Rusen Kumar is a successful media entrepreneur. He runs media website indiacsr.in, e-commerce on e-books i.e., csrbooks.com. He has been in the domain of corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR) for a decade. He manages his business from a III tire city in Chhattisgarh. He is among a key catalyst who transformed the corporate social responsibility reporting landscape in India through various interventions i.e., reporting, forums, workshops and recognitions. In an exclusive interview, Rusen Kumar says, listening to self-criticism is essential for a leader. He suggests, if you want to lead the people in your business, you need to serve them first. Excerpts:
What does leadership mean to you?
Leading a group of people is a very difficult task, and no place and size matter. A good leader is one who leads himself in an effective way. Everyone in the institution has a shared goal. A leader must be guided by values and wisdom. A good leader always tries to grow and flourish, even at tough times. A good leader always tries to understand fundamental human behaviour. If you fail to understand human nature, you cannot lead the people. If you want to lead the people, actually you need to lead their mind. Love and care are the biggest power to lead the people. If you want to lead the people, you need to serve them first. A good leader clears the thorns in the road and then inspires his teammates to walk that path far and wide.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
Benjamin Franklin and Dr. BR Ambedkar are two greatest inspirations for me. Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, Anand Mahindra are among my favourite business leaders whose thoughts and way of thinking inspired me a lot. Acquiring the essential leadership quality from the great personalities is my routine job. Every day I explore great minds and I add value to my thought process. What I learned is that making a series of wrong decisions can spoil the opportunities.
What is your leadership mantra?
Leadership is all about serving the people. If you will not serve them, you do not deserve to lead them. I always tried to lead with less ego. What I experienced is that ego is the biggest hurdle in leadership.
How did you handle the Covid-19 crisis?
Managing the organisation in Covid-19 crisis was a great challenge. Problems and challenges force us to rethink. Many problems are hidden in one problem. We faced many troubles during this period due to our bad habits. But we faced the challenges very wisely. We have realized that we, knowingly or unknowingly, create trouble for ourselves.
How do you motivate your team?
I keep asking my team to tell me where we have made shared mistakes. If we will make sure to not repeat the mistakes, the team will always be motivated. Every day we must ask, what was the biggest mistake we made yesterday.
I ensure that I have the right amount of positive and constructive feedback to help them perform effectively. My actions always match my words so when I speak to my team with conviction; they are on-board with performing their best.
What are the most important traits of a leader?
Firstly, a leader who forgives mistakes immediately. Second, a good leader doesn’t let the dignity of the person fall. Thirdly, a good leader does not use the power of the chair. The prime duty of the leader is to create a fear-free environment around him.
Are you open to criticism and debates with your colleagues and subordinates?
I have told my colleagues to watch my behaviour very closely and let me know immediately what they find bad in it. What I believe is that listening to self-criticism is essential for a leader. If we stop listening to criticism, we will surely make mega bad decisions someday. A healthy environment should be created where people can criticize us within a team. Because we are all on the same boat. A boat that is on a river with strong waves and also facing heavy rain and is in danger of storms too.