Alok Bansal Feels... Leaders Must Learn to 'Walk the Talk' like Alexander


Alok Bansal Feels... Leaders Must Learn to 'Walk the Talk' like Alexander

Alok Bansal, MD and Country Head, Visionet Systems India, feels work has kept him pretty occupied. The company has been on an exponential growth path and this year, they say, they are slated to grow by another 50 percent.

He told ET Panache, “We have been on a hiring spree and are dedicating a lot of time to find new talent to take our company to the next level of growth. I am spending some time reading books and cycling. I realized that the pandemic has brought in a new realm of an unpredictable global environment that no one can control, but I can control how I exercise. It gives me great energy. I think energy has a big correlation with result and enjoyment and impact.”

He has been reading a lot during this time, too. “I am reading this interesting book ‘Alexander the Great’ by Phillip Freeman. Some of the key learnings I came across which are applicable to business chiefs is having a compelling vision: Alexander’s actions demonstrate what can be accomplished when a person is focused—when he or she has clarity coupled with a ’magnificent obsession’.

Unparalleled in execution: Alexander not only had a compelling vision, he also knew how to make that vision become a reality. No other military leader before him ever used speed and surprise with such dexterity. He knew the true value of the statement, ‘One is either quick or one is dead!’

Walk the talk: Alexander set the example of excellence with his leadership style; he led his troops quite literally from the front. When his troops went hungry or thirsty, he went hungry and thirsty; when their horses died beneath them and they had to walk, he did the same. As leaders we need to walk the talk,” he said.

Bansal feels the book encourages innovation as Alexander realized the competitive advantage of strategic innovation. “Because of his own logistical acumen, his war machine was the most advanced of its time. We need to constantly reinvent ourselves to stay ahead, survive, and disrupt the market.

Succession planning: Another lesson Alexander taught by omission is the need for a viable succession plan. He was so focused on his own role as king and aspiring deity that he could not bring himself to think of the future when he was gone. As a result, political vultures tore his vast empire apart after his death. As leaders we should have our successors as part of our fold,” he said.

Organizational governance is the final lesson that the case of Alexander illustrates to Bansal. “The importance of countervailing powers. Leaders have the responsibility to put proper mechanisms of organizational governance into place, using checks and balances to prevent faulty decision-making and the abuse of power. Alexander began his reign as an enlightened ruler, encouraging participation by his ‘companions’—loyal soldiers drawn from the noble families in Macedonia. As time passed, Alexander’s behaviour became increasingly domineering and grandiose. He tolerated nothing but applause from his audience, so his immediate circle kept their reservations to themselves. As a result, he lost touch with reality, another factor leading to his failure to consolidate his empire. As leaders, we need to be humble and down to earth and the urge to learn and unlearn should always be within us,” he said.

Bansal cooks as a stress buster. He said, “I am a fine chef and keep experimenting with food. I can cook Indian and Continental as well. We are in a world of digital engagement, and conference calls have blunted our senses. Without the joy of creation, our ability to think creatively and lead with inspiration is stunted. Every business leader needs to commit to creating, crafting, producing, building or cranking out something physical weekly. During the lockdown I was pretty occupied with the office since we were operational throughout. I didn’t do much on weekends, however, I did hands-on cooking on Sundays. I have cooked paneer pasanda, kofta, biryani, desserts without any tinge of sugar. I received raving reviews for my food.”

Bansal has been reading, cooking, cycling and trekking as part of his hobby since work took a huge precedence he couldn’t unravel any new hobby.

“Playing the flute is on my wishlist which I Intend taking up seriously before the end of this year. I run every day for 10 kms and at times have done marathon cycling for 150 kms on weekends. It is my passion. I find running and cycling are a terrific way to clear my head and regain focus. Arriving at work focussed, attentive, and passionate means that I can give my employees one hundred percent. I think it’s a great way to block out time and reflect on the quality of your interactions with colleagues and employees,” he ended.

This article first appeared in ET Panache. You can read the complete coverage here.