Leaders Know How to Unlearn


Learning is never ending. I discovered it when I passed my engineering to enter my first job. I was always under impression that the tough part of life is now over, but life appeared to have created a complete list of exams for me, many of them I have completed while other are yet to come.
Learning is a way of life and most of our life we spend learning new things. The most difficult part, which few look into, is the art of unlearning.

My parents taught me to be patriotic. In their terms, patriotism also meant that I should not leave my country for either higher education nor for any job. India would be the best place as it would give me ample opportunities to contribute back to my society and myself. In the times when they were young, swadeshi movement was all about that; however with time the definitions and context change for almost everything. Unfortunately, my parents did not attempt unlearning the old context to bring in new context of patriotism which was all about taking India to become a global power which directly implied that anyone should look at contributing to country’s image and economy from anywhere.

One of my old relative still treats air travel as unsafe. While he does never travel on flight himself, he discourages everyone in his own family to not to use this mode of travel. His unlearning never happened, but the next generation remained vintage just because the window of unlearning was never given.

The most challenging unlearning which a section of Indian society still struggles to understand is the birth of a female child. While the world has moved on, few still want to hold on to old believes without giving any room to new thoughts and changed environment. Many of you would appreciate that even global terror has a big element of lack of unlearning of old believes giving way to new thoughts.

It is therefore very important that we spend almost the same amount of time trying to find new ways of doing things by constantly challenging what is already existing. Once we have found new methods, practice ourselves first before showcasing others to follow suit. Most of the great leaders have been a great learners and few were great un-learners. Those who were great un-learners, remained great for long while others perished.

I have applied this habit in my own life and I constantly challenge the ways of doing things and established wisdoms. While the idea is not to be disruptive, but it gives most of the times a new and better way of doing things which helps me remain a leader with a vision.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by IndiasGreatest.com ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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