Kaleidoscope of Leadership: Setting a long-term path
Change will be impossible if leaders don't become good listeners, are global in their approach, have positive attitude and empower their people
The need for a global mindset has become more intense with increasing in-bound and out-bound mergers and acquisitions
The role of a leader as a collaborator, global player, innovator and change agent become important at a time when leaders need to deliver on short-term goals and set a long-term path for their companies
As we embark on the next growth phase, business leaders will need to assume four main characteristics - Collaborator, Global player, Innovator and Change agent. The ability of leaders to achieve results using others and as efficient executors will not suffice, as organizations will also need leaders to be strategic thinkers, with high degree of empathy and accountability for stakeholders.
Leader as Collaborator: The role of leaders in engaging their people and in collaborating with governments and other companies will become increasingly important in today’s complex environment. The sphere of a leader’s collaboration is vast expanding – as it will be among internal and external stakeholders, at a local as well as global level and will happen both face-to-face and virtual using latest technologies.
Collaboration will be required both internally and externally. While internally, behaviors like - empathy, ability to engage and to relate to people - will be crucial to inspire and retain employees, external collaboration too will be an imperative as organizations will have to learn to work in collaboration with each other to take advantage of the existing resources and infrastructure. The collaboration of telecom service providers Airtel, Vodafone and Idea in the past to share tower infrastructure and launch Indus Towers is an example of how front-end rivals collaborated at the back-end to share services and provide opportunities to each other to leverage the existing infrastructure. And increasingly, CEOs are actively involved in working with governments, regulators, social and cultural groups, industry forums and associations.
Leader as Global Player: The new leader will need to embrace differences and diversity, as businesses will expand globally and into unfamiliar markets This implies that CEOs will need to understand the nuances of diversity in terms of nationality, gender and ethnic group both from the talent and customer perspective. Today, many CEOs make it their top agenda to visit each of their office locations in each city, region or country to touch base with their employees, engaging with them and collaborating with them on improving operations and functioning of their business. PepsiCo’s Chief Executive Indra Nooyi visited various PepsiCo offices across the globe to understand the cultural nuances of the different locations where the company operates and how the company can come out with regional and customized products to cater to the demands of the consumers. The need for a global mindset has become more intense with increasing in-bound and out-bound mergers and acquisitions. It is imperative that leaders understand potential markets where they can expand to, the aspirations of global consumers and the expectation of a workforce that will need to be integrated with the team.
Leader as change agent for society: Accountability and responsibility beyond bottom-line will also play an important part in the leadership requirement. Organizations will need to look at the business impact besides the short term bottom and top line results. This broadening point of view involves the importance of social responsibility. Social responsibility can be good for business as inclusion and development give access to new pools of talent and new customer segments.
Leader as innovator: The unique and typical needs of customers in ‘developing economies’ are forcing companies to innovate and develop products for a whole new set of consumers who did not have access to such products earlier. Leaders will need to encourage collaboration among teams specially teams that are in the R&D or product design with teams that are in front sales or directly connecting with customers and creating processes for recognition of successes as well as failures. The Tata Nano is a prime example of such innovation and the leadership at Tata Motors – both at the group level and the company level – has demonstrated this ability to hone innovation across large teams.
While a decade ago, leaders were mostly judged by financial performance, today leaders are increasingly judged by their vision, their ability to perceive opportunities and their ability to create leaders around themselves.