LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES / It was possible to fix the collapsing big business IBM, which changed
the prevailing wisdom “small is beautiful”. Big companies too can be fast, responsive and effective, if the
competencies of leadership, focus and execution are applied as proved by Gerstner, who turned IBM’s vision
into reality, writes M R Chandramowly.
THERE are four kinds of people. “Those who make things happen”, “those to whom things happen”, “those
who watch things happen” and “those who don’t even know things are happening”. Those who make things
happen are the people who manage vision. They talk beyond today, get vision shared by every one and create
mileposts to gather support behind the vision. They inspire and motivate entire organisation.
In the history of modern business, many companies have come down from the rank of industrial leader to the
verge of extinct. But only one company has been the pinnacle of an industry fallen to near collapse and then,
beyond any one's expectation, returned to set the agenda. It was well on its way to being broken into
individual parts, but it was back in one piece; that is IBM. Lou Gerstner, Jr., the erstwhile CEO of IBM, is the
person who made things to happen. He re-established IBM's mission, as a “customer-focused provider of
computer solutions”. Gerstner made IBM once again, one of the world’s pre-eminent corporations.
Who say’s elephants can’t dance
A visionary who turned out IBM became so popular, the customers and programmers who worked for
competitors use to line up for Gerstner's autograph! He served as Chairman and CEO of IBM from April 1993 to
March 2002. This retired CEO did something interesting other than playing golf. He narrated the historical
turnaround of IBM, giving blow-by-blow account of the story in his book “Who say’s elephants can’t dance”.
The prevailing wisdom has been that small is beautiful. Small companies are fast, responsive and effective.
Large companies are slow, bureaucratic, unresponsive and ineffective. But