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The Reincarnate CEO

September 9, 2009: 8:00 AM ET

There is life after the recession. But it calls for a more evolved, employee-centric CEO

Nayar welcomes the rebirth of the CEO. Photo: HCL Technologies

HCL's Nayar welcomes the rebirth of the CEO. Photo: HCL Technologies

By Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies Ltd.

The inherent human urge to deny, avoid and fight change is a hard one to beat.

Take the current recession: Most corporations tried to battle and beat the game of change. And yet, the only ones that came out smiling from it were those who embraced it, rather than challenge it.

The Bhagavad Gita puts this succinctly when it says that the human body is subject to constant change and is constantly adapting to it everyday. And in the After Life, or as we in India call it, in the punarjanam (the rebirth), the new world operates on new principles--including new definitions for what constitutes a good business leader.

In an earlier incarnation a powerful CEO was a person in a relentless chase of growth, bottom-lines and shareholder value. He or she knew the numbers well, but rarely went beyond it to understand the needs of the organization's employees as well as its customers. This CEO worked in a structured environment where the approach was almost always top down and customers were not worked with but for. Further, this type of CEO worked within the constraints of a system that made collaborating with competition unthinkable.

The reincarnate CEO is still in pursuit of shareholder value. But, far more than monetary gain, the term "value" now translates into sustainability. Rather than pursuing and attaining standalone corporate social responsibility, leaders are now expected to embed responsibility into core business strategy – across all stakeholders. More

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