If you are already not aware of who Rana Kapoor is or what is it all about YES Bank Saga, then read about it. TL;DR is — Rana Kapoor is an Indian banker who setup YES bank and somewhere lost his moral compass that undid his creation and the bank was put under restrictions by RBI, the regulator of Indian banking.
What were all the traits that undid Rana Kapoor, and how can you do a self-check if you too are not a Rana Kapoor in the making ?
- KNOW YOUR NORTH STAR: Rana was forthcoming in providing loans to Industrial biggies who otherwise were having a tough time getting loans from other banks due to risky industry exposure or low credit ratings. He might not have been malicious, and he might have done these in good faith. But he did not know his north Star.
The North Star (or pole star) is the only visible celestial body which has a still place. Everyone should have a north-star. The values, principles, beliefs which are non-negotiable and unwavering in any circumstances- a real north-star quality does not include anyone other than me and is not dependent upon any circumstance. The world around you may change drastically and you may find your personal aspects and perspectives changing as a reaction, but this anchor, which you strive for, should be sacrosanct.
अटल, अविचल, अडिग — If you don’t already have a north-star, pledge that you will have one very soon. You need not advertise it, but you will feel the difference in everything you do. Life will become a tad difficult, in the beginning once you have that “one non-negotiable” thing to live for 24X7.
The good thing about knowing your north-star is that it need not be glamorous or big and hairy. It can be as simple as — “I can be depended upon to complete a task”, “My quality of work will be unquestionable”, “I am a stickler for punctuality” etc. Identifying your north-star and sticking to it will cause you to lose many friends as well as attract many new people, and it’s a tough game sticking to your own.
In interviews, I always make it a point to ask candidate “What is your north-star? What is that one thing that you stand for, which is un-shakable” Once they answer, I seek about instances when they had to exhibit their unwavering north-star, or any other sacrifices which they might have to done. North-Star is something which doesn’t have anything to do with years of experience.
In your organization or team, If you know anyone who has a north-star quality (it can be anything), consider yourself lucky. A high performance team is one which has every member having at least one north-star quality.
Rana Kapoor lowered the priority of due-diligence process whenever it came to granting loans to his Industrialist friends. He could not antagonize the very patrons with whom he partied day and night.
If you too find yourself not committing to a north-star quality, you will find yourself becoming victim to a circumstance in which you find yourself not making a good judgement.
2. KEEP PARALLEL TRACKS OF RELATION — While this may sound counter-intuitive, when dealing professionally, you should master the art of maintaining two tracks with people who may be your customer as well as friends — A friendly track, and a professional track.
If you are friends with your colleague, then your relation should not come in the way of your judging your friends work when it comes to office desk. For eg.: A Developer and a QA on a project can have a healthy relation in work with the developer knowing that the QA is going to find issues in his code and it is only going to make him better at coding. But if both of them get so involved in their friendship that they are sacrificing their jobs expectation to make the friendship friction-free, then that is worse for both of them personally as well professionally.
In one of my earlier assignments as SRE Head, it was my mandate to make sure all production systems are up and running with the fine SLAs. During the exercise of making things robust and weather-proof, frictions with many teams including Delivery, Technology and Deployment teams was common. But you gotta what you gotta do! Gradually, everyone starts understanding the concept of north star
Rana Kapoor should not have bonhomie’d with the Industrial friends in the very first place, because they were going to be his customers. Even if he bonhomie’d, he should have stuck to his due diligence and said NO to a loan if it sounded a bad deal. Even for Judicial officers worldwide, the general recommendation is to keep away from social events at large, lest they socialize with people and waver at delivering a judgement when it comes to an acquaintance involved in a case.
If you too find yourself agreeing with your peers or colleagues on contentious items because you don’t want to antagonize your relation, then some of your decisions may come to hound you later.
You have to stay upright and it should be visible to your peers that you are good to grab a bottle with when it comes to partying, but you will be a stickler for ethics and accountability when it comes to professional association. Sooner or later, the world around may come to resent you, and then respect you.
3. DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN HELPING AND CORRUPTING
When I was running my startup a few years ago, there was a time after 2008 recession, that we were unable to fend for ourselves and went to our business mentor for funding to let us sustain business and pay expenses and salaries. This mentor had introduced us to many businesses and earlier helped up expand our business with some funding. It was a 4 hour discussion with the mentor, who in the end was able to convince us that the problems we were facing were not because of recession but due to our poor Sales and collection processes.
And he did not give us any funds!
And that was a blessing, because we got our house in order — went aggressive in inside sales/up-sells, became stricter in collections (backed by superior operations and service) and we came in green within 3 months. All this while, we were supported by our employees as well!
When I look back, If our mentor had supported us that time, we would never have had a chance to step back and re-assess and re-invent ourselves. He would have “corrupted” us by giving us a life-line at that time.
Rana Kapoor routinely identified businesses which no one wanted to touch because their books were very very bad and he granted them loans. This is not helping. When you do this, you are reinforcing their less-than-efficient behaviors which have brought them here in the very first place! This removes any room for improvement for organic growth.
If you find yourself coming to aid of someone whose current precarious condition is an outcome of his own (maybe unknowingly) bad decisions in the past, then you need to stop and think — Are you also giving him a lesson to not repeat the mistakes ? Is the person sane enough and repenting and guaranteeing that his judgments will be different next time ?
Helping someone in need should never be the issues — But such helps if not accompanied by gyaan on how to avoid such messes, and acknowledgement of gyaan — will lead to your help being sought chronically!
Catching these traits and signs in yourself at the beginning of years will keep your moral compass intact and give you the confidence to forge ahead successfully!