Article: The making of a leader!


The making of a leader!

A People Matters-DDI roundtable revealed innovative ways of making training programs efficient
The making of a leader!

The importance of consistent improvements was highlighted during the roundtable series and it was unanimously agreed that “what gets reviewed, gets done”


Many organizations want to do more with less. But, in order to keep up pace with the rapid change in business, they need leaders to show them the right direction. The problem lies therein – the pipeline of ‘ready’ leaders always falls short of the need. Even as companies harness technology and social media tools to streamline the process, HR still stumbles on multiple roadblocks that affect the process of creating leaders for tomorrow.

One learning platform – the DDI-People Matters roundtable series – brought together people from both sides to showcase their views and learn from each other. The roundtables on “Accelerating Leadership Development” held across three cities was attended by senior HR professionals and thought leaders from across industries.

Andrew Warren-Smith, Managing Director of DDI India, said, “The way we are going to work in the future is going to be very different from the way we worked in the past or the present as the world is undergoing rapid changes in technology and work dimensions. Therefore, it is very essential to answer a few questions that we are likely to face going further as we will need to have right leaders ready faster and business leaders to be involved whole-heartedly.” The sessions focused on four key questions/challenges and offered immense learning to the participants as they shared and witnessed ideas and solutions to these challenges:

How to make the training programs sticky, addressing the lack of “stickiness” or application of skills learnt in training?

How to gain the support and the commitment from line managers and business leaders?

Is it possible to do more with less, considering challenges faced in developing key skills with limited time and resources?

How to harness the power of technology and social media?

The Thorns

As the corporate world is going through a whirlwind of demographic changes in the workforce, technological advancements, shrinking resources and increasing shortage of time, the HR function is facing numerous challenges in getting right leaders ready faster. Be it any industry or vertical, the biggest roadblock exists in the way of getting commitment and accountability from the leaders and the line managers. The unspoken fact is that HR in most organizations today faces the tricky situation of being expected to be an active partner to business on the one hand, but are seen as meddlers on the other.

Pointing out to another challenge at the leadership level, Puja Kapoor, Head-HR, Dunnhumby, said, “With changing times, the know-it-all attitude at the senior levels is a bottleneck in leadership.” It is indeed undeniable that now when the major workforce population comprises millennials, the leadership cannot bind themselves in their own knowledge domains. Raj Gupta, Head - Learning & Development [BPS], Tata Consultancy Services, said, “There is a need to introduce reverse mentoring so that senior leaders better appreciate the dynamics of the workforce and work practices in the fast changing business landscape.”

Evolving organizational and workforce dynamics, a lack of alignment with the line managers, clashes between HR and business expectations and missing uniformity across various hierarchal levels in terms of their accountability towards developing people were some of the hurdles that HR had to encounter. In a lot of cases, people who should ideally be trained are missed and in reality only people who are available at the time attend the trainings. Budget constraints form an additional challenge.

On the technology front, most participants shared that there is still a lot of scope to optimally utilize data analytics in getting HR processes aligned to business outcomes. Gamification also holds a strong future in its utilization for induction, trainings and leadership development through simulations etc. A few companies have already started experiencing the benefits of these techniques while the market is still growing.

The Roses

Roses bloomed amidst the thorns as the solutions to the challenges faced were discussed amongst the HR leaders. Each HR leader shared effective and practical ways to increase the stickiness of the programs and build credibility among line managers and other levels as the crux of the discussion remained ‘collaboration and involvement’.

Shalini Sarin, Country Partner - VP, HR & CSR, Schneider Electric India, said, “Training programs would be meaningful and effective only if there is a co-creation of such programs. Tools like strategic workforce planning can be undertaken with practically calculating the business outputs expected and the leadership inputs required, considering the cost attached to workforce. It would ensure co-creation of programs rather than simply trying to gain buy-in from business leaders.”

Highlighting the importance of consistent improvements, the HR leaders noted that “what gets reviewed, gets done”. It meant re-looking into the existing programs to constantly make sure they offer the required set of leadership development to the ever changing workforce diversity. This also hinted towards the fact that HR has been able to create a pull factor in order to involve people from all levels, exposing them to a pertinent business value in the leadership programs through business aligned training modules.

Organizations are now looking at having more in-house training programs connected to business strategy as leaders internally know what kind of work their people do, what the training requirements at each level are and can impart accordingly. Adding to that, it’s also important to look into the relevance of the programs and test them before rolling out to the entire audience.

