Why Narayana Murthy’s
return to Infosys isn’t so great
ho is the most respected first-generation busi-
ness leader in India?
after he uttered one lie to his Guru. Yudhishtir told his
Guru, the great Dhronacharya, “Ashwathama has been
killed, but the elephant.”
The last three words, ‘but the elephant,’ were deliber-
ately spoken very softly and the Guru didn’t hear them.
Thinking that Ashwathama, the Guru’s son was killed,
the Guru gave up fighting and in the process was killed
By returning to Infosys as executive chairman,
Narayana Murthy’s chariot has also been brought to the
ground level. Just like Yudhishtir lost the morale right
to be addressed as ‘Dharmraj’ Murthy has proved that
when it comes to negotiating life without all the trappings
of power, he is just like one of us. Lonely, restless and itch-
ing back to get back his former corner office!
Murthy’s return has made it all so confusing
When Murthy retired completely from Infosys in August
2011, he said that he had built a strong team to carry for-
ward the company.
Infosys then had one chairman (KV Kamath), co-chair-man (Kris Gopalakrishnan) and one managing
director/chief executive officer (SD Shibulal).
With Murthy’s return, Kamath has sort of stepped aside
(or has he?), Gopalakrishnan has become vice chairman
(demoted?) and Shibulal remains the toddler who needs
the support of Murthy and Kris to stabilize.
With one executive chairman and one executive vice
chairman what is the managing director supposed to do?
The strategy will be driven by whom? If by Murthy and
Kris, then why not redesignate Shibulal as COO?
Murthy and Kris keep saying that they want to strengthen the hands of Shibulal. What about his morale building?
Murthy’s return means that the he wasn’t a great Team
Murthy was the Number One man at Infosys from 1991
Thereafter also till 2011 his shadow loomed large as he
became non-executive chairman and chief mentor. He
stepped out only in August 2011, leaving the door ajar!
This means he wasn’t able to groom a single leader in two
decades who could run the company without his supervi-
VIVEK PRAKASH/REU TERS
When Narayan Murthy retired from Infosys in August 2011, he said that he had built a strong team to carry forward the company. But his return has
Why is Murthy always emphasizing that he will draw a
salary of Re 1
We all know that Murthy is a supremely humble man. We
have all heard that he doesn’t mind taking a taxi from airport to home and how little priority he attaches to personal wealth.
I genuinely believe that he indeed is a marvelous man and
is a shinning example of virtuosity and simplicity. But I
don’t like all this talk about his taking just Re 1 salary.
Is Murthy sending a message that his normal salary
(whatever it may be) would be too much for Infosys to pay?
Is Murthy sending a signal to other top team leaders of
Infosys to reduce their packages considerably so that the
bottom line gets better?
Is Murthy indirectly suggesting that he is the only one
who can make sacrifices and the rest of the top guys are just
Is Muthy suggesting that not taking salary is a great
virtue? Isn’t it good for one’s dignity of labor to remunerate
himself for his time and efforts?
Why is Murthy bringing his son as executive assistant
By returning to Infosys, Murthy has indicated that there
isn’t anyone other than him who can lead a company with
hundreds of talented leaders.
By bringing his son along he has unwittingly declared
that there is no one in Infosys current team of youngsters
who can be his executive assistant.
Murthy’s return to Infosys hasn’t been criticized much in
the media and the corporate circles. This means that
Murthy’s reputation as a man of integrity and selflessness
remains in tact.
Sudhir Bisht is the CEO of Clairvoyant Consultants.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.