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You are Fired !


I don’t know Mr. Cyrus Mistry. Nor Mr. Ratan Tata. Nor am I a corporate person. I do not understand the heavy processes involved in corporate governance, let alone the complexity of this situation and i have no right to give opinions but i feel for this person – Mr Cyrus Mistry.

The technicalities will keep unfolding in the coming days, but what goes through my mind is “What must Cyrus, the regular guy who loves golf, be going through this moment?

A regular person fired goes through varied reactions, ranging from shock to anger to betrayal. When it is someone at the top of the hierarchy, like it is in this case, the psychological impact if not more traumatic, could be significantly far deeper  because so much more is at stake. Keep wondering if there is some spiritual life lesson unfolding here for Cyrus Mistry – after all to be put on a “throne” one day and then to be dethroned another fine day, is not in the destiny of many men.

Why has he (Cyrus) been fired/sacked/removed  without a valid cause? From hearing all the panels on TV. discussing and giving their esteemed opinions on this boardroom dispute, I feel like I’m watching some kind of a battle of the good vs the bad guy. Where a few of the men do seem to speak in defence of Mr. Cyrus Mistry but others like Mr Gurcharan says, “To find a successor to Ratan Tata, a global search was made by the Tata Group. He was replaced by Cyrus Mistry, by the largest shareholders in the Tata Group. But he is not a professional manager. The next person who is appointed as the head of Tata Group should be a genuine professional, who is ready to take some hard decisions.The Hindu Business line.

I fail to understand that statement – what does he mean by saying Mr Cyrus Mistry is not a professional manager and the next person should be a genuine professional !!!?

At one point, Mr. Gurcharan, during the interview, also said “there is no legal basis for Cyrus Mistry to go to court and he ideally should quietly fade into the sunset (or was it horizon)” !? Why should he? Was he not part of this ’empire’ for so many years? Did he not deserve a more dignified way to be removed IF that was the main aim ?

So why was he ‘sacked’ ?

The statement thrown around by Tata Sons that his removal came largely from “repeated departures from the culture and ethos of the group” – appears like a life line someone sinking uses when they have not enough valid explanations for the drastic step they have taken by firing their own “Leader” . I mean, I believe the search for someone worthy of taking the helms of this vast conglomerate took 18 months or so (!) and Cyrus came out victorious over considerations of big wicks like PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Vindi Banga; Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, and  even Google’s Nikesh Arora.

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, one of India’s biggest trader-investors, called the announcement the “best news in a market wrecked with scams” back then when it was announced.

The Indiatoday (November 25th 2011) says: Cyrus was chosen also because of the reputation of being a smart strategist within the group. It’s also an investment in a younger mindset. (For more endorsements for appointing Cyrus back then, including by Mr R. Tata himself, read: India Today

Yet today, this very same leader is under and (already) fire(d)..literally !?

So can it be said that the special committee made a ‘mistake’, after a search of over 1 and half years in selecting the Leader for the Tata Group? or the fact that Mr. Ratan Tata himself said “He is intelligent and qualified to take on the responsibility” and took him under his wing for over a year to “give him the exposure and operating experience to equip him to undertake the full responsibility of the group…” I don’t see anyone mention that or imply failure on their part ! And rightly so, as one cannot take responsibility for another’s actions.

But here, it would appear that Mr Mistry is being made to take responsibility for the ‘poor financials’ of this vast conglomerate that is the TATAS – that too within 4 years of taking the reins of leadership.

Most know that Mistry was shaking up the $100 billion company by changing the management structure to bring in new faces at senior levels and was also struggling with issues on a number of fronts in recent months, including a costly settlement with Japanese telecom operator NTT Docomo and the sale of Tata Steel’s loss-making UK business. But those ups and downs can and do happen in many organisations. So unless there is some major issue at stake here or misappropriation of funds, did it demand such a drastic step?

Maybe there is no room for softness in such corporate battles but I can’t help wonder – is the constant focus on profit margins over human value or the bad blood created, worth it in the end ?

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom ~ Viktor Frankl

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