An Icon to Emulate

2012 will dawn soon without the remarkable services of an Icon who is stepping down…Do you know whom???
His name springs to any Indian’s mind when you speak about the Delhi Metro.
Ever heard of E Sreedharan, guys & girls?
So what about him? Many people step down…This stepping down is different. He is turning almost 80!
And he is still working? Yes…
That is why he is an Icon. I write icon with a capital I because in a great nation like India where there are billions of people and where there are hardly few whom the young like you can look up to (thanks to our netas and babus), here is one who made a difference by being in within the system and remaining unaffected by the system.
The Wikipedia page on Mr. Sreedharan speaks of an astonishing anecdote: “In 1963, a cyclone washed away parts of Pamban Bridge that connected Rameshwaram to mainland Tamil Nadu. The Railways set a target of six months for the bridge to be repaired while Sreedharan’s boss, under whose jurisdiction the bridge came, reduced it to three months. Sreedharan was put in-charge of the execution and he restored the bridge in just 46 days.”
An engineer with the Indian Railways, he was the architect behind the successful commissioning of the Konkan Railways. When there were hardly any links connecting the commercial capital of India – Mumbai – with the southern states of India, a 760 kilometre railway track was conceived, crossing many mountains, rivers and streams, along the Konkan Coast. With over 2000 bridges and a maze of nearly 100 tunnels, the project was a mammoth one given that it would be over undulating terrain. Truly an engineering marvel!!! It was executed in such a clinical way that it took only about 7 years to complete it. Mr. Sreedharan felt it could have been completed about a couple of years before but for the Harshad Mehta scam that shook the financial edifice of the country at that time.
From Konkan Raliways to head the Delhi Metro was an even more challenging affair and that too to remove the travel woes of the people in the national capital Delhi. Now as he steps down, he leaves a void – one that no one can fill in!
What is the success of Mr. E. Sreedharan? What can you emulate from him that can make you too successful?
On extensively reading about him, methinks it is this acronym: INSPIRE. In fact his middle name is INSPIRE! And pray, how does he INSPIRE?
Innovate: Sreedharan innovated in every field possible – financial, technological and managerial. At a time when the practice was to use only money from the government treasury to fund projects, he innovated by raising public bonds for funds! This is just one – his professional life is replete with such practical innovations.
Nurture: He nurtured the spirit of togetherness in his team. He practised and stressed on the fact that it is imperative to work towards common goals and the paramount one was of the well being of the society at large. 
Spiritual: Sreedharan clarifies that being spiritual is not religious. It is the respect and empathy you have for every living thing in this universe. “The essence of spirituality is to make a person pure in his mind and his thoughts.”
Professional: He is very professional and believes that to be successful in professional life one must have certain attitude and commitment to values. Sreedharan achieves timely completion of projects by dividing the project between sub-managers and giving them each a deadline and reviews daily progress reports. He also meets with top staff and consultants on a weekly basis. Every department displays a digital board that displays the date of completion of the next target. For him, ‘work is worship’ and he is known for his consistency and deliverance throughout his entire career tenure.
Integrity: Donning a crisp white shirt and an affable smile, Sreedharan is the epitome of everything that is punctual & honest. In the six decades of yeoman service to the nation, there has not even been a single instance where his integrity seemed questionable. In a world getting increasingly devoid of integrity, he is confident that a change will happen. In fact, he has gone a step ahead in that direction, forming a group of like-minded people to launch the Foundation for Restoration of National Values (FRNV).
Role Model: In his professional as well as personal life, Sreedharan is a role model. He walks his talk. It is said that he was offered lucrative jobs globally, some even about sixty times what he earns, yet unfazed, he stood by his passion and ideals. Such role models are very hard to come by. Very rarely do we come across role models who radiate remarkable success as well as impeccable character and virtues.
Enthusiasm: Passion for what one does is what generates enthusiasm. Sreedharan brims with vim and vigour. It is this that gives him the focus to go on even at a ripe age of 79!
And when he steps down from the top job as Managing Director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the nation salutes him – for being a trend setter, a change agent and more importantly a wonderful role model for youngsters to emulate.
So what are the lessons to learn from the life of this man who takes on high-tech complex projects, but leads a simple lifestyle? He is said to be a vegetarian and a frugal eater who doesn’t consume milk products.
Innovate, think and take the untrodden path.
Nurture in yourself the spirit of teamwork for common good.
Spirituality provides you the right kind of values to succeed.
Professional ethics determines your success as a leader.
Integrity gives magnetic charm to your personality.
Role Model – be one and practice what you preach.
Enthusiasm is infectious & generates focussed work.
You will be an employee in the near future. I sincerely hope that ES will INSPIRE you too to be a transformational leader and who knows, an ICON, too!!!
(I am proud to say that I share two things with this great Icon – he is from Palakkad in Kerala and studied at Government Victoria College, Palakkad – Me too!!! J)

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