Leader and Co-Leader: "Saas Vs. Bahu"


Dr. K.S. Srinivasa Rao
M.Sc. (Statistics), M.Phil., Ph.D.
Institute for Technology and Management (ITM)
E-mail: srinirao35@yahoo.com

Undertaking: I hereby declare that the research article titled "Leader and Co-Leader: "Saas Vs. Bahu" is of my own and is not submitted to any journal for publication.

Note: The information given in the article is based on the information available in the public domain.  The objective of this article is for a better management rather than criticizing or commenting any individuals.  The opinion drawn in the article was purely of personal and does not reflect on any individuals or the organizations.


The impact of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG) made Indian B-Schools to imitate the foreign educational system by implementing new administrative structure in the organization to some extent.   The administration in the Universities was mainly controlled by the Vice Chancellor, Registrar and the Head of the Departments.  In post reforms, some of the universities followed the concept of a Dean but with a lot of confusion.  Slowly, Private Institutions which are autonomous in nature of operations have implemented the second level of administration using the Dean position.  In this article, the author explains the administrative changes taken place in Indian Educational System with a focus to higher education.  


In India, Management education has taken an exponential growth in the last three decades.   The impact of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG) added fuel to the fire in creating more awareness about the job requirements in the corporate sector.  The main attraction for an aspirant MBA graduate to select a B-School for higher education is the huge offer of pay package from corporate sector.   This made even the Engineering graduates to think about MBA Program by denying the offer they will be getting from the campus recruitment after Engineering, as corporate is giving preference to MBA graduates with Engineering background.  This created in the B-School environment a new behavioral issue "Meine Baddu Avadeche" (in Gujarathi it means that I Know Every Thing) as expansion for MBA.  This attitude led the MBA graduates to behave differently and made them to perform well in the organizations wherever they got placed.  Later, B-Schools en-cashed this aspect to promote their ranks in B-School surveys.  At one stage, organizations have noticed that the "MBA" attitude is working adversely and started focusing on B-Schools of Tier-II and Tier-III for campus recruitment, where they found the attitude at a lower level.  So many private institutions have started their PGDM / PGDBA Programs equivalent to MBA with or without any approvals from the AICTE, the Regulatory Body. As demand is increasing every year for MBA Program, B-Schools are increasing their Program fee every year and also their intake capacity.  Some Institutions are providing the facilities and resources but some may not be doing justice to the fee that they collect from the students.

Faculty – the Backbone:

For any Academic Institute, the key factor is the faculty and even for a B-School, this rule is applicable.  The basic difference between other programs of higher education and MBA Program is that each faculty member should be an expert in the domain knowledge in functional area but in B-Schools the faculty member in addition to the domain knowledge in the functional area, he/she should be an all-rounder in order to train the students to meet the requirements of the corporate.   B-Schools are focusing more on practical exposure to their students in terms of the Course-related Projects, Industry Internship (both summer and winter), Guest Lectures by Executives and Case Study Analysis through Industry Institute Interface.  In addition to this, the Regulatory Body insists on better qualifications like M.Phil./ Ph.D. and teaching as well as industry experience for the faculty.   It is expected that the B-School faculty should have experience on various aspects like Teaching, Research, Academic Administration, Training and Consultancy.   On one hand getting a qualified faculty becoming a problem, whereas on the other hand retaining such talented and experienced people becomes another major problem to the Management of the B-Schools. Institutes are offering huge salaries for such faculty but still turnover is very high in B-Schools.  Attrition rate in B-Schools is very high and takes next to IT sector.  The Management of the B-Schools are using strategies to retain the faculty by giving different attractive designations like Director – Academics, Administration, Examination, Student Affairs, Alumni Affairs, Placements,  Media and Publicity, International Affairs on side.  On the other hand, the new designations like Dean, Associate Dean and Assistant Dean with different responsibilities similar to that of the Director mentioned earlier.

Principles of Management:

John P. Kotter, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Harvard Business School has suggested that Leadership and Management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action.  Each has its own function and characteristic activities.  Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment—strong leadership with weak management is no better, and is sometimes actually worse, than the reverse.  The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.

