Industry Interactive Session with Lt. Gen. J.S. Cheema (VSM, Indian Army)

On 23rd of July,2016, students of Indian Institute of Management
Amritsar got an exclusive opportunity to interact with one of the
better known veterans of Indian army , Lt. Gen. Jagbir Singh Cheema,

Lt. Gen Jagbir Singh Cheema, a person with a strict demeanor, is
compassionate at heart. Using his 36 years of valuable experience in
Defense services, he engaged students with various insights on
leadership. He opened the conversation with the Battle of Saragarhi,
one of the most famous last-stand battles since medieval times.
Through it he highlighted how important it was for a person who
aspired to be a leader, to be brave and selfless. “Self Interest is
the last priority of any army personnel” he said,” and the same should
be the case with any leader”.

He was averse to the idea that people were born leaders and insisted
that leadership was a quality that can be inculcated. He said
“Leadership is a virtue that is nurtured, practiced & refined over a
period of time”.

He very subtly confined the definition of leadership to three important facets

Knowledge :
He said that it was imperative for a leader to be well versed in the
roles and functions of all his/her team members. He advocated the case
study pedagogy at IIM Amritsar which exposed students to various real
life situations, thereby imparting pertinent knowledge. Citing an
example from his past army experience, he said that every army
personnel were subjected to grass root level tasks in the beginning so
that he/she would have feel & knowledge of how things work. He
emphasized on the importance of one’s intuition and said that it could
only be developed with sound knowledge and experience.

People Skills :
Second skill that Lt. Gen. Jagbir Singh Cheema emphasized on, was the
ability to deal with people. He said that compassion was one of the
keys to win over people, and it was essential skill that a leader must
possess. He said that in situation where one must wield a stick,
he/she should do it without hurting the self-respect of person on the
other side.

Lt. Gen said that a successful leader should be selfless by character
and should be a person of high integrity. Along with selflessness,
leaders should also have the moral courage to act wisely and should be
willing to own responsibilities.

Further to this Lt. Gen articulated how leadership was different from
management. He said that a leader, in addition to being a good manager
should also be a visionary and motivator. He added that “Management is
Science, but Leadership is an art”.

The interaction culminated with a Q&A session where LT. Gen patiently
replied to the questions covering topics like strengthening intuition,
improving people skills, importance of diplomacy etc. This candid
interaction with Lt. Gen Jagbir Singh Cheema left students enlightened
with various aspects of leadership and their practical resonance in
one’s life.

Abdulqadir Dula


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