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At Pragati Leadership, we aim to create high-performing organizations, aligned cultures, and effective workplaces through wholesome leadership. Since 1988, we have conducted a variety of learning and development programs to help current and aspiring corporate leaders shape their philosophy around Purpose, People, Planet, and Profit. The “Pragati Leadership Inspiring & Successful Leadership Awards 2022” are our latest endeavor towards establishing benchmarks for leadership excellence.   

In identifying today’s exemplary leaders in a truly unbiased manner, we sought the help of several renowned industry experts. Members of this expert panel include Anu Wakhlu (Chairperson and Executive Director, Pragati Leadership), Satish Kumar Anavangot (Former MD, Henkel India Limited), Biji K. Kurien (Former MD – CPS Color India, Berger Paints, and Author),  S. Deenadayalan (Founder, Center for Excellence in Organization), Dr. Sayalee Gankar (Vice Chancellor, D. Y. Patil University), and Raman Chadha (ex Head Oil & Gas, Gammon Engineers). 

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Becoming – and being reappointed – the only non-European global chair of the Family Business Network of the World Investment Forum establishes Mr. Farhad Forbes (Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall) as an exceptional leader. He is one of the award winners this year, chosen by the jury for taking the company’s vision of Energising Businesses and Communities Worldwide onto the global stage. While Forbes Marshall aims to become a leader in energy and process automation solutions worldwide by offering innovative solutions and exceeding customer expectations, it also truly embodies diversity and helps uplift local communities wherever it operates. 

Under Mr. Forbes’s truly transformational guidance, the company has embarked upon many befitting philanthropic projects through the Forbes Foundation and aligned its processes to meet sustainability requirements. He has also been instrumental in creating scholarship programs, and healthcare and women empowerment initiatives. Expressing his gratitude for the award, Mr. Forbes shared his belief that leadership can be learned through either education or observation. He cited Pragati Leadership as an example of the coaching that can impart the skills needed by leaders, noting that observing other good leaders is the other approach. Mr. Forbes felt that he had picked up lessons through both modes, with his father (Mr. Darius Forbes) being the leader he and his brother (Mr. Naushar Forbes) observed.

Elaborating on these leadership lessons, Mr. Forbes emphasized learning to listen as the first lesson. He said leaders tend to believe they need to provide answers, which more often than not come from the people they lead. Leaders, he felt, need to hear these people out, not just because their answers are likely to be right, but also because they are going to implement the answers, likely more easily. The second lesson, in Mr. Forbes’s view, is taking the time to reflect after listening, before forming opinions and debating the alternatives with the people who provide them. 

He added that this consideration of those alternatives sets the premise for the third lesson – taking the time to reflect on and change one’s opinions if necessary but without compromising one’s values and principles. Leaders, mused Mr. Forbes, should be open to changing their opinions while being true to their principles. His fourth and fifth lessons for aspiring leaders involved dealing with feedback – providing feedback as honestly and sincerely as possible, and receiving feedback with their eyes and ears open, respectively.  He recalled learning to listen rather than reacting as part of his education, and underscored that leaders should not react to the feedback they receive, but listen to and digest it. 

His sixth leadership lesson was being assertive and empathetic simultaneously, not one or the other. Next, he observed that leaders need to have the humility to recognize that they are not perfect and make mistakes. that we make mistakes, and we should have the humility to accept them when necessary. Mr. Forbes’s ended by encouraging leaders to lead by example rather than by direction and to practice what they preach. 

Mr. Forbes has been at Forbes Marshall since 1982, before which he was working with Hewlett-Packard Company. He is also the current Chairman and Board member of the Family Business Network – International (FBN-I), an association of 3500 family businesses from 65 countries with 17,000 individual members. He is also currently Chairman of the CII National Committee on Affirmative Action. Mr. Forbes is a past member of the Advisory Council of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.