Sunil Bharti Mittal and Leadership Styles04/04/2020
For a business to excel, leadership is vital. What makes great leaders? Is it their courage? Their business acumen? Their expert knowledge? Their ability to organize? Truly great leaders have a specific blend of skills. But they also possess something else; certain characteristics which are harder to define.
A leader is somebody who sets the direction and inspires other people. A leader is able to influence others in meetings or when making decisions. This helps to achieve the goals of the organization. Enterprise has leaders at all levels of its business, not just senior management.
Sunil Bharti Mittal is the founder, chairman and group CEO of Bharti Enterprises. The USD 8.3 billion turnover company runs India’s largest GSM-based mobile phone service and world’s fifth largest wireless company with over 190 million customers across 19 countries in Asia and Africa.
He is a game-changer who dared to redefine the age-old telecom model and emerged as a winner. His new approach of co-partnership and virtual integration are unique approaches in the telecom sector which has seen great success. The quantum growth that Bharti AirTel has witnessed in little more than a decade has been possible only because of the high passion and round-the-clock alertness of Sunil Mittal to take advantage of every opportunity that came his way.
A brief history:
After graduating, Mittal borrowed $1,500 from his father and set up a bicycle parts business in Ludhiana in his native Punjab. Aware of its limited potential, he moved to Delhi in the 1980s and spotting a potential market, started selling imported generators, with profit margins of up to 100 per cent. As the Indian government began to lift trading restrictions in 1991, Mittal moved into the nascent telecommunications market, supplying handsets. He was one of the first Indian entrepreneurs to identify the mobile telecom business as a major growth area. His plans were finally approved by the Government in 1994 and he launched services in Delhi in 1995, when Bharti Cellular Limited (BCL) was formed to offer cellular services under the brand name AirTel. Within a few years Bharti became the first telecom company to cross the 2-million mobile subscriber mark.
A dreamer, an achiever
He has the knack to strike at the right place at the right time. His contribution in shaping
the modern telecom industry in India earned him the sixth place in the Forbes list of ‘India’s 40 Richest’. He is very passionate about his work. He is highly transparent, sometimes even at the cost of having setbacks because of that. His ability to take decision at the time of uncertainties and keeping the organizational objectives & employees’ aspirations as much as possible distinguishes him from others. He had a strong and wide vision; he knew that the Indian economy was at the threshold of becoming one of the largest emerging economies in the world. The Bharti group launched the “AirTel” brand of mobile telephone service in Delhi in 1995. Today, the AirTel brand is the biggest mobile phone brand in the country. Truly, his vision has transformed the lives of millions across India.
These are the true qualities of a leader which I really admire. But the path that he adopted was not a bed of roses.
The initial years of the cellular business were not as rosy as they are today. The role-out of telecom services required a lot of initial investments and the returns were not adequate due to the low subscriber base. With the help of private equity investors and foreign partner Singapore Telecommunications Limited, Singapore’s largest telecommunications company, he successfully met the challenges of capital intensive role-out, cut throat competition and policy changes. He once said “Having a positive frame of mind can help overcome extremely bad situations.” A leader must always remain calm and should not take decisions under stress.
His Leadership Style
He strongly believed in giving the best in whatever we do and having faith in oneself. He adopted a leadership style which develops its people to the level they need not have leaders to guide them. This helped him establishing a strong connect with his employees.
Bharti’s “Professionally Managed, Entrepreneur Supported” model
Responsibility towards employees
Employees are one of the most important drivers of growth and success for any organization is its people. Sunil Mittal’s mantra for employee is delight focus on 5P’s.
- Processes and
According to Sunil Mittal essentials to build a strong place in competitive market are:
- Ability to take decisions amidst uncertainties
- Reading customer mind and predicting the future consumption trend.
- Keep your speed double to the change in market.
- Alignment of organizational objectives & employees’ aspirations.
- Quickly respond to changes in macro environment.
- Build a learning organization.
- Retaining talent
- Building a team by recruiting talent
Sunil Mittal strives to imbibe the Level 5 leadership model in his firm. Level 5 leadership is an empirical finding, not an ideological one.
- Conferred with the ‘Global Vision’ award by US-India Business Council, a business advocacy organization jointly formed by the United States and India.
- Becomes First Entrepreneur from India to join Elite Ranks of Babson’s Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs.
- Chosen as one of the top entrepreneurs in the world for the year 2000.
- IT Man of the Year Award 2002 from Dataquest and CEO Of the Year, 2002 Award (World HRD Congress).
- Heads a succesful empire with a market capitalization of approximately $ 2 billion.
- Bharti Foundation has funded over 50 schools in Madhya Pradesh.
- Member of National Council of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Chairman, Indo-US Joint Business Council, Member, Advisory Committee constituted by ministry of IT.