The following table gives the difference between the roles of a Leader and the Manager suggested by Prof. Kotter:











Position power

Persuasion power



Problem solving

Possibility thinking



Doing things right

Doing the right things





Light a fire under people

Stoke the fire within people

Written communications

Verbal communications



Key Roles of Administration - Dean and Director:

Organizational structure is very important for the smooth running of the administration in any organization. In majority of the universities, administrative control was with the Vice Chancellor, Registrar and the Head of the Departments till last two decades.   In post reforms, some of the universities followed the concept of Dean by imitating some of the foreign universities.  Dean in any university system should give administrative support on academic matters to the Vice Chancellor.  This new role of administration has reduced the overload of Vice Chancellor on some operational level of the academic matters to some extent.  Due to this relief, the Vice Chancellor can able to concentrate on the strategic issues to develop the organization.  The impact of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG) made Indian B-Schools to imitate the foreign educational system by implementing this new administrative structure in the organization to some extent.  Director is the Administrative Controller for any Institute, but to give some relief at operational level of academic matters, some B-Schools introduced the new administrative hierarchy – the Dean but with a lot of confusion.   In some organizations, where less experienced person working as Director and a senior person working as Dean or vice-versa, due to the lack of role clarity or due to personal egos, these levels of administrative roles lead to confusion instead of giving a better administration.  Interestingly, the Regulatory Body of Higher Education has not recognized the administrative level of Dean expect Director or Principal of an Institute. 

Leader Vs. Co-Leader: "Saas Vs. Bahu"

In the opinion of the public, majority of the B-Schools teach Management Principles, but very few of the B-Schools put them into practice.   As we are aware that there is a difference between a Manager and Leader, in any B-School as it grows, the Head of the Organization should play a different role, even though he/she has worked at operational level initially and developed the Institute.   As the Institute grows, the Head of the Organization has to take support from the next level and develop the second level managers who should take care of the operational level of administration and makes the Head of the Organization to work on strategic issues like making tie-ups with other institutes, planning for other programs like Ph.D., E-PGP, etc. or developing the Centres of Excellence in specific areas.  We have several examples where this kind of transition taken place with some level of respect even for entrepreneurs who started as a family business but later not involving at operational levels.  

Here, we can consider the situation of the Saas Vs. Bahu – the role of Mother-In-Law and Daughter-In-Law in Indian family culture. Till marriage, the son in a family follows the suggestions of the mother, and after marriage, he will try to give preference to his wife and this leads to some difficult situations in a family as Mother-In-Law (Saas) expects that things should happen as per her wish whereas, Daughter-In-Law (Bahu) tries to bring a new culture which leads to conflict in majority of the cases.  In fact, the system should be like the "Saas" should play an Advisory to "Bahu" rather the Supervisory role.  In Hindu mythology also, we have the role clarity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar – the creational and the operational levels.  We have a very good example in corporate level – Mr. Narayana Murthy of Infosis– turned as Chief Mentor and given a chance to Mr. Nandan to head the organization earlier.  In some of the B-Schools, even though they say that they don't have any hierarchy, but indirectly they use their own methods to control the system. 

The TIP of the Iceberg:

Even though every organization says that their systems are well defined, but several orginsations lack of understanding about the role clarity between Leader and Co-Leader.  The tip of the iceberg indicates about the detailed issues of the organization, in case the Leader and Co-Leader are not in line.  In some of the political states, we have seen the behavior of the leaders from the beginning of the formation of the government.  After some time, the political party has to think of two different portfolios like Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister or Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister in order to run the government somehow or other and to lure both the leaders who have conflicting views.   We have seen a reputed Management Institute in Gujarat well known for its focus on a specific sector, but later came into news for a prolonged dispute between the Chairman and the Director.  The Director of a reputed Medical Institute in Delhi had a tough fight with the Minster of Health which came in media and gave a different opinion to the public about both the parties.  Recently, a well-known university in Karnataka came into news where the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar communicated through media all their internal issues and at last, the Chancellor has involved and resolved the matters to some extent.  The internal issues and disputes if comes to the public notice through media, it creates a negative impression about the B-Schools and which may affect the Ranking position of the B-Schools.


