Right from the salt, we add to our food to the watch we wear and to the car we drive, TATA as a brand is a household name that spells loyalty and trust. Who drives these values- an organization or an individual? The answer is both. If carefully analyzed, the value-driven organizations like the TATAs are led by mission-oriented leaders. These successful leaders not only aim to generate huge profits in businesses but also aim to transform the lives of their employees, the communities in which they live and the society at large. So, here is an Octogenarian leader who has shown the world what leadership means and what a true leader sets out to build and achieve. Mr Ratan Tata, the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons. Known as the Titan of Indian Industries, this leader has time and again proved that businesses can be profitable yet ethical and socially accountable.

Here are 5 Key lessons in leadership from this giant of an industrialist and flag bearer of philanthropy.

Lesson 1- Leaders must be visionaries

Any venture or business that lack vision falls flat in due course of time and therefore, the central leadership has to be a visionary at heart. Only a visionary can see newer avenues of business expansion where others perceive possibilities of failure. This is evident when Mr Ratan Tata himself claimed to have been dissuaded whilst venturing into automobile manufacturing without a foreign joint venture.


In his own words, “Everyone told us it couldn't be done without having a joint venture or a partnership with an international company. What if I did this, I would be linked to failure. But we went ahead anyway. There were technical issues and many lessons we learned. It was a wonderful experience to be breaking new ground. The chances to give up were many. We stayed the course, worked out each issue, and that was the birth of India's 1st indigenous car, The Tata Indica.”

Lesson 2- Leaders are defined by humility

Humility to embrace everyone with dignity and respect is the hallmark of a genuine leader. He who has humility can bring together diverse talents in a dynamic ecosystem and empower them to give their best in every situation. Ratan Tata embraced the victims of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and made sure that they were well taken care of. Everyone associated with TATA ventures takes great pride in being associated with an organization driven by supreme human values.

Lesson 3- Leaders must be innovators

A crisis can be a springboard of creating value and meaning in all spheres of life. A leader must have the knack of transforming a crisis as an opportunity for growth. This calls for innovation. After brand Tanishq was launched in 1995 with the view of creating a market segment for delicate 18K jewellery bordering on western designs, it faced terrible losses amounting to Rs 150 crores. It was only after a lot of market research that the management, under the leadership of Mr Ratan Tata, innovated in terms of process and product. Tanishq not only launched 22K traditional Indian designs in the market but also device Karatmeter to test the purity of the gold it was vouching for. This completely changed the game and as more people came to trust the scientific way of evaluating gold, the business picked up.

Lesson 4- Leaders must be able to take criticism as a lesson

Ratan Tata once said, “Take the stones people throw at you and use them to build a monument.’ This is perhaps one of the most encouraging lessons that everyone must practise building in their approach. Conviction in one’s own belief is critical to turn around any situation. When Ratan Tata reduced the retirement age from 70 to 65 years, he faced a lot of criticism. He held on to his conviction that it was important as he wanted his company to progress creating space for fresh new talent.

Lesson 5- Leaders must have the inherent courage and confidence to undertake risks

Working on a safe mode always can lead to an organization becoming stagnant in due course of time. Taking risks ushers in difficult and confusing situations and precisely, these situations can act as harbingers of innovation. The ability to break free from the comfort zone is the key to gaining new markets. For example, acquiring of Jaguar Land Rover, against much apprehension, went to boost the profits of TATA Motors.

Every person is a leader in his or her own way. Many a time, these latent skills need to be nurtured. The best and a structured way to polish these skills is by continues learning, one can explore professional course such as the Executive Program in Leadership and Management Program by IIM Calcutta.

What the Course Promises to Deliver:

This course aims to equip future leaders with skills that will help them drive a people-oriented organization, drive diverse talents together and create an ecosystem for innovation. This course aims to instil unparalleled leadership value that can help future leaders seamlessly mitigate risks and transform them into opportunities.