Article: Leaders must upskill, reskill to stay relevant, competitive, even survive, in post-pandemic world: DDI’s Bruce Watt

Leadership

Leaders must upskill, reskill to stay relevant, competitive, even survive, in post-pandemic world: DDI’s Bruce Watt

In the post-pandemic world, leaders are devising - or will need to devise - ways through which they can better connect with their employees and keep them engaged and at the same time, also ensure certain decisions are relevant from a business point of view, says Bruce Watt, Senior VP at global leadership consulting firm DDI, Europe, India and Australia.
Leaders must upskill, reskill to stay relevant, competitive, even survive, in post-pandemic world: DDI’s Bruce Watt

As companies across the globe, apart from those who benefited due to the pandemic, are coming to terms with the post-pandemic world, leaders are expected to run alongside their team and be accessible for quick-fire decisions.

In such a scenario, it is imperative for leaders to adapt to the changing market dynamics. And only leaders with different skills will be able to navigate this crisis and recovery, says Bruce Watt, Senior VP at global leadership consulting firm DDI, Europe, India and Australia.

In an interaction with People Matters, Watt, who has been with DDI for more than two decades and is in-charge of its operations in Europe, India and Australia, the DDI’s Global Centre of Excellence in Pittsburgh and DDI licensee operations around the world, talks about how leaders have transited post-pandemic, the need for them to upskill themselves for the newer world of business, how Indians are the most sought after executives for heading global conglomerates, and trends in the leadership hiring space.

Here are some excerpts

What are some critical areas that business leaders should focus on in the post-pandemic world?

As the hybrid way of working will continue to stay for a while, leaders are devising ways through which they can better connect with their employees and keep them engaged and at the same time, also ensure certain decisions are relevant from a business point of view. This calls for providing new tools to help leaders reinforce their communication and coaching skills. These will ensure that the leader and team stay engaged and employees are retained.

How important is upskilling for leaders for the newer world of business post-pandemic?

Pandemic ravaged many industries, thereby, making industry leaders acknowledge the importance of upskilling and reskilling so as to stay relevant, competitive and more importantly, survive in a totally unpredictable market.

As technological disruption became the norm of the day, the urgency for leaders to quickly adapt to the latest environment to function efficiently became critical, which meant doing away with old and redundant skill sets.

This called for an urgent need for overhauling of not only employees but even business leaders who are looked upon during uncertainties. Every aspect of the business and department were forced to change their strategies.

What are some of the trends in the leadership hiring space in the post pandemic era?

The leadership pipeline is broken and every organisation struggles to fill senior leadership positions from within.

This scenario hasn’t changed dramatically in the pre-pandemic/post-pandemic era. However, identifying leaders that align to not just the cultural context but also the business strategy is becoming increasingly important.

We are seeing a very rapid increase in selection assessments and the boards of organisations are looking for sharper insights as they cannot afford to go wrong as the businesses look bullish in their growth prospects.

Why do you think Indians are the most sought-after executives for heading global conglomerates? What skills make them so preferred? 

Indians are the most sought-after executives when it comes to heading global conglomerates, especially tech.

My assessment is that apart from completing engineering in regional engineering universities and pursuing MBA, MS and PhD degrees from various foreign universities, one remarkable thing which gives them an edge over others is their ground-breaking way of approaching their respective target consumers or markets when they are appointed to head certain product development divisions or centres.

Home to a large number of MNCs and big home-grown corporate houses, Indian professional graduates are well-versed with global standards and requirements. Also, what makes them unique is the adaptability and diversity they exhibit - and which global conglomerates seek.

What are DDI India’s future plans?

Over the last decade, DDI India has done some very good work in building a stronger leadership bench for their clients, either by diagnosing talent gaps in the context of the business drivers or by developing leaders and helping organisations deliver impact.

DDI globally has been working "by the side" of leaders and helping them develop as they work.

Corporate India has a very large middle management that is largely ignored and not developed over time. This puts the future of organisations at risk. I see DDI India, like in other parts of the world, helping build a stronger middle management over the next few years.

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Topics: Leadership, Skilling, Leadership Development, #HybridLeadership

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