Article: Leadership opportunities must align with an individual's natural strengths: Gallup’s Rohit Kar

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Leadership opportunities must align with an individual's natural strengths: Gallup’s Rohit Kar

From the emphasis on competencies like relationship-building, inspiring others, and critical thinking to a shift towards strength orientation – Gallup’s Rohit Kar spoke to People Matters about the Gallup approach to leadership development and more.
Leadership opportunities must align with an individual's natural strengths: Gallup’s Rohit Kar

John C Maxwell famously said that there is almost no limit to the potential of an organisation that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them. In the pursuit of comprehensive organisational success, the significance of leadership development cannot be overstated. Combined with a focus on building competencies, they form a dynamic duo that empowers organisations to adapt to change, foster innovation, and build a resilient and skilled workforce capable of steering the company toward sustained success in today's dynamic business landscape.

In a freewheeling chat with People Matters, Rohit Kar, Gallup's regional director for Australia, New Zealand, and India, offered valuable insights into the ever-evolving realm of leadership competencies and strategies that are critical for driving growth and success.

Excerpts: 

What leadership skills should HR prioritise for driving sustainable organizational success?

There is often a disparity between measuring competencies and actual development. Traditionally, tools like 360-degree assessments were viewed as mere evaluations, lacking a strong tie to developmental strategies. We've revolutionised this approach by tightly integrating measurement with developmental initiatives, ensuring a more holistic and developmental process.

Our approach emphasises a shift towards strength orientation. While acknowledging the relevance of competencies, we encourage leaders to harness their existing strengths to evolve into an enhanced version of themselves. We emphasise competencies like relationship-building, leading change, inspiring others, critical thinking, clear communication, and fostering accountability. These competencies are the cornerstone of our framework, each containing nuanced sub-behaviors crucial for effective leadership. Ultimately, our focus is on leveraging and enhancing existing strengths to drive continuous improvement and holistic leadership development.

In the rapidly changing business landscape, how do you ensure that leadership development programs remain agile and adaptable to evolving leadership demands?

It is essential not only to observe the changes within the business landscape but also to recognise what remains constant. While there's a vast array of literature and research on leadership development, an often overlooked aspect is followership. Surprisingly, few resources delve into understanding the needs and desires of followers within organisations.

Gallup's exploration into this arena uncovered four fundamental needs followers seek: Trust, Stability, Hope, and Compassion. These elements have stood the test of time, are deeply ingrained in human nature, and have persisted unchanged over decades in the workplace. The challenge is to grasp these unchanging essentials and then innovate to cater to the evolving preferences of millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha by leveraging technology and innovative methods.

Focusing on these enduring aspects, we acknowledge the unalterable truths about human behaviour while concurrently adapting our strategies to address the evolving peripheral elements. The goal isn't to reinvent everything but to strike a balance by retaining fundamental constants and innovatively adapting to the changing landscape without compromising the essence of these core human needs. This approach ensures leadership development programs remain adaptable and relevant without losing sight of the timeless aspects of human nature and workplace dynamics.

Employee engagement is closely tied to effective leadership. How does a leadership development strategy address the issue of employee engagement and satisfaction?

In addressing the correlation between effective leadership and employee engagement, our approach to leadership development strategy emphasises the enduring elements that remain constant amid technological advancements and societal shifts. We prioritise understanding the unchanging fundamental aspects of human nature, acknowledging that regardless of external influences, certain core needs persist.

At Gallup, when we delve into engagement, we recognise that employees bring their emotions into the workplace. To measure these emotions productively, we simplify the process, ensuring it remains straightforward and outcome-oriented. 

Our focus lies in enabling managers to engage in meaningful conversations by providing adaptable frameworks and tools. We ensure scalability, speed, and agility in our delivery methods to cater to changing consumption patterns without altering the essence of what we deliver – because the core principles of management don't require alteration.

Our unique approach lies in retaining fundamental principles while adapting to the evolving landscape. We maintain a simplified yet effective structure that resonates with every organisational level. Leveraging research-backed frameworks, such as our simplified framework for team-level engagement, culture, and performance, we ensure the predictability of performance outcomes. The crux is aligning these fundamentals with predictive performance measures, ensuring that our approach not only identifies key aspects but also aligns with organisational needs. By anchoring our strategies in these enduring principles and aligning them with performance, we bridge the gap between effective leadership, engagement, and organisational success.

In leadership development, how does the competency framework help organisations identify and nurture high-potential leaders? What are the key factors that make this framework effective in leadership development?

Our ultimate aspiration is to create an environment where individuals flourish naturally within roles that harmonise seamlessly with their innate capabilities. Some of the key factors of this framework include: 

  • Coachable vs. intrinsic traits: We focus on developing coachable competencies while recognizing innate traits that remain unchangeable. Our talent assessments unveil intrinsic qualities beyond trainable behaviors.

  • Attributes that impact success: Certain traits, like risk-taking ability, are inherent and pivotal for success. Aligning innate tendencies with workplace needs is crucial in hiring for optimal role fit.

  • Harmonising strengths with roles: We want individuals to be able to operate in roles that are perfectly aligned with their natural inclinations and aim to identify and develop strengths that seamlessly fit specific job requirements. This works towards both individual and organisational success.

Many organisations struggle with leadership succession planning. How does the Competency Framework assist organisations in identifying and preparing future leaders?

The crux lies in striking a harmonious balance between evaluating unchangeable traits, akin to non-coachable attributes, during the hiring process while simultaneously fostering and developing coachable competencies. This equilibrium is pivotal for optimal outcomes.

In our organisational approach, we implement a "baseball card" system. Each leader within the organisation possesses a comprehensive baseball card, which is a single slide or page containing information about everything from talent attributes, strengths and career journey to engagement metrics, promotions, risks, and more.

When it comes to succession discussions, our executives and leaders do not rely on subjective opinions or assumptions. Instead, armed with data and robust research, we engage in informed dialogues, evaluating an individual's potential for success or areas that may require attention. This approach allows us to make educated decisions based on factual insights rather than guesswork. We also predict readiness levels, forecasting someone's preparedness for higher roles within a specific timeframe. Once identified, we chart a development roadmap, outlining tailored interventions, experiences, aspirations, and projects necessary for their growth and readiness over the designated period.

By leveraging this comprehensive approach, grounded in data-driven insights, we equip organisations with a structured and strategic method for identifying, grooming, and preparing future leaders, thereby mitigating the challenges typically associated with leadership succession planning.

In a rapidly changing business environment, how does Gallup's manager development approach help organisations ensure their managers remain effective and adaptable to evolving leadership demands?

We put a lot of emphasis on the transition from being a boss to becoming a coach. In today's fast-paced and intricately evolving work environments, preparing leaders and managers to drive cultural changes successfully becomes paramount. However, complicating and burdening them with intricate processes that lack relevance to their roles only hampers their ability to achieve success. 

Instead, our approach is rooted in simplicity. We aim to equip managers with straightforward frameworks and streamlined tools, emphasising strengths-based engagement and performance-oriented methods that align with their natural inclinations. This approach empowers them to own their leadership and management styles organically. Practicality is key. We guide them on active listening, facilitating difficult conversations, managing low and high performers, fostering team resilience, and prioritising well-being.

Gallup's manager development approach thrives on simplicity and practicality, empowering managers to adapt seamlessly to evolving leadership demands without overwhelming them, enabling them to navigate complexities with confidence and ease.

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Topics: Leadership, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development

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