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Managerial Insights From Dhirubhai Ambani

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Feb 8, 2013
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Great leaders are in some ways great managers. There is no standard list of managerial traits. Great managers tell their own words, watch things with their own eyes. But reading the great managers can add a new dimension in how we think and act. Dhirubhai is unquestionably one of them who needs to be studied comprehensively. Some of his managerial insights and traits are covered here.

Roll up your Sleeves and Help

Within a team, everyone shares the same DNA. Dhirubhai worked as a man of field wherever he went, he acted. He was not that type who is sitting in Air-conditioned room and order managers to do something. Even when he was already a name to reckon with he didn't lose his track. It didn't stop him from rolling up his sleeves and diving in to rescue a situation that had gone out of control. He had the animal-like sense of decoding situations. He knew his people well and trusted their capabilities and join with them in putting out the fire and not crucifying them for it.

 Be a safety net for your team.

In the sense of treating people he was like a mafia Don. The people to whom he gives his mind were in a safety net made by him. He cared about them. He had utmost concern about them. It invoked courage,spreads confidence within those people.

Dream big, but dream with your eyes open.

Limitations are only in the mind. Nothing is truly unattainable who dreamed big. People know these verses but few of them believe  and act like it. Dhirubhai was an example to make the verses valid. He had started from polyesters trading but his dream was big. He promoted his big dream within his team. He made them believe it by his subsequent success. He believed“ No” is no answer. When his managers showed some goal impossible to attain, most of the time he assured them with saying " it is difficult but not impossible."

Leave the professional alone!

Though most owners would like to recruit best professionals but most of the time they want professionals work as an extension of them. It is suicidal. Dhirubhai let his expert professionals to work freely without any intervention. No policing, no supervision. He just directs them by saying “produce your best.”

Change your orbit, constantly!

A. G Krisnamurti explains the orbit theory of Dhirubhai “He (Dhirubhai) would often explain that we are all born into an orbit. It is up to us to progress to the next. We could choose to live and die in the orbit that we are born in. But that would be a criminal waste of potential. When we push ourselves into the next orbit, we benefit not only ourselves but everyone connected with us.” Dhirubhai changed the orbit of Reliance from Mumbai to be a multinational. But when you change your orbit you will create some friction. Fortunately, Your competitors from the old orbit can never reach you in the new orbit.

The arm-around-the-shoulder leader

Dhirubhai  was intimate with his managers and employees. He manifested his desire, his beliefs in hundreds of ways. As a part of it, When he meet with them alone, he extended his arms to their shoulder to make an impression that they are too close to him.It really worked. A.G Krisnamurti , one of his managers says “With that one simple gesture, he managed to achieve many things. I was put at ease instantaneously. I was made to feel like an equal who was loved and important enough to be considered close to him. And I would walk away from that meeting feeling so good about myself and the work I was doing! ……. He would never, ever exude an air of aloofness and exclusivity.”

 The Dhirubhai theory of Supply creating Demand

Dhirubhai was not a business graduate or an economist. But his instinct was backed by his through reading of market trends and behavior. In the perspective of India with above 100 crore people Dhirubhai was the right man to apply the theory of “Supply creating Demand "`. The essence of this theory is" increase the supply, achieve economies of scale. It will create the demand." His Reliance Patalanga Project and Infocomm Project are the examples of the successful of application of that theory.

Money is not a product by itself, it is a by-product, so don't chase it

M.G. krisnamurti says “when he briefed me about setting up Mudra, his instruction was clear: 'Produce the best textile advertising in the country,' he said.He did not breathe a word about profits, nor about becoming the richest ad agency in the country. Great advertising was the goal that he set for me. A by-product is something that you don't set out to produce. It is the spin off when you create something larger.”

He wanted himself to be best and He wanted his team to be best and he wanted his contributions to be best. It is all about Dhirubhai.It’s the essence of creating one of the largest business conglomerate in India.

Inspired by: Dhirubhaism, A.G Krisnamurti


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Mr. Julfikar Islam is currently studying Marketing (4th year) at University of Dhaka. He is truly an organizational being. He has been working with a number of knowledge-based organizations for last 3 years within the University. His area of specialization is Supply Chain Management. He also has an effective knowledge about Branding, Current Market trends. He has been blogging for last 1 year about these issues in a number of national blog and community website.

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