The need to “step out” and help in any way that one can, based on one’s resources and abilities is our “dharma”: President-Group Public Affairs, Mahindra & Mahindra

Manoj Chugh - Mahindra & Mahindra

An ICT industry veteran, over the last 38 years Mr. Manoj Chugh, President-Group Public Affairs, Mahindra & Mahindra has managed and led businesses across the Hi-Tech & IT Services domains. His experience spans diverse business segments including Systems Integration, Satellite Communications, Networking, Information Infrastructure and Global IT Services. He has worked extensively with both Indian and Global Majors.

In an exclusive conversation with CPO Innovation, Manoj Chugh shares his views on effective leadership in tough times, key areas where businesses & leaders should focus on in order to recover from the impact of the pandemic. He also shares some of the leadership lessons that have guided him to navigate the covid19 crisis.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

CPO Innovation: Do you think a crisis is the make or break of effective leadership?

Manoj Chugh: A crisis is not a make or break, but a Litmus Test of effective leadership. Every sinew and muscle has to be brought into play. Mental toughness is key and a “Zen” like attitude has to be taken. 

CPO Innovation: According to you, what are some main areas do you think organizations and leaders should focus on to recover from the impact that the pandemic can have on business and people?

Manoj Chugh: There are four key areas that leaders should focus on:

  • First is on one’s employees. People are our greatest asset. Their well being and that of their loved ones is paramount. 
  • Once we ascertain that our employees’ needs are taken care of, doing a quick financial stress test to make sure one has enough cash to last through the tough times. It is important to secure the organization financially. It is time to loosen the purse strings of the War Chest that one has built over the years. 
  • Serving and supporting the communities that we are a part of and the ecosystem around is equally important. The need to “step out” and help in any way that one can, based on one’s resources and abilities is our “dharma.”
  • Getting “back to business,” thinking about which parts of one’s business will yield the desired financial returns, what can we “stop doing” in the post-pandemic world, how we will serve the new engagement models of our customers, who do we get back to the office and who can continue to work from home. All these aspects need to be thought through. Post the pandemic, we want to make sure that we come out as a “renewed” and “reinvigorated” organization, which is best in class in whatever we endeavor to continue to do. 

CPO Innovation: Times of the crisis have historically also been opportunities for change. How can leaders guide their teams to look at crisis as an opportunity?

Manoj Chugh: Encouraging employees to work in teams to come up with ideas on process improvement. Asking fundamental questions on what one should “stop doing” and crowdsourcing ideas is critical. An outreach program, focused on open communication and a sincere desire to take feedback and suggestions is critical. Asking ourselves fundamental questions on our competitive position and where we are World Beating, are important. It is a time to reflect and think deep.

CPO Innovation: How are you striking a balance between ensuring business continuity, and managing employee experience & public affairs?

Manoj Chugh: By having an open and transparent approach. Employees understand the reality. Constant communication is key. It helps build a Trusted Relationship.

CPO Innovation: What are some of the leadership lessons that have guided you in the current times of Covid19 crisis?

Manoj Chugh: To remain calm and cool. Have a positive mindset. Recognize that “tough times do not last, tough people do” and importantly, not to waste a crisis. Lastly, remember, “ this too shall pass.”