A Promoter's Original Sins Entrepreneurs and promoters, such as Naresh Goyal, possess certain traits, which lead to their being feted

By Dr. Tulsi Jayakumar

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The doctrine of Original Sin can be found in the fourth book of Esdras, which refers to Adam as being responsible for the fall of man, whose offspring inherited disease and evil.

Entrepreneurs and promoters, such as Naresh Goyal, possess certain traits, which lead to their being feted. The very same traits, however, are responsible in no small measure to their personal downfall. We describe seven of these deadly sins, which come masked in the form of virtues.

1. Putting work above all:

Workaholic tendencies, as have been attributed to Naresh Goyal, with little consideration for work-life balance in one's own life, as well as those of employees, can prove to be detrimental to business growth. Empathy for the people working within an organization and understanding the driving factors would be a key factor as the business matures.
2. Tight Control:

Lack of delegation and control are serious failings in most promoters. Goyal and his wife are alleged to have had a say in everything - "from selection of cutlery to planes". The business being seen as a mom-and pop kind of operation will lead to demotivated staff.

3. High confidence levels:

An important personality trait of entrepreneurs/ promoters is that of high levels of confidence, and seeing opportunities where others are unable to see them. Naresh Goyal continued to think he would be able to swing the deal in his favour, rejecting the offers and refusing to cede control in January. Business owners need to listen to ther stakeholders' voices.

4. Dream Big:

As founders lose humility, their actions can lead to businesses collapsing. It was Goyal's decision to reconfigure a small fleet of wide-bodied Airbus and Boeing planes by building in only 308 seats, as against the normal of 400 seats. It made no commercial sense.
5Going it Alone: Naresh Goyal is quoted to have said, "When people look at Jet Airways, they look at me." When founders decide to play it alone, with scant respect for the opinions of professionals hired for specific purposes, it spells disaster.

6. Keen sense of timing:

Entrepreneurs are equally well known for their keen sense of timing and sharp execution abilities. However, such sense and sensibilities may become dull. Thus, even as Jet's share prices hovered between Rs 182 and Rs 347 per share, and Delta offered Rs 300 per share, Goyal wanted in excess of Rs 400.

7. Inability to give up:

In the case of Goyal, his son, Nivaan, was neither seen, nor projected as his successor. Giving up the reins of the business to the next-gen at the right time, and mentoring the latter, so that they can carry the legacy is extremely important for the sustainability of businesses.
The story of Jet Airways is that of the human failings of the promoters. Who better to testify to Goyal's original sins than the 20,000 employees of Jet or the millions of commuters, who have suddenly to navigate a "Jet-less' world?

Dr. Tulsi Jayakumar

Professor of Economics & Chairperson, Family Managed Business at SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai

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