Monday, January 2, 2023

Narayana Murthy and Narendra Modi: Two unlikely examples of extremes in work-life balance in modern India?

 Towards the end of 2022 came two stories demonstrating distinct tradeoffs of work-life balance in modern India that make one reflect. Here is my video on the topic

The 76-year-old godfather of Indian outsourcing, Narayana Murthy, spoke about the time he devoted to building Infosys and how it came at the cost of spending quality time with his two children. In interviews, was quoted saying he was so dedicated to building the software services company that for years he would reach his office every morning at 6.20 am and work till 8 or 9 pm into the night. Mr Murthy was reflecting on the growth of the company and how it came at the cost of spending quality time with his two children.

Another story is that of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose mother passed away at 99 a few days ago. Immediately after attending to her funeral rites, Mr. Modi resumed his official duties.  A few hours after his mother’s cremation in Gandhinagar, PM Narendra Modi virtually flagged off a host of infrastructure projects, designed to galvanize West Bengal and Kolkata.

In my years in the corporate world, I have worked with scores of middle-managers and executives who have dedicated their lives to being “corporate men,” foregoing their personal commitments. Like Mr Narayana Murthy regrets in his sunset years, spending quality time with his children. They are driven to the extreme and don’t mind hopping on a plane at a day’s notice for the next bid or client project. They are willing to get on calls at 6AM or 9PM and just don’t let their personal life come in the way of their work commitments and more.

The fact is that leaders like Mr. Modi, Naranaya Murthy and the workaholic colleague are outliers.

Most of us are not. We rightfully strive to balance our work-life priorities. Quoting eastern philosophy, most of us strive to balance the Yin-Yang of life without getting into extremes.

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