Be a Leader of People, Not Numbers

Ram Charan is a highly sought after business advisor and speaker famous among senior executives for his uncanny ability to solve their toughest business problems. For more than thirty-five years, Dr. Charan has worked behind the scenes with top executives at some of the world's most successful companies, including GE, Verizon, Novartis, Dupont, Thomson Corporation, Honeywell, KLM, Bank of America, and MeadWestvaco. He has shared his insights with many others through teaching and writing.

Born in India, Charan moved to the US to attend Harvard Business School, where he earned MBA and doctorate degrees. After receiving his doctorate degree, he served on the Harvard Business School faculty.

Charan is the author of "The Talent Masters," "Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done," and many other books and articles. 

  • Transcript


Question: How can business leaders foster a sense of trust among staff who may be in different buildings or indeed different countries?

Ram Charan: If you’re in a leadership position, remind yourself every day: you’re a leader of people first, not a leader of numbers. In a global game, you’re going to have by definition, people working with you and for you that are in different cultures, different languages as mother tongues, that do work in different government environments, and their image of social systems are different. You need to be successful to know these about your people. You need to have patience to learn about them. You need to earn their respect; you need to earn their trust.

In the virtual global game, do not confuse communications with emails. Communication is a human touch, emails is not a human touch. So you need to figure out a way to have the human touch with the people you are working with.

In a company like 3M, some 55% of their revenues come from the non-North American geography. And there are fantastic leaders there who are technology companies, CEOs locally, but they have the human touch. They have Chinese working with them, Indians working with them, the Europeans working with them, the Brazilians working with them. But the first rule is the people side.

Recorded January 4, 2011
Interviewed by Max Miller
Directed by Jonathan Fowler
Produced by Elizabeth Rodd