We are our own enemies: Murthy

In his good-bye letter to the shareholders and employees, published in the company’s Annual Report for 2010-11, he wrote “There is no external enemy. Our failures are because of our lack of commitment to our cause, our inability to accept meritocracy, our indifference to honesty and want of a good work ethic amongst our leaders.”

Murthy will step down from Infosys as chairman after working for 30 years since its inception. Murthy would be succeeded by well known banker K V Kamath as chairman of the company with effect from August 21. Though Murthy has been re-designated as ‘Chairman-emeritus’ by the company’s board, in future he will play no role in running Infosys, the second largest software company in the country.

According to him performance alone is the key differentiator. “Performance leads to recognition, recognition brings respect and respect brings power. Therefore, if India wants to be a superpower as we keep hoping, the only instrument is performance.”

Talking about leadership, Murthy said it is all about talking bold and firm decisions with incomplete information in an environment of uncertainty. As an example of taking a very difficult decision under uncertainty, Murthy mentioned his move to walk away from a Fortune-10 company that contributed as much as 25 per cent of revenue.

Refusing to accept unreasonable business terms, Murthy took this tough call. “Leadership by example is what creates trust in people to follow a leader. As long as a leader is able to show his or her sacrifice and commitment to a cause, others will follow him or her,” Murthy wrote. 

To create a long-term future for an organisation, Murthy feels that creating a sense of ownership among employees is extremely important. He wrote, “Such ownership comes from fair, merit-based and generous sharing of wealth and perquisites among each member of the company.” To give an example of sharing the wealth, he pointed out that Infosys is the only company in India that has given away Rs 50,000 crore (at current stock prices) of stock options to employees.

Turned bureaucratic

Infosys, according to Murthy, also had its share of great dilemmas and sadness. At times during its 30-year journey, Infosys turned bureaucratic and some of its leaders failed to take quick and firm decisions.

“Being accused of violating our own high standard of business ethics recently made me lose several nights of sleep,” Murthy wrote, possibly hinting at what the former HR Director Mohandas Pai mentioned in a televison interview after announcing his resignation from the company. “But then, this tapestry of happy and not-so-happy incidents is normal and keeps life exciting,” Murthy quickly added.

On  a personal note Murthy wrote leaving Infosys was like parents sending away their daughter after her marriage. “The best analogy that I can think of for this separation between Infosys and me is that of one’s daughter getting married and leaving her parents’ home,” Murthy said in an emotional last letter to Infosys’ shareholders.

Murthy said that his children do not believe him, even today, that he loved them more than anything else. “When I was spending 16-hour days in the office and was away from home for as many as 330 days in a year, it was hard for my children to believe in my commitment to the family,” he said.

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