When you’re climbing the corporate ladder, you may model yourself on your superior. But sometimes it’s better to stay true to yourself—even if that means developing a distinctly different style.
For 17 years, Tiger Tyagarajan worked closely with his boss, Pramod Bhasin, at Genpact. Bhasin founded Genpact in 1997. Together, they turned it into India’s biggest business process outsourcing firm.
Tyagarajan and Bhasin bonded over their shared interests. Both admired Jack Welch, General Electric’s former CEO. They also disliked bureaucracy.
But they adopted contrasting approaches to. Tyagarajan sought to build teams from the ground up by recruiting employees with raw talent and allowing them to learn and grow on the job.
Rejecting his subordinate’s team-building strategy, Bhasin didn’t put much stock in starting groups from scratch and letting them evolve over time. He frowned on people who lacked the tools to make an immediate contribution.
As a result, they often clashed over personnel matters such as how to handle poor performers. Tyagarajan would make his case in private. He never challenged Bhasin in front of others.
By sticking to his beliefs about the best way to lead and cultivate employees, Tyagarajan gained Bhasin’s respect. Bhasin eventually selected Tyagarajan to replace him as Genpact’s CEO in 2011.
— Adapted from Forget A Mentor, Find A Sponsor, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Harvard Business School Press.