According to you, what is leadership?

Leadership is about pursuing a mission through shared vision.

Leading is about being able to inspire people, empowering them, earning their respect, and motivating them to perform at their optimal best. Leadership is also about looking beyond your organization so that your sense of purpose is for the greater good of the community at large.

Which leaders have inspired you the most?

I have been inspired by several leaders at different stages of my entrepreneurial journey. Impressed as I am with pioneering efforts, ability to differentiate, excellence, and values, I have discovered and interacted closely with a few people along the way who possess such stellar attributes and have built their respective organizations with strong stewardship.

Among my leadership icons are Jack Welch whom I admire for building an interactive and boundary-less organization of enormous global scale.  I look up to Ratan Tata (and, of course, JRD) for building such a well-respected, diversified organization with a stamp of excellence. Narayana Murthy for pioneering the software sector in India and creating an enviable brand reputation based on a high personal code of ethics and governance. I admire Sunil Mittal for his sheer ability in growing the scale of India’s mobile communications market so rapidly and connecting rural India to the mainstream. My other favourite business leader is the late Anita Roddick, the creator of Body Shop, a unique and differentiated cosmetics business based on innovative marketing.

Beyond industry, I respect Mohammed Yunus for pioneering the micro-finance revolution with his missionary Grameen Bank and Dr Devi Shetty for building his highly successful healthcare business model on a platform of affordability.

What is the biggest leadership challenge faced today?

For me the biggest leadership challenge is to try and build global leadership as an Indian company with sub-optimal infrastructure.

-Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

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