In this first of many conversations under the “Become the best version of yourself” webinar series hosted by the SOIL Institute of Management, their Founder and Chairman Anil Sachdev engaged in an inspiring conversation with GV Prasad, MD, Dr. Reddy’s Lab.
In this conversation, Prasad talks about his undeterred focus on integrity, urges leaders to not trade the interest of one stakeholder for another, and encourages sharing the pandemic triggered pain borne by the workforce with empathy and honest dialogue.
Read on for highlights from the conversation.
Making a difference in the lives of people
Reflecting on the moments that stood out for him in his journey with Dr. Reddy’s, spanning over three decades, Prasad shared that moments where the organization created an impact in the healthcare sector, and launched affordable and accessible health care products across the globe, such moments brought him pride and happiness.
It all boils down to being able to make a positive difference in the lives of stakeholders for Prasasd. He strongly believes that every stakeholder needs to be taken care of, without having to forsake the interest of one for another. How is the organization doing that? They abide by three pillars to guide them:
- People practices: The emphasis on people stands out clearly in the conversation, be it about equipping employees with the right tools to succeed, encouraging them to be independent, or be it leadership practices, and the importance placed on integrity for a leader. Having experienced a challenging phase where close to 200 employees followed a leader on his way out, the need to have a broader skill set for the remaining workforce emerged. “Organizations cannot depend on leaders, they need to have a broad set of skills and adapt.” Instilling such adaptability, the pharma major has been able to successfully go global, with a larger workforce united by a common purpose.
- Governance: The second pillar Prasad notes is governance. He notes that governance and people practices are interrelated. “When a large number of people realize that the company is making a difference in the world and they can contribute to that difference, that mobilizes the vision,” says Prasad. He believes that transparency is key to ensuring the overarching goal is one and all organizational and individual efforts are directed at achieving that.
Beyond having one common purpose, the workforce must work towards the good of all stakeholders - be it promoters,customers or patients - “Not trading the interest of one sub-group for another,” insists Prasad.
- Science and technology: A firm believer of the potential and large scale impact that can be brought in by the infusion of technology in the organization, especially in the current times where digital is the route to keep businesses in business, Prasad reckons, “Innovation, science and technology are a recipe for success.” At a time when the entire world has its hopes on the pharma sector to bring them a solution to the prolonged pandemic, and the industry itself having to practice distancing yet ensure continuous conversations to stay on the forefront, Prasad says, “Technology will enable interactions,” and these interactions will strengthen the foundation of a digitally connected world.
‘We don’t speak values, we live them’
How does one get a large global organization to believe in a common purpose? How does one get a large workforce to own a common purpose and show up in the best possible way to achieve that purpose? At Dr. Reddy’s, they do that by living the values, “We don’t speak about values, we live them,” says Prasad. He adds, “It speaks of the kind of the leaders the organization has”.
As important as it is to upskill employees and empower them to be independent, it is equally important to take note of your leaders, it surely helps to look for key traits when appointing or hiring a leader. Here are some guiding points that help the industry veteran differentiate good leaders from the rest:
- Ability to pursue excellence
- Motivated beyond one’s own interest
“Intelligence without integrity is dangerous,” quips Prasad. A leader must encompass character, competence and enthusiasm.
These qualities are what help a leader navigate challenges with resilience, which he/she/they role model and pass on to the workforce to incorporate, enabling them to thrive through change. “Resilience is a quality you need to create.” Prasad suggests that resilience is key to be able to skip the negative spiral one tends to get pulled into. “Stay calm and support people in this journey.”
Share the pain
Among the biggest concerns today is the financial health of organizations, and consequently employees. To sail through the difficult times brought on by COVID-19, businesses have had to make difficult decisions by implementing pay cuts across the workforce, the numbers varying basis the impact on the organization. Though such a step was critical to stay afloat, the financial setback has been worrying for many, from leaders to frontline employees to the new entrants to the workforce. It has triggered greater fear about the uncertainties that lie ahead and lack of clarity on how long will the situation stay the same.
This is where Prasad recommends sharing the pain. He urges leaders to be sensitive to the challenges faced by employees and deal with people with compassion and empathy. While people at the top need to take a greater share of the pain, he encourages them to act with courage, conviction and fairness when tackling the financial crisis.
In sharing the pain, Prasad also emphasizes the need to stay calm.
“It is important to be calm to realize what you can work out and what you can do nothing about.”
He says, “Focus on what you can do to make the situation better, and act upon it...Being in a state of fear or worry makes one go into a zone of inaction.”
So what can leaders do today with no respite on the financial front in the foreseeable future? Organizations need to be transparent in communication, be empathetic and compensate through non-monetary avenues to the extent possible. “Companies need to do everything they can, they need to keep workplaces safe and not contribute to chaos and misinformation, educate employees and empower them with knowledge on how to be healthy.”
In such circumstances where every single employee, irrespective of whether a boomer or a millennial, is experiencing a setback, it becomes imperative to approach such circumstances with a lens of empathy, and honesty and preparing to overcome the challenges together, with one common purpose.
Image credits: buinesstoday.in