The Four Most Important Questions A Leader Must Ask

Startup founder. Enterprise CEO. Author of one of my favorite books ever. And one of the most generous leaders I know. That just gets it started describing today’s guest, Vineet Nayar.

But what’s with the title of his book, “Employees First, Customers Second”? He’s joking, right?

Hardly. Not only is Employees First Customers Second (EFCS) the name of his book: much more importantly, it’s baked into the very fabric of HCLT, the company Vineet led until he retired early to dedicate his life to helping those less fortunate in his home nation of India.

Says Vineet about EFCS,

“We were on the crossroad as a company where we were losing mindshare, market share, and talent share. In 2005 we had an opportunity to transform the company. So the question we asked ourselves, can culture be a competitive differentiator, where it’s not what you do but how you do it?” That led him to four questions that every leader must ask, the short versions of which are:

  1. What is the core business we are in?
  2. Where does this get created?
  3. Who creates our differentiated value?
  4. What should the role of managers and management be?

Armed with these four questions, Vineet transformed his company from an also-ran with $700 million to a highly disruptive and envied market leader worth $4.7 Billion in just a few years. HCLT hasn’t looked back since.

Friends, whether you’re running an enterprise like Vineet or a lifestyle business with three employees, here in these four questions – and in this interview – are the secrets you need to turn your company culture into your competitive differentiator.

…And that is just from the first six minutes of this absolutely fascinating two-part interview. In part one, the talk is all business – how you, too, can turn Employees First, Customers Second into your model for breakout success. In part two, we discuss his nonprofit, the Sampark Foundation, and we even get a little into India’s relations with its neighbor China.

Final note: there are just a couple of rough patches in the videos, but not so bad as to ruin our chat. You’re going to love this episode!


Buy Vineet’s book in our Amazon store

Follow Vineet on Twitter

Visit Vineet’s website

Visit the Sampark Foundation 

Check out the other fascinating people I’ve interviewed HERE!


Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

Image credit: dskdesign / 123RF Stock Photo

Keynote speaker. Author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive. Three-time CEO. Chairman and Founder of Switch and Shift. Ted Coiné is one of the most influential business experts on the Web, top-ranked by Forbes, Inc., SAP Business Innovation, and Huffington Post for his leadership, customer experience, and social media influence. Ted consults with owners, CEOs and boards of directors on making their companies more competitive by making them more human-focused. He and his family live in Naples, Florida.

  • Jim Williams

    Great post. I would offer that in addition to HOW you do it (and WHAT you do) that starting with WHY you do it is perhasp most important; especially if you wish to attract employyees and clients that share your “why”.

  • footer-logo

    There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

  • Contact Us

    email: connect@switch&
    1802 North Carson Street
    Suite 206
    Carson City, NV 89701

    Terms & Conditions  |  Privacy Policy


    four − = 1