Addressing the power of technology, a group of HR leaders felt that onboarding and induction through using selection data are best practices that are gaining a lot of momentum in the current times. Organizations are looking at synergizing technologies in mobile, social media and utilizing them in trainings and L&D to make the programs interesting, contemporary and largely keeping pace with the newcomers as well.

As newer ways of engaging line managers and business leaders into training programs and making the programs stick longer are emerging nowadays, leveraging technology to the optimum levels and doing more with less grab the maximum weightage. Businesses are aligned to the trainings while making the best use of the time and resources available resulting into a healthier leadership pipeline for the future. With the four agendas falling into place, it cannot be denied that the future will see more roses than thorns!

Talking Heads

Prajakta Kanaglekar

Leader in Leadership Programs, GE India

At GE, we believe in value creation in the eyes of line managers before implementing anything. Our managers go through continuous learning and get acclimatized to on-the-job training on performance management, dealing with challenging scenarios and getting introduced to a robust ecosystem of human resources. We have designed a three-day program IFLA (India Frontline Leaders Academy) where all the courses are taught by business leaders. This initiative has received encouraging feedback, helping us create a learning environment and introducing credible programs for new employees.

Sugato Palit

Executive Director HR & Admin, Experion

Whilst designing programs, we have to keep pace with the changing millennial expectations. It’s important we test and pilot any programs designed before we roll them out. Also, we need to leverage HR analytics in a much better way in order to be able to identify the 20 per cent area that can have an 80 per cent impact in reducing costs.

Sekhar Sahay

Head of Learning, Organisation Development and Performance Management, Ericsson

It’s very important to have a strong operating system before we introduce any additional applications. In the same way, it’s about getting your leaders to sit back, relax, reflect and meditate on the stuff that essentially builds the operating system that they work from and then build the applications on top of it. The operating system here implies the values of the organization.

Shalini Sarin

Country Partner - VP, HR & CSR, Schneider Electric India

We have an interesting practice to enable doing more with less, while increasing credibility and engagement where we build internal consultants. Through this initiative, we pick up the country-specific burning business situations and ask the HiPos to help find a solution not only as a consultant/advisor, but also as an implementation partner.

Satya N.V.

Head - Human Resource Division, Huawei

Technologies India

The application of 10-20-70 principle is very essential for providing consistent development. This implies that for ensuring effectiveness of a training program, managers need to take care that learning (10 per cent) is reinforced through exposure (20 per cent) and experience (70 per cent) in relevant live projects. Positive behavioural change in the leaders is one of the key effectiveness measures of leadership programs.

Prashant Khullar

Director – HR, Taj Luxury Hotels, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces

SPEED (Special Program for Employee Education & Development) is a standard growth platform and an innovative program at Taj Group that works as a solution to the challenges of training programs being person dependent. It not only allows people to grow faster in organizational hierarchies after they’ve completed one year in the company, it also allows them a lot of exposure and learning for individual development.

Dipak Gadekar

Head - HR, International Operations, Voltas

In some organizations, it is seen that with every change of the HR director there are huge changes in the ‘leadership model’ and associated trainings, which creates a lot of confusion and cynicism around. Leadership development is not a seasonal activity. It should be thought through & planned on a long-term basis, identifying the preferred model and working only on that on a sustained basis aligning it to the business challenges.

Raghavendra K

Vice President & Head – HR, Infosys BPO Ltd (Progeon)

It is imperative that the senior management is engaged in deciding what tasks and responsibilities should be eliminated or done less often so that we can control costs and which are the most crucial ones. The management should be able to decide tolerable trade-offs. Cost cutting surely is a dreadful task, but thoughtful approach can result in reconstituted offerings that provide better value to external and internal customers and the same goes for the training programs.

G. Y. Suhas

Head-HR, IR &

Administration, L&T Construction Equipment

Line managers and business leaders are virtually the spokespersons of management for all the employees working in the organization. Line managers know the strengths of and opportunities for improvement for the employees working with them. In many organizations, it so happens that line managers get sidelined when the decisions are made. When decisions are taken by the senior management without active involvement of the line managers and business leaders, they cannot be implemented effectively. To gain the support and the commitment from the line managers and business leaders, it is essential that they be involved in the decision-making, their concerns and views should be considered in right spirit before arriving at & in the implementation of the decisions.

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Topics: Leadership, Learning & Development, #BestPractices

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