Manoj Sinha: Building a culture on trust, collaboration and learning


In this exclusive interview, Manoj Sinha, Chief Executive Officer of Husk Power Systems shares his insights into leadership and team success, and what is needed from a leader during times of uncertainty. Sinha shares his personal story of how taking risks has made him a better leader.

This interview was originally published in The Global Power & Energy Elites 2022


I’ve been reading ‘The Culture Code‘ by Daniel Coyle, which is about the secrets of highly successful groups.

Group dynamics are complex and they become even more so in a growth company that is operating in multiple countries across two continents – during a pandemic!

It is my job as CEO to establish a culture built on trust, collaboration, and constant learning. That is what is needed to foster a team spirit that is resilient, innovative, and exceeds expectations. To support this culture, I am constantly trying to figure out what I need to do as the leader to create the motivation and purpose for everyone to want to work towards the company’s ‘North Star’ goal; while reinforcing the belief that this is also their own ‘North Star’ goal.


Empathy is a key attribute of leadership. It is essential. A successful leader should also embody grit and resilience in their journey. It is never a straight line and you are bound to have setbacks but it is how you respond to getting back on your feet and solving the problem in order to move forward. The ability to make decisions is important as well, especially when you do not have sufficient information and data, which is almost all the time. If we had all the data, we would always make the right decision, right?

Lastly, you need to have the ability to set clearly the vision and the purpose of what you are trying to build, and to communicate that clearly and succinctly to everyone in the organisation, irrespective of their education and experience.

Finally, it is having the ability to build a team who can work with you and who are smarter than you as the leader in at least one or two dimensions, if not more. That sounds trivial but it has been an experience in itself to do that.


One of the toughest and most stressful decisions of my life was in 2013 when the then CEO of Husk walked away literally overnight. Up to then, I was on Husk’s board but not active in the management. I was in New York, recently married, and working as a mid-level manager in a great company when I had to decide if I would uproot and return to India to try to save Husk Power from collapse.

Supported by my family, I took the risk and made the decision to return to India. On my return, I found the company in bad shape – the business model was not working, we were losing money and customers were unhappy. An immediate and necessary decision to lean out the team was taken, which resulted in a strike.

This was the start of a series of events where, over a period of 12 months, I was faced with new challenges and had to figure everything out. This taught me many things for which I am a better person and a better leader, as well the subject of two Harvard Business School case studies.

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About Manoj Sinha

Manoj Sinha, drawing on his experience growing up in rural India, co-founded Husk Power Systems to pioneer off-grid power generation and distribution for rural customers. Manoj has played an instrumental role in the technological and economic advancement of mini-grids as a rural energy solution in Asia and Africa. He has led the growth of Husk from a start-up to a major energy services player. Among other achievements, Husk is the first company to top 100 solar mini-grids, while also introducing AI and IoT to remotely manage its assets.