My Leader

Topics: Sri Lanka, Leadership, Change management Pages: 11 (3937 words) Published: February 4, 2008




Rasika Perera

MBA Programme – Preston University USA


"Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes." – Peter Druker

Two years ago, I had an experience with a leader that profoundly shaped the rest of my life. I decided to switch my career into marketing stream from sales & the invitation came to join Finlays Tea Estates. Just few weeks after my initial discussion, I met the Chairman of the organization and after a brief introduction to the organization he said. "I think you could head our marketing wing. If you decide to join us I want you to be in full control of the estate operations with regard to manufacture & you'll be telling them what to manufacture, the standards they should maintain, grade percentages...etc." I was shocked. Who was I to tell the superintendents who were in the planting industry for last two to three decades or may be even more? Sensing my doubt, he simply looked me in the eye and said, "I have great confidence in you. You can do this. I will give you the insights to the organization which will help you to do your job and built the understanding / trust among estate management."

His confidence, his ability to see more in me than I saw in myself, his willingness to entrust me with the responsibility that would stretch me to my potential unlocked something inside me. I accepted the assignment and gave my best. It trapped me physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I grew within a very short span of time. I saw others grow too. I saw patterns in basic leadership principles. I found my "voice" And it was my leader that inspired me to find it & it was Mr. Naresh Ratwatte who is the Chairman/Managing Director of Finlays Tea Estates – Sri Lanka.

I realised in time that I wasn't the only one he treated this way. His affirmation, his ability to unite us in vision towards our work that inspired and motivated us, his pattern of providing us with enabling resources and empowering us as true leaders with accountability and stewardship became the norm in our entire organization. We began to take initiative & lead in our own departments, and the results were remarkable.

(In everyone's life, at some time. Our inner fire goes out…..….It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.)


It was one of those working days, the time was around 7.15am.I was on my way to office, suddenly my phone start ringing & it was non other than my Chairman. There's something about Mr. Naresh Ratwatte's voice. A certain ring to it that resonates; it's not nearly a baritone but has a nice bass to it. More importantly there's a certain crispness to it that makes you sit up and take notice. The first question was that whether I'm driving, because he's a person whom always thinks of the safety of his employees. I could remember when one of our tea factories was burn to the ground the 1st question of him to the estate manager was about the factory staff; whether anyone has got caught to the fire, any injuries to them...Etc. Soon after the confirmation from me that I'm not driving, what he said from his own words….

"Rasika..I'm traveling to UK next week …can u get some tea packs designed & get a blend done from our estates to suit the UK market….." that's all what he said & left the rest entirely to me . In the end Finlays Tea Estates first ever Tea Pack was designed….He's a true leader & has a good understanding of his employees capacities. He knows exactly to whom to delegate with detail instructions & whom to mention simply the requirement. In the nutshell he has mastered the art of how to get things done from others.

A British parliamentarian, Cyril Smith - famous for his sense of humour - related the following story in an after-dinner...
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