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You must have noticed this in your own team and organization. People are different. Not everyone is extroverted, brimming with confidence, full of bonhomie and perpetually on-the -go. There are some who are more withdrawn, shy or hesitant. This does not mean that they do not possess admirable qualities or knowledge. It’s  just that they take longer to size up people and situations. They certainly take longer to warm up to others. They therefore are often not seen as being as social as their more outgoing team mates.

People like this can be very useful members of the team. All they need is a little more understanding on your part as their leader. Understand what they respond to and you will find they are as good- or even-better than their more boisterous team mates.

Mr. S. Ramadorai, President & CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is one of the most admired leaders in corporate India.  He heads one of the leading information technology companies in the world. With a workforce of over 74,000 professionals spread across more than 50 global delivery centres. Its clients include 7 of the Top 10 corporations in the Fortune 500 list of the largest corporations in the United States.

His leadership style is rather different from many others. He is seen to be less domineering and in your face, yet he has been singularly effective. .

Mr Ramadorai recalls many early instances when he got the heebie-jeebies at the mere instance of being summoned by his boss, or when asked to make client presentations. After TCS started attracting media attention his big fear was that his boss would put him in the spotlight at a press conference by asking him a question. “When you are worried it shows on your face,” he says.

Practice may not always make perfect but, as in Mr Ramadorai’s case, it does make things bearable. Parallel to TCS’s rise on the visibility chart, its admittedly shy boss has been compelled to break out of his diffident cocoon. “Every year I have become a different person. Now I interact with groups: the media, analysts, everybody.”

Mr Ramadorai, who has worked with TCS throughout his career, has developed an empathy for those crafted in the shy mould. “When you go through the transition yourself you can make a difference to a lot of other people who are reticent, introverted or merely different,” he explains. “Being different is not something to be unhappy, concerned or worried about. Shyness does not mean you are not competent; being quiet does not mean that you don’t know.”

Mr Ramadorai makes it a point to keep an eye out for TCS people who are taciturn of temperament. “For a leader it is a challenge to pull out people who, even though they are skilled, find themselves dumbfounded in a group. The worse thing you can do is put them on the defensive and hurt their confidence. The moment people feel they have been put on the mat and have lost their dignity, they stop relating to you and it takes a lot of time to fix this damage.”

Did you find what Mr. Ramadorai said about his early years and how to deal with others as inspiring as I did?

He realized early, like most effective managers do, that people are different.

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