by going for a daily jog, some find relief in listening to good music and so on and so forth. The important thing to do is to develop your own stress-busting mechanism. You will need lots of energy to deal with the challenges. Unless you take care of yourself there is no way you can take care of others.
10. Never lose your zest and curiosity
Success eludes those who rest in the middle of a run. You gotta recharge your batteries, agreed. But, don’t time it right in the middle of a competition that’s hotting up. Markets wait for none, so be on your toes. Resting time is when the market slips into slumber. Premji said, “Remaining on top of what you need to know will become one of the greatest challenges for you. The natural zest and curiosity for learning is one of the greatest drivers for keeping updated on knowledge. A child’s curiosity is insatiable because every new object is a thing of wonder and mystery. The same zest is needed to keep learning new things. I personally spend at least 10 hours every week on reading. If I do not do that, I will find myself quickly outdated.”