The Dean of Harvard business school, Professor Nitin Nohria, recently shared his insights in an interview on how to be an effective leader. In the brief video posted below one could see four important lessons. I report the four points in a revised order of importance.
While Professor Nohria does not articulate this point, but there are two very important anecdotes in his remarks that illustrate the importance of family for him. The first anecdote is about his father telling him to be himself, and don’t try to imitate others. Listening to elders is a key trait of South Asians, regardless of which continent they end up living on. The other remark is about him living closer to the school that allows him to see his daughters even when he has to attend social events in the evening.
The commitment to family in both generational directions, i.e., parents and children, is key to being a balanced human being.
Be close to the action
Professor Nohria moved in to the Dean’s residence on campus, which had not seen a dean living there in the past three decades. Being near the factory floor (i.e., Harvard Business School) opened many opportunities for the Dean to interact with students and the staff. Efficient managers should always be hands on and accessible, not just online but also accessible in person. Managers need to be felt and seen.
Manage your time well
Dean Nohria every three months evaluates his appointments and determines if he is indeed spending at least 50% of his time in advancing the priorities he has set for his school. It is easy to get bogged down in meetings that are tangential to the core business of the organization. His advice: revaluate how your time has been spent routinely to determine if you are focussed on the core and not on the periphery.
If you have an agenda, implement it. Don’t wait for the right moment. The moment you act is the right moment. Many have waited for the right moment to implement their agenda, President Barack Obama comes to mind. As the time passes by one realizes the increasing opposition to the very change the manager wants to implement. Dean’s advice: if you have an agenda, don’t wait, implement it now