The giant aircraft waits silently at its bay. The once shiny contours are layered with dust. The giant turbines of its many powerful engines turn slowly and erratically, choking on the mixture of poisonous vapours remaining in the fuel tanks. The pilot sits silently, hunched over the yoke, awaiting clearance to fly late, again. He’s tried to take-off before, but some snag or other has brought the plane back to its chocks.
It is pertinent to mention that this particular machine carries more than 1.2 billion passengers and is worth around two trillion dollars! This dream asset, and the opportunity it presents, is of Brobdingnagian proportions!
But pathetic sub-5% performance (optimistically estimated), outrageous pricing, fractured infrastructure, ruthlessly invasive competitors and more, have drained both revenues and popularity. Issues involving the management, people, finances and operations have added to the sorry picture. Passengers now have an opportunity to change. Their options:
- Continue ‘flying’ relying on promises made by a new pilot-in-waiting who’s never flown before. Well, he’s the son of a pilot, yet he is challenged by the vast array of controls on the dash. No matter, his dominating family will ensure he never gets to go solo anyway! In fact, his mom has invented a complex remote-control system that controls everything in the cockpit – reducing the pilot and crew into rank figureheads.
- Shift to another airline that has, phoenix-like, risen after a devastating crash and crumble ten years ago. Their fiery pilot is pitching for his next promotion. If given the role, he promises higher on-time performance, efficient operations and better value for money. Many consider him capable, others point out that he’s only flown small equipment – around his backyard.
- Punt on the newbie! That new kid, noisy and untidy, who suddenly popped up – literally out of nowhere. A veritable cat among the pigeons! Please – I say this in a positive vein. He sounds sound, theoretically. His rave is primarily about compliance. However, when recently given a chance, he crash-landed just 49 miles into the 1,825-mile journey. But, he still wants to play.
Happily, most passengers agree on one thing: a total, overwhelming overhaul is overdue; replacing the incumbent pilot, the crew and the staff. Streamlining processes; operations, maintenance, security, international and domestic marketing, commercial and everything. Similar to what the world’s largest democracy is trying to do these days.
So, what competencies should the CEO and new leadership team have? Traditional methods of assessing the talent requirements may not work, given the task on hand. But the usual things would hold good – strategy, teamwork and result oriented, those will help!
The more pertinent question would be what leadership styles the new team should deploy, in order to drive their manifesto and change the climate of the country. From Hay Group’s Inventory of Leadership Styles, the new leadership would need to have three (overtly) dominant styles:
- Visionary: The new government must immediately determine and make public their national strategy and focus everything around it.
- Directive: To drive the strategy, under the current circumstances, leaders would need to be hard-hitters. The Directive leadership style is prescribed for crisis situations. We’re close to one. A bit of my-way-or-the-highway may actually be beneficial.
- Pacesetting: Setting aggressive milestones and alternatives. If the designated implementers are unable to deliver, understudies should be immediately deployed. Whether it’s building roads, or enhancing defense capabilities, or education, or healthcare. Execution has traditionally been a weakness.
Affiliative could be a back-up style. After all, it doesn’t look like any single party will get a clear mandate. Partnerships, and horse-trading, would eventually cobble a majority. Some molly-coddling and a bit of a share in decision-making would be required.
There’s little room for:
- Participative: Despite being a democracy, there’s a limit to collective opinionating – as a certain state government recently discovered. It failed! There’s no time to keep garnering consensus. The aforementioned dominant styles wouldn’t leave any bandwidth anyway.
- Coaching: If change has to happen, everyone has to proactively contribute. The government will not, and actively should not, enhance the coochie-coo, hand-out culture that’s been draining the economy. Not happening losers!
Maybe it sounds like autocracy is the price we have to pay if we expect a positive change and expect the economy to come back on track. If we expect security and overall development to happen – not just in the cities, but in the remotest of villages, it’s necessary to take such steps.
If we can proudly flaunt our LBD (that’s little black dot, please), we would have made our decision already. Hopefully, as we pressed that EVM button, we were personally convinced that our change leader would indeed be one in a billion.