By Geneive D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial |November 03, 2023

Major General Neeraj Bali: The Winning Culture!

Major General Neeraj Bali’s upcoming book, The Winning Culture: Lessons from The Indian Army to Transform Your Business, is influenced and inspired by his experiences in the Indian Army and how the values and work cultures developed in this institution could be implemented in the ‘organizational cultures’ that are present in the business world. The book, published by Pan Macmillan which will be released on November 23, also addresses why the collective behavior of the team often distinctively differs from that of other teams. 

Major General Neeraj Bali (Sena Medal) a veteran of the Indian Army, is currently a corporate professional. He assists several companies in refining the aspects of their work culture as an organizational culture transformation consultant. In addition, he is a trained and certified professional speaker and a life and leadership coach. 

After his retirement from the Army, he has been the CEO of an engineering PMC company with over a hundred infrastructure projects. During his term of office in this organization, the company was able to double its revenue. He was also the CEO of a rural education society, which ran 92 academic institutions in Maharashtra. 

Major General Neeraj Bali
Major General Neeraj Bali: The book is available on Amazon.

In his stint outside the Army, he delivered talks about ‘organizational cultures’ leadership and competitive intelligence across different platforms. Some of the many forums include Microsoft India, Infosys, and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Opening Doorz met with the Author who is hoping that this book redefines the way organizations look at their work culture. Major General Neeraj Bali makes it very clear at the outset that he does not have any intention to make business culture or organizational culture an exact replica of the Army; rather, he aims to underline and highlight some universal and fundamental attributes and values that could aid in businesses growing and consequently, achieving their profit-oriented goals. 

The Birth of The Winning Culture

Speaking about how the idea for this book came about, Major General Neeraj Bali says: “After superannuation from the Army, I joined the corporate sector. When I was CEO of an engineering company that supervised the construction of mega infrastructure projects, I realized that many nuances of leadership, team-building, and motivation were understood at even the lowest levels of the Army. However, the business world struggled with those attributes. The difference was that the Army had created a robust and powerful culture, something that every organization should do.

“The trigger was when I delivered a talk at IIM, Ahmedabad, and a student asked me how Army men, who don’t even get a bonus at the end of the year, work so differently than civilians, even though we all come from the same demographic and other backgrounds. I instinctively knew that the difference was culture. I decided to pass on the core lessons through this book which took me four years to write.”

He further states, “I have drawn inspiration from the Indian Army, an organization whose primary strength is its robust and thoughtfully developed culture. I have also leveraged my corporate experience since superannuation to find a bridge between the learnings of the Army and the business world.”

Major General Neeraj Bali
Through interviews and research, Major General Neeraj Bali has recounted several case studies of extraordinary acts by ‘ordinary’ rank-and-file teams.

From the Army to the Boardroom…

Drawing a parallel from life in the Army to the Boardroom, Major General Neeraj Bali says: “The dynamics of the two is very different. Similarities lie only in the pursuit of goals. Otherwise, unlike the business world, the Army does not pursue profit motive, is willing to make any sacrifice to achieve its objectives, and enjoys the stability of the workforce. The book’s argument is NOT that anyone should replicate the Army’s culture. That would be a nonsensical idea. But the theme is that everyone should be aware of the criticality of culture as a force and take away some lessons universally applicable to the Army and any other organization.” 

The book does not focus on or discuss any rudimentary theories per se, he reveals. Through interviews and research, he has recounted several case studies of extraordinary acts by ‘ordinary’ rank-and-file teams. It is thus a book about what each of us does because that defines the culture, not the actions of a few gladiators, he feels.

Business in India and integrity…

When asked to comment on the Businesses in India, and which Businesses, according to him, have integrity, he is quick off the blocks. “Tatas are a prime example, but there are many more, like Kirloskar Brothers, Wipro, and Infosys. I have interacted with smaller companies too, like Neologic Engineers Pvt Ltd, Pune, that pursue their business goals with complete integrity. Most MNCs that are controlled from the US strictly follow laws relating to financial probity as they are answerable back in their parent country as well.” 

The strength of ‘culture’ is a vital element in the success of a particular business, according to him. No strategy or planning will get optimal results if the culture is not aligned with it. That is also the core message of his book. 

Major General Neeraj Bali
“Fighting the insurgency in Kashmir for many years provided Neeraj Bali a tough masterclass in how force, intelligence, and human engagement all need to be made to work together to win. In this book, he shows us how we can adapt those lessons for success in our businesses and workplaces.”  —Shekhar Gupta, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of The Print.

Reactions from Business Leaders…

According to Major General Neeraj Bali, the book has already started receiving favorable responses and reviews. 

“The Winning Culture encapsulates the lived experience and life lessons of a serving officer in the line of fire—real fire. I wish I had his life and I wish I had written this book. Deep wisdom, presented through outstanding narrative. A great book on leadership and institution-building in a wrapper called Culture.”

 —Subroto Bagchi
Author, entrepreneur, and co-founder of Mindtree

“Insightful learnings from the Indian Army on how to build a successful driving corporate culture. These takeaways are extremely relevant in the current VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) environment which is fraught with uncertainties and risks for corporates and their traditional cultural paradigms. An excellent read!”

 —Rajeev Bakshi
Former Chairman of Pepsico India, Cadbury India
Managing Director of Metro Cash & Carry

 “This book provides a roadmap, making it an essential read for leaders and visionaries aiming to craft an enduring legacy.”

 —Radhika Ghai
Co-founder of ShopClues, serial entrepreneur 
and India’s first female unicorn founder

“Fighting the insurgency in Kashmir for many years provided Neeraj Bali a tough masterclass in how force, intelligence, and human engagement all need to be made to work together to win. In this book, he shows us how we can adapt those lessons for success in our businesses and workplaces.”

 —Shekhar Gupta
Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of The Print

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