Aravind: Can you see this?

In his podcast, Akimbo [], Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

In this podcast, Seth used Aravind Eye Hospital and Dr. G. Venkataswamy’s work as an example to discuss the effects of leadership and management. With the right leadership leading to the right management, one person can plant a seed that changes the world.

The “Aravind Way” encompasses seven driving principles that guide Aravind’s daily operations.

  • Making eye care accessible to all
  • Quality and continuous improvement
  • Patient centricity
  • Self-reliance
  • Staff centricity
  • Frugality
  • Sharing

Management and leadership are not the same things, and we need both. Management is helping people do what they did yesterday, but faster and cheaper. Leadership is what happens in between the moments that we are managing. Management is staying the course, while leadership is leaping by doing something that might not work.

Leadership and management both are situations where we make a choice. Aravind Eye Hospitals make those choices every day by leveraging those operating principles. Those principles also guide the Aravind institution by defining the metrics that they should be measuring.

When we work in an organization, we measure something. Practicing management helps us make decisions all day long. However, the business environment does not stand still. After a while, management hits a speed bump because we encounter a situation where we need to make a new decision for a new environment or a new direction. These moments of change are where the leaps of leadership come into play.

Some would advocate that the highest purpose of an organization is to make money for the short-term interest of the shareholders. Money is easy to measure, but often, it is not the point. The point should be the change that we can make and that we are proud of. Lots of organizations are creating systems that cannot sustain for the long haul by overly focusing on measuring money.

Management can change the world, and we also need leadership to decide what we are going to measure. We make hard decisions every day, and we should be clear of which direction should we make those decisions.

The opportunity that each one of us has now is that we get to manage ourselves. We get to pay attention not only to what the boss is measuring but to what we are measuring. We need to exercise leadership work by putting the right metrics on the table to decide what we think is important. Many things we do these days are choices, and, fortunately, they are choices that each of us gets to make.