In the information age, every organization is trying to go for good governance by using some standards and making transparency in their activities. Institutions are going for quality certifications in order to get confidence from their customers.  One side, competition is increasing and becoming a cut-throat, on the other hand, one has to maintain standards in order to sustain the business.  Awareness has increased among the candidates about B-Schools with a wide range of media – both print and electronic.  Candidates coming for admissions to B-Schools are trying to find about the status of the B-School by using social web portals.  Similarly, the candidates are posting their admission interview experiences along with their opinion about the B-Schools without any hesitation now-a-days.  It is advisable to implement the Principles of Management with good code of conduct in B-Schools.  The internal matters of any organization are to be resolved smoothly within the organization rather than bringing them into public notice. The Leader and Co-Leader should work together so that Leader can concentrate on strategic issues and Co-Leader should support the leader at Operational level. The Regulatory Body should focus on salary structure along with levels of designations in B-Schools and make them common across all B-Schools. 

Remark:  If any Institute is really doing well beyond the expectation, then the credit will go to their management and employees of the organization

Acknowledgements:  The author expresses his sincere gratitude to the management and staff of Indianmba.com website for creating a platform to communicate between the three stake holders – Students, Faculty and the Management of the Academic Institutions.  Also, the author got an opportunity to initiate the Faculty Column in www.indianmba.com on and contributed Articles Nos.01, 100, 1000.


(i) Hab Jaroslaw Warylewski, "The Leadership Role of the Dean Internally", University of Gadnask, Poland


(iii) K.S.Srinivasa Rao (2008) "Management Practices in Management Institutes",

(iv) K.S.Srinivasa Rao (2008) "Indian Management Education: Issues and Challenges", the MBA Review, Magazine of ICFAI Press, SPECIAL ISSUE: Apr. 2008,

(v) K.S. Srinivasa Rao (2008) "Managing sustainability in a world of declining natural resources will be a critical task for organisations and managers", 
Management Challenges for 2008,

(vi) K.S. Srinivasa Rao and Prof. Chowdari Prasad (2005) "Indian B-Schools in the Global Context", GITAM Journal of Management, Jan-July, pp.217-227

(vii) K.S. Srinivasa Rao (2004) "Turn the Search Light Inwards"

(viii) K.S. Srinivasa Rao (2003) "Is there a place for Indian B-schools in the Global Village? A Review" published in Electronic Proceedings of the First AIMS International Conference on Management Scholars in a Global Village: Challenges and Opportunities edited by Dr.Omprakash K. Gupta,  pp.33-42

(ix) K.S. Srinivasa Rao (2003) "A Case Study on CHANGE OF LEADERSHIP – IS IT FOR GOOD OR FOR BAD?",  GITAM Journal of Management, Vol.1, NO.2, pp. 136-138

(x) K.S. Srinivasa Rao (2002) "ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOUR: Technology Vs Management"

(xi) K.S. Srinivasa Rao (2002) "Student – B-School – Recruiting Company: A Bermuda Triangle" published in Competing in the New Global Age, Proceeding of the International Conference of Global Business Development Institute (GBDI) edited by Prof.P.Rama Ramalingam & Prof.Kazem Darbandi, Publication of GBDI, Technology & Operations Department, College of Business Administration, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA 91768, USA, pp.96-106

(xii) Manish Chandra Joshi, "Impact of Globalization on Management education in India",

(xiii) Thirthajyothi Sarkar (2007), "Higher Educational Reforms for Enhancing Your Employment Opportunity in India" CIPE International Essay Comeitition, Washington DC

Dr. K.S. Srinivasa Rao
M.Sc. (Statistics), M.Phil., Ph.D.
Institute for Technology and Management (ITM)
E-mail: srinirao35@yahoo.com

Source: E-mail May 14, 2010


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