The world is grappling with a crisis it has not seen before. And to steer the mass of humanity through this crisis, even the leadership has to reinvent itself. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown us one thing-the importance of leaders who can lead through a crisis with a balanced head and balance the talent experience with that of business continuity has never been so much as it is right now.
It is these very emerging HR leaders that the People Matters Are You In The List Awards in association with DDI India and Harappa Education aims to identify who can become the answer to the challenges in the people and workspace. The Awards, which is in its ninth year of running, has been the beacon helping to identify young emerging HR leaders to build the future pipeline of HR leaders. What are some of the traits of such leaders?
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Kamal Bali, President & MD, Volvo Group India, one of our jury members for People Matters Are You In The List Awards shares what do emerging talent leaders need to possess in order to be agile and future proof.
2020 has been a tough year. How do you think it will impact the way leadership needs to evolve?
This unprecedented and sudden turn of events in the form of the pandemic has shaken the economy and disrupted the way we work and do business. Leaders are bending over backward to manage the situation. The real problem is that of immense uncertainty and the associated anxiety that has gripped the world. But, we need to prepare for what comes next. Taking a clue from visionary leaders such as Nelson Mandela or Abraham Lincoln who didn’t react to the most imminent threats posed to them, we need the maturity to look beyond the dark horizon.
To cut the long story short, the business environment post-pandemic will land most of us into a very different territory than it was before the crisis. We need to start preparing for the ‘post-pandemic normal’ now. For this, leaders need a long term vision. A vision, that is consistent with a strengthened and renewed sense of larger purpose, will be a common denominator for leadership to succeed.
As COVID-19 has shown, organizations will have to equip themselves to deal with the rapid rate of change and all sorts of crises. What do you think are key characteristics of a leader who can lead through a crisis?
A crisis does not make a leader, it only unveils the true ones. This is indeed a good opportunity to course-correct and recalibrate the meaning of leadership. A submicroscopic organism has blurred all hierarchy and rendered titles meaningless. A standard procedure that made someone important and powerful in the past, is irrelevant now as the paradigms have changed dramatically.
The most glaring example is India. A country with decent economic muscle, responsible stakeholders, seeking solutions to issues relating to humanity, moral authority, and good public standing can overtake the leadership from the superpowers or “official” leaders at the top.
“The parameters/metrics of leadership are suddenly seeming to have transformed. The attributes of compassion, support, empathy and empowerment are the new ways for leadership to thrive.”
And, at the geopolitical stage, countries or leaders that can be at the forefront to help save humanity, environment and tackle poverty & recession will be the de facto global leaders. The same applies to organizations and people. The leadership position with titles will start to have dwindling influence unless that extends beyond a certain point where they understand and SEE the renewed importance of support, empathy & empowerment (SEE).
What are some of the workplace changes which leaders will need to lead their organizations through in order to be agile and future proof?
To deal with the emerging new world, you will need patience, empathy and resilience. This resilience is built on the tenets of understanding and adaptability. The pandemic has pushed back a massive reset button for all. The organizations need to be courageous enough to set aside standard metrics that are no longer relevant and compassionate enough for their employees to make independent decisions.
“Organizations need to break old barriers. Give people the freedom to innovate to see previously unseen opportunities and elevate their capacity as well as that of the organization.”
What do you think are some key characteristics which emerging talent leaders specifically need to possess?
The fundamental challenge is that humans detest uncertainty and unpredictability. But the good news is that we are also highly adaptable unless you have Metathesiophobia. According to Darwin, when he was building the Theory of Evolution, natural selection favored a sense of flexibility. So it is not always the survival of the fittest, it is also sometimes of the most adaptable. The sooner we learn to cope with uncertainty, we can start to imagine the future.
How do you think a program such as People Matters Are You In The List Awards help in identifying and fostering emerging talent leadership?
As I mentioned that the standard procedures, titles and preconceived outlooks will soon be a saga of a different past. In situations like these People Matters Awards will play a very key role in discovering, nurturing potential talent, sharing knowledge, and exposing such talent to bigger platforms. India has the potential to become a talent hotspot of the world.
What is the one advice you would like to give emerging HR leaders?
“To my mind, HR leaders will have an increasingly defining role in the emerging new journey, probably a role like never before. They will be the source of the new understanding and enablers of encouraging the mindset of support, empathy & empowerment (SEE).”
As per the research at Psychology Universities, some people may suffer from post-traumatic stress. HR leaders will play a game-changing role in supporting the workforce to realize their inner strength and a deeper sense of humility and gratitude. I would urge HR leaders across organizations to focus on redesigning jobs, build a culture of empathy and understanding, so as to drive the spirit of creativity and outcomes that make the entire organization more productive and proud.
Here’s your chance to make it to the coveted list of People Matters Are You In The List Awards 2020. Apply here to find whether you have it in you to make it to the list.