I had seen Mr ERC from a distance only. Being a junior officer of the company, I never had an opportunity to interact with him directly, face-to-face.
After Mr ERC left our company some time in 1989, we were not knowing much about his whereabouts. During that period, the private steel company based in Western India, started recruiting professionals for various senior positions for their proposed integrated steel plant project in the west coast. There was one senior position that appeared as well suited to my experience and qualifications. So, I too applied and I was called for the interview.
The interview was scheduled at the company's steel project office quite away from a well known city. The company had arranged vehicles to take the candidates to the interview venue from their city office.
I was quite surprised to find more than 50 people who had turned up to attend the interview for just one HoD level post. Most of the people had been from the private industry, for whom jumping from one post to the other was not a big issue as compared to the few people like me from the public sector and the government.
The interview began at around 11 a.m. For each candidate, they were taking about half an hour. They were also not allowing the people who got finished to meet the others who were waiting. I began to feel a bit irritated when my turn was not coming even after few hours. Then I decided to quit without attending the interview. But my problem was the transport to go back to my hotel in the city. Unless the company provided some vehicle, it was impossible for me to go back.
I decided to approach the concerned HR personnel. To my surprise, I was directed to a person whom I find was a senior officer who superannuated some time ago from my own company. We knew each other to some extent. I told him my intention to go back without the interview and my disillusion with the whole process that they were adopting.
When I insisted, this old man suddenly asked me a question. He asked me whether Mr ERC was someway connected to me. I did not realize why he was asking that. I knew Mr ERC as our company's powerful ex-CEO. But we never interacted one-to-one and there was no chance that Mr ERC knowing me, just one among the thousands of engineers who were in his past organization. So, I replied in the negative.
Then this person produced a paper from his table drawer. He handed over that paper to me and I read what was written in it. Mr ERC had scribbled something on it which surprised me a lot. He had instructed the HR department to get me to be appointed for the post. He had written my name, my then place of working and other details quite unambiguously.
My senior now sitting on the other side then told me their part of the story. He said that this instruction, from Mr ERC who had become one of their directors, came after they took actions for advertising for the post. They were thinking of approaching me directly. But then they saw my own application among the people who had responded to the advertisement. Their job had thus become easier.
He then informed that I was their choice for the post. Now the interview that was being done was a formality and also an opportunity for some of them to assess my potentials. That was the reason why they had deliberately kept me as the last candidate for the interview.
My interview took place late in the evening. The interview board consisted of very senior and aged people. I was quite young and would have fumbled facing these stalwarts from the industry. But soon I realized the manner in which they interacted with me. They were treating me like an industry expert in my area of specialization. It was a true professional interaction.
Soon they announced about my selection to the post. I remember, the full bus load of candidates returning back to the city with all the rest congratulating me for my selection.
But I did not accept that offer due to some other reasons. That is another story.
I have wrote this to illustrate the special skill of Mr ERC in evaluating people under him even when he never directly interacted with them. He had his own channels of knowing the pulse of his organization. He had his own methods to know about the potentials of the individuals who worked in the organization even when he never had the necessity to meet any one of those individually.
Knowing people and using the PPM process wisely were some aspects of his successful leadership.
Many of our leaders in the industry and in other areas unfortunately ignore this and make their respective organizations risk potential failure.
If successful companies become suddenly unsuccessful and if governments fail to keep up the expectations of the people, it is all because of the failure of the concerned leaders in recognizing the individuals that form the organization and their failure to make use of the people appropriately.
Would you respond with your views on this?