IIT Bans 31 Firms: What Leaders Can Learn

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi)

More than 100 students from IIT have been affected because of last minute revoking of job offers by start-ups in India; students are left alone on the road to corporate success. These students had visualized their careers in these booming start-ups but now they have been pushed into a no man’s land.

Two parties, which are playing a vital role in charting India’s positive growth rate, are at loggerheads! On one side we have India’s most prestigious education institutions – the IITs. And on the other side, we have the start-ups that are providing employment to the youth in the country and are driving India’s growth rate. To point fingers at either one party would not be fair. But when we study this case as a leadership consultant, we can draw out several powerful leadership lessons.

  1. Keep Your Commitments:
    People do not believe what you ‘say,’ but they will believe what you ‘do.’ This is a classic case of missed commitments. The companies made a commitment and later went back on their word. In their book, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner share powerful insights on what makes a leader great. One of the traits of a great leader is credibility. The easiest way to develop credibility is to, “Do what you say you would do.” Keeping commitments can help a leader develop credibility with the people around them.
  2. change is difficult. not changing is fatal.Be Change Ready:
    With their job offers revoked, the students get their first corporate lesson – be change ready. The conditions that are today may not remain same throughout. Students have two choices in this situation – either they can react or respond. Spending time worrying over spilt milk would not help. Leaders too face such changing situations, for example when a customer calls off a business deal out of the blue. The leader must deal with the situation instead of running away from it. Time spent worrying is a business loss. Leaders must respond by looking at the possibilities rather than singing the blues.
  3. Communicate Openly:
    Communicate Openly and HonestlyDelaying offer letters first and revoking them later without clear and open communication can cause mistrust and conflict. Leaders must be open in communication with their teams. When leaders communicate regularly and keep people informed they invest in a trusting relationship. It is just like maintaining an emotional bank account. When a leader fails to communicate and drops his commitments, he makes a withdrawal from the bank account. But when the leader communicates openly and shares useful insights with his team, he invests in the relationship. Communication is like a fertilizer that leaders can use to grow their positive relationships.
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IITs have rolled out just the first list of banned companies! We don’t know what’s coming next. For the students the message is loud and clear – “be change ready” and for the companies who failed to live up to the commitments – “communicate and build trust.” What do you think? Share your thoughts!

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