How Cyrus Mistry fought a lonely battle
- Cyrus Mistry was aware of the legacy he had to shoulder and did his best to further it in an unassuming way.
Cyrus Mistry was the chairman of India’s largest and globally best-known conglomerate. He came into the limelight, which he had instinctively shunned until he took on this mantle. Even as chairman of Tata Sons, he did not give any interviews to the press, preferring to let his work and business to speak for itself. His style was down to earth and affable, not stress-inducing for either his subordinates or peers. One incident might illustrate his quiet, unassuming-yet-effective style of working, which this author witnessed first-hand. Mistry was appointed as co-chair of the Indo-US CEO Forum by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had to play host to a high-profile visit by US President Barack Obama to India. The conference agenda had to be finalized, a joint statement had to carefully crafted down to the last comma, and a meaningful action plan had to be formed. All this in coordination with government folks at the highest level, as well as working with some of the biggest chieftains of Indian industry. As co-chair, Mistry got everyone on board, and the CEO conference, attended by both the Prime Minister and President, was a grand success. What many might not have known was that behind the scene, he worked tirelessly with the team for weeks prior to the meet. Even to the extent of going over every micro detail, well into the night before the conference, to ensure that everything worked flawlessly. His attention to detail did not mean that he was a micro manager. He was not charismatic in any sense, nor did he display any flamboyance. But his energy was infectious and inspired his team as well. If this incident is any indication, the Tata Group lost a very promising business leader when it sacked him in 2016.