Dhirubhai Ambani (1932-2002).was an exceptional human being and an outstanding leader.

A man far ahead of his times, he epitomised the dauntless entrepreneurial spirit. He dared to dream on a scale unimaginable before in Indian industry. His life and achievements prove that backed by confidence, courage and conviction, man can achieve the impossible. From a humble beginning, he went on to create an enviable business empire within a span of just © www.hrfolks.com 17 25 years. The Rs.60,000 crore Reliance Group is a living testimony to his indomitable will, single-minded dedication and an unrelenting commitment to his goals. Under Shri Dhirubhai Ambani's visionary leadership, the Reliance Group emerged as the largest business conglomerate in India, and carved out a distinct place for itself in the global pantheon of corporate giants. The Group's track record of consistent growth is unparalleled in Indian industry and perhaps internationally too. Today, the Group's turnover represents nearly 3 percent of India's GDP. Shri Dhirubhai Ambani was not just firmly rooted in traditional Indian values, but was also the quintessentially modern man, the man of the new millennium. This was clearly reflected in his passion for mega-sized projects, the most advanced technology and the highest level of productivity. The corporate philosophy he followed was short, simple and succinct - "Think big. Think differently. Think fast. Think ahead. Aim for the best".He inspired the Reliance team to do better than the best - not only in India but in the world. Prestigious awards and titles were conferred on him by national and international organisations. He was acclaimed as the top businessman of the twentieth century and lauded for his dynamic, pioneering and innovative genius. His success story fired the imagination of the younger generation of Indian entrepreneurs, business leaders and progressive companies. He was an icon for them, a role model to be emulated. The number of revolutionary precedents set by Shri Dhirubhai Ambani are legion. His unique vision redefined the potential of the Indian corporate sector as he challenged conventional wisdom in several areas. He was probably the first Indian businessman to recognise the strategic significance of investors and discover the vast untapped potential of the capital markets and channelise it for the growth and development.
In 1948, J.R.D. went on to start Air-India International. Within ten years he was president of Inter-national Air Transport Association (IATA). Though the airline was nationalized in 1953, he remained at the helm of Air India till 1978, making it one of the most efficient airlines in the world. In 1938, at the age of thirty-four, he became the chairman of the largest industrial group in India, which he led with distinction for fifty-two years. When I asked him why he was appointed at such a young age as chairman of Tata Sons, when senior, more distinguished men like Sir Homi Mody and Sir Ardeshir Dalal were on the board, he shrugged it off and said, 'It was an aberration.' When pressed for a reply, he said, 'Perhaps, because I was hard working.' With his limitation of formal education, how did he discharge his res-ponsibilities? 'Because of a lack of technical know-ledge, my main contribution in management was to encourage others.'

He elaborated on how he dealt with each man in his own way and brought out the best in people. 'At times, it involved suppressing yourself. It is painful but necessary... To lead men, you have to lead them with affection.' With more than sixty years of experience in top management, he developed his own philosophy and method where leadership was concerned. 'One of the qualities of leadership is to assess what is needed to get the best results for an enterprise. If that demands being a very active executive chairman, as I was in Air-India, I did that. On the other hand, in one of our other companies where I know that the managing director likes to be alone and will get the results that way, I argue with myself and decide that it will be stupid for me to come in the way when the other person has a capacity for focusing his genius and producing the results. Often a chairman's main responsibility is to inspire respect.' And then he added, 'Don't forget, I like people.' Every interview with him was an exhilarating experience, Each time I learnt something. I once mentioned to him, 'Of course, Sir, you believe in excellence.' He retorted sharply, 'Not excellence. Perfection. You aim for perfection, you will attain excellence. If you aim for excellence, you will go lower.'