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CAN WE LEARN FROM INDIAN CEO?

As the Indian economy is all set to grow by 7.5 percent this year, experts are saying that it could be the best time for Western CEOs to learn some lessons from their Indian counterparts, reports CNN.

While Western economies continue to stutter, a report forecasts that India will soon return to the high-growth trajectory it enjoyed before the crisis. At the same time, the new research published in this month’s Harvard Business Review shows that the heads of India’s biggest companies have a very different approach to leadership from Western bosses.

Peter Cappelli, Professor of management at Wharton University of Pennsylvania, was one of the researchers behind the study, and based on interviews with leaders and HR departments from 98 of India’s 150 biggest companies, he identified some of the key differences between Indian and Western bosses.

“In terms of lessons for managers elsewhere, one of the most important things is that Indian leaders lead with a sense of social purpose,” Cappelli told CNN. He said that every leader interviewed gave a specific social purpose as being the goal of their business. Those purposes ranged from improving healthcare in India, to getting cell phones to people who don’t have access to communication tools, and proving to the international community that Indian companies can lead in IT.

“Having a social purpose really motivates workers,” said Cappelli. “If you can articulate a social purpose for your organization and take it seriously it can have real benefits.” Indian firms invest an enormous amount in their employees’ training and development, and IT firms typically allocate 60 days of formal training for new hires and companies often spend months training even experienced workers hired from other firms.

The study said that U.S. firms have largely abandoned investing in employees, seeing it as a waste if they leave the business. It adds that employee turnover is estimated to be 30 percent in India, and investing in employees ensures the quality of those who stay at the company.

According to Cappelli, U.S. companies often think about strategy in terms of chasing customers or pursuing market opportunities, but Indian firms will more often start by identifying their strengths, identifying their customers’ needs, and then try to meet those needs.

“Indian companies do that by taking smart, motivated people, really engaging them and investing in them, and letting them loose to just beat on those problems, often with just trial and error approaches, until they come out with a solution that’s kind of out of the box,” he said.

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