The Rise And Fall of The Right Man and Woman
“What’s on?” Lulu, my parrot asked. It was a beautiful morning in February. The weather was pleasant. I was sipping my tea while reading a newspaper. I had not noticed that Lulu, my parrot, had flown in and was perched on the window grill.
“Hello Lulu!” I kept the newspaper aside. “The newspapers are carrying interesting stories. Some of those are better covered by the newspapers than TV Channels.”
“Oh, are you referring to Russia – Ukraine war?”
“No. It is so well covered by BBC, CNN and the like. Take Chitra Ramakrishnan and the Yogi story for example.”
“Oh yes. She had her way in everything. Appointing and Raising her Yogi in disguise Anand Subramanian’s, salary, and generally conducting her affairs with little regard to the governance.”
“So true. She came from a family of accountants, and she is highly qualified, she surely knew what she was doing was not right.”
“That’s the point. There are some persons who think that they are always right.”
“You remind me of my school days. Some of my friends always thought that we were right and the umpire was wrong while playing cricket. It sometimes led to violent scenes.”
“Chitra may be an exception, I thought, till I remembered Chanda Kochar. It is no secret that she was an autocrat who forgot her mentor Kamat’s ways of running the business.”
“Chanda Kochar case is a terrible one, it shows where hubris could lead to. Chitra is also in the same boat.”
“Did you read the story on BharatPe founder Ashneer Grover?
“Nope! What does it say?”
“It quotes from Ashneer Grover’s resignation. When you read it, you wonder how people can get carried away, not just by emotions but by overestimating their capabilities!”
“Really? Must be interesting. There was a resignation which became popular on the social media. It was a single word resignation – ‘Thoo!’ Ha, ha!! Why don’t you read out some part from Grover’s resignation to me?”
“He writes to the Board of Directors, ‘Your views of businesses and problems on the ground are so colored by the windows of the Ivory Tower in which you all reside that you have no connect whatsoever with the human element of the business….. You treat us Founders as slaves – pushing us to build multi-billion-dollar businesses and cutting us down at will. I am the rebel slave who must be hung by the tree so none of the other slaves can dare to be like me ever again.”
“Huh! He thinks he is right and they are wrong. And he is playing victim.”
“Grover said that the company will not be able to “find a single act of impropriety” against him. That’s what they do. They play victim when challenged effectively.”
“I remember reading that Grover an audio clip surfaced online where he was heard abusing a Kotak employee. And he says you can’t find a single act of impropriety! That’s a sure recipe to create a toxic culture. Phew!!”
“Do you think Putin is in the same league?”
“Going by the reports. What do you say of Xi Jinping of China?”
“Ditto, my friend.”
“Donald Trump takes the cake. But why go so far in search of such leaders? Ha, ha! Tell me, the question is how do you explain this phenomenon?”
“‘Right Man Theory’ explains it.”
“Let me quote what Colin Wilson wrote, ‘In 1950, van Vogt, a science fiction writer began to study examples of male chauvinism in divorce cases. He observed that there is a type of man who demands one code of conduct for himself and another for his wife. The chief characteristic of this type of male is an obsession with being right! Under no circumstances would he ever admit that he might have been wrong. He was labelled ‘the right man’”.
“I see your point. That is where the downfall starts when you demand one code of conduct for yourself and another for others. But Chitra, Chanda, Grover they appear so normal persons, that puzzles me.”
“Colin Wilson has the answer, ‘The really disturbing implications of the Right Man theory begin to emerge when we try to draw the line between ‘unbalanced’ people and decent people like us. For it proves impossible to do it. All healthy normal human beings dislike being in the wrong; we all feel embarrassed about making mistakes and being seen to make them. What is wrong with the Right Man is that he has never conquered his childish desire to have everything his way…’”.
“You said it, Lulu! This is why we must introspect and listen to others.”
“True. Parents they never teach us to listen, they only teach us to speak! Do you get me?”
“Hah! Are you blaming it on parents?” As we laughed, Lulu fluttered his wings and landed on my shoulder.
The newspapers are carrying stories within stories.
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Pic courtesy Unsplash
So true! There is a ‘right’ man in all of us seemingly balanced, rational & ‘normal’ people! But most of us either because of our strongly values or innate common sense know where to give it a break ! Perhaps what screws/screwed up people like Chitra, Chanda and Ashneer is the power they wield (ed) and the ego trip/hubris that comes with it! It’s the self declared position that ‘King can do no wrong’ that brings them down from the pedestal to bite the dust !
Can we learn ‘not being right man’ now? How?
Right man is autocratic. What we need to develop is participative leadership which stresses on dialogue/discussions before taking decisions.
Thanks for insightful blog.
Thanks for another excellent article.
Your Right Man/Woman title is very apt and timely. Agree that the rise of the names mentioned was applauded all across. There are always knives out, whenever the fall takes place.
The right ‘family background’, ‘premier school’ ‘Company values’ etc are no Insurance in such instances . Perhaps Maslow hierarchy of needs needs a calibration is few cases.
In the case of ICICI and NSE – did the Boards entrusted with supervision and governance matters play their roles at the right time ? On the contrary-they have defended/recognised the respective CEO !!Making amends later does not help.
Please see the eminent names on these 2 Boards . They are highly regarded individuals who participate in debates and write on various Social and ethical subjects …..
Perhaps “To err is Human” is applicable here
Thought provoking article, once again Sir. A pattern emerges from incidences around us. .
A question comes to my mind . .
Is ‘intelligent questioning’ or ‘honestly objecting’ now an eroding art, on account of higher-ups continue to carry larger-&-larger self-worth notion of themselves?
There are Right Men/Women. And there are Yes Men/Women. The latter play a critical supportive, almost looking like mentoring, role is abetting the former. The former finally fall and latter always win/benefit!!
Good morning Vivek. Good one. The right man way of thinking is more black and white. I think the toughest thing is to decide within the gray. Where do I draw the line between assertion and aggression? Where do I draw the line between tolerance and reaction? Where do I draw the line between need and greed? I think these are the toughest to decide and comment upon as each of us not only draws lines at different places and during different times but also jas a story to justify where the line is drawn. I have loved the lectures on “justice” by the Harvard professor,Michael Sandel and some decisions are so contextual that it seems almost impossible to make a judgement on.I seek not to justify but express my own dilemmas.