Friday, August 1, 2008


Ahuja! That was his name! He was my first boss and the teacher of my most important leadership lessons. He taught me exactly what never to do as a boss; because everything he did was, well, horribly wrong! I called him the Love Guru much before Mike Myers even made his first movie, because Ahuja showed me how much a ‘leader’ could be hated! He evoked that emotion – and much more – in almost everybody in office. I personally considered him the worst leader history had ever seen. And I realised all that one had to do to be a fantastic leader was to never do the things he did! Mr. Love Guru’s biggest claim to fame was that he never used to mix ‘work’ with ‘fun’! And he used to preach how the world’s top corporations reached ‘there’ because of this rule only. Ugghh!

If only Ahuja had even smelt of an imp of a company called Google! The 2008 Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For list ranks Google at the brilliant position of #1 amongst all the companies in the world. In their in-depth analysis, Fortune writes, “Why is Google so great?... [Apart from other reasons] Google’s employees like to have a lot of fun during the work day – to relieve stress, build camaraderie and fuel creative thinking.” In fact, the “opportunities to learn, grow, travel and have wildly zany fun during the workday” are what sets the Google culture thoroughly apart. Google’s official “Top 10 Reasons to Work at Google” document clarifies amusingly, and in reality, “Work and play are not mutually exclusive.” Interestingly, Fortune writes that Quicken Loans, the 2nd Best Company to Work For, is also up there because of “its fun, family friendly workplace.” And that’s the common thread through the list. Digest this – Fortune’s year 2008 Best Paying Companies list gives the same Google the unbelievable last rank; clearly proving that being the best company to work for has nothing to do with pay!

Katherine Karl (Marshall University) and Joy Peluchette (University of Southern Indiana) perhaps wrote the rule book on this issue, How does workplace fun impact employee perceptions.... Their finding was succinctly put; and they wrote, “Our results showed that employees who experienced fun in the workplace had greater satisfaction with their job!” Renowned international behavioural scientist Robert Nelson comments, “There’s a big difference between getting people to come to work and getting them to do their best work. Making work fun brings out the best in people.” The notoriously likable Herb Kelleher, CEO, Southwest Airlines, quotes about the employees he hires, “What we are looking for, first and foremost, is a sense of humour!” The last century’s most admired CEO, Jack Welch, writes in this issue of 4Ps B&M how you, as a CEO, have to be “dead serious” about managing employee emotions and being passionate about it at every moment! Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple (Yes! With Steve Jobs!!) gave the following title to his 2006 autobiography – How I invented the PC, co-founded Apple and had fun doing it. Of course, work is worship. But fun mixed judiciously with work is what the world’s excellent CEOs recommend if you want the very best out of your people.

And that, unfortunately, is what my first Hitlerian boss never understood... In fact, I still get nightmares of Ahuja. He’s my Vietnam post-war trauma experience. My wife now calls my symptoms the Ahuja Syndrome. I call it the Love Guru’s kiss. Yeah, baby, yeah...


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