By Amit Goenka from PGPM Class of 2018
The recent HBO’s mini-series Chernobyl is one of the most provoking small-screen shows to have ever aired on the television. It is gripping, utterly chilling and heartbreaking. While we applaud the screenplay and phenomenal acting, this article aims to take a different standpoint. A standpoint, to highlight classic management lessons which are relevant even after 3 decades since the catastrophe happened.
The recent HBO’s mini-series Chernobyl is one of the most provoking small-screen shows to have ever aired on the television. It is gripping, (If you still haven’t watched the complete series, warning! Spoilers ahead!)
The definition of a Bad Leader: Anatoly Dyatlov, the type corporates should stay far away from. A man whose foul attitude is superseded only by his lack of etiquettes. He has complete disregard for safety, policies and rules. He has drowned so deep in his ego and arrogance, that he does not hear the hum of logic or understand the language of reason. He repels love, respect and affability, qualities a good leader should attract. An incompetent man, an incompetent leader but a competent example of what not to be.
Favouritism, bribery and office politics create Anatoly Dyatlov in the dozens. We have chosen leaders like Donald, turning a blind eye to skill, empathy and experience to be at the helm of the most powerful nation in the world, who has no regard for Global Warming whatsoever. What direction is he steering the world to?
The cost of lies: One state secret could have prevented Chernobyl. Though we might have missed out on a stunning TV series, hundreds of thousands of people would have been living a safe and healthy life. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth, a debt which we will have to eventually pay off. In 2017 Tesla’s Fermont facility witnessed worker injuries, which were twice the industry standards. Tesla had strenuously defended its safety record since workers went public with complaints and announced they were seeking to unionize with the United Auto Workers. What was the cost? A game of life and death.
Knowledge is power: Don’t let Cersei Lannister tell you otherwise. Valery Legasov moved governments and nations, displaced resources at his will and commanded an array of workmen ranging from pilots to miners. He had the power of knowledge, a power which transcends boundaries of age, gender, race, bias and most importantly supremacy. We live in a knowledge economy, making knowledge one of the modern company’s most important assets. Knowledge provides the confidence to make or break a decision, promotes innovation, improves the efficiency of an organization’s operating units and increases customer satisfaction. Pillars without which the sustainability of corporates might come into a tight spot, in the current ever-changing business conditions.
Stand up for what is right: Ulana Khomyuk, a plain woman with a strong moral conviction. The series depicts multiple instances where she stood up for what was right. She was insulted, threatened even jailed, but she never chose to stand down. It takes courage and mental strength to stand up when everybody in the room is suggesting otherwise. Legosav knew the consequences when he gave the final testimony to the jury. He knew he would be killed. He will not be the hero he deserved. Death is only the end of life but the beginning of a legacy.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself, everybody else is already taken”. Good leadership is evident when a person is authentic and stands behind their values, has a clear personal brand and behaves consistently. When this happens, it is far easier to connect with them and build a long-lasting relationship. This is because you know what you will get when you collaborate and engage with them. There are no surprises.
The power of human force: When the first helicopter crashed, my heart dropped dead. When those three divers were treading dangerous waters and the torch went off, my heart dropped dead. When Legosav hung himself after everything he did for the people and his country, my heart dropped dead. But what had to be done, was done, no matter the consequences. Such is the power of human emotions, much is the strength of determination. We live in a lean age of efficiency and optimization, where corporate leaders constantly talk about automation and reduction of human resources. In such times let’s not forget what human beings are capable of. Robots can replace humans, but not humanity.