MS Rao is one of the most recognizable names in business education in India. He was also among the millions of victims of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
An acclaimed speaker and author of more than 50 books, Rao contracted Covid in early 2022. It caused a stroke and he lost function in parts of his body, including his right hand. He was bedridden for 5 months.
Recovering from his home in Delhi, the Indian Air Force veteran, longtime educator and consultant and “father of soft leadership” recounts Poets&Quants that “I am passionate about teaching, writing, speaking and advising. I’m going back to class soon. I will write books. My message is to be resilient. Never abandon.”
“SOFT LEADERSHIP” PRACTITIONERS INCLUDE GANDHI, MLK, DALAI LAMA
Nominated by Thinker360 As the #1 influencer in entrepreneurship, culture and business strategy, Rao is an international leadership expert and recognized executive coach, educator, author, speaker and consultant with 40 years of experience. experience in leadership development. Until his illness, he taught at private institutions in India and conducted training programs for various companies and educational institutions – work he intends to continue when he is fully recovered. Among his best-known works are See the light in you, 21 success sutras for leadersand Vision 2030: One Million Global Leaders. This latest book highlights his passion for students and his vision for India to become an economic superpower through the training of one million student leaders; he says so far he has taught and trained more than 50,000 people towards the goal.
Rao is perhaps best known as the “father of flexible leadership”, emphasizing traits such as character, charisma and conscientiousness to lead organizations effectively. He cites historical examples: Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama all practiced or practice gentle leadership, Rao says, contributing broadly to society and making a difference in the lives of others.
“Soft leadership,” Rao wrote in CEOWorld in 2020, “is not submissive leadership or lame leadership but assertive leadership where gentle leaders adopt pleasant and polite communication to carry out their tasks. It is a mixture of courageous leadership, enlightened leadership, servant leadership and inspiring leadership. In summary, flexible leadership can be defined as the process of setting goals; influencing people through persuasion; building strong teams; negotiating them with a win-win attitude; respecting their failures; holding them at hand; constantly motivate them; align their energies and efforts; recognize and appreciate their contribution to achieving organizational goals and objectives with an emphasis on soft skills. It is based on the right mindset, the right skills and the right tools.
IN A CHANGING WORLD, “SOFT LEADERSHIP IS VERY ESSENTIAL”
As Rao says P&Q, flexible leadership “can be defined as the process of setting goals; influencing people by persuasion; build strong teams; negotiate them with a win-win attitude; respect their failures; hold them by hand; constantly motivate them; align their energies and efforts; recognize and appreciate their contribution to the achievement of organizational goals and objectives with an emphasis on soft skills. It is based on the right mindset, the right skills and the right tools.
“Since the world is changing rapidly, this leadership perspective is absolutely essential.”
B schools have a vital role to play, Rao says. As they face the need to evolve and reinvent themselves, he says, the opportunities abound.
“The future of management education is bright globally despite the fact that it currently faces several challenges,” says Rao. “B schools need to take corrective action and adopt innovative methods in curriculum and teaching pedagogy.
“There must be coordinated efforts from all stakeholders, including industry, educational institutions, faculty, students, parents, opinion leaders, non-profit organizations and governments to ensure relevance and achieve excellence in management education globally.”
See the following pages for Poets&Quantsinterview with soft leadership guru MS Rao on the present and future of management education in India and globally.