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No two leaders are alike and neither is there a one-size-fits-all approach to successful leadership. While leadership has never been easy, the challenge is particularly bigger today as social media and digitization puts every action of a leader under the microscope. As 2019 approaches, here are seven ways in which leaders can better shape their organisations to future-proof success.
1) Agile is the way to go:
37% of organizations in McKinsey’s recent survey revealed that they are currently conducting company-wide agile transformations, while 4% said they are already there i.e. they have fully implemented such transformations. Why the heightened focus on agility? With market and consumer demands changing rapidly, being agile can enable organizations to experiment quickly to respond to the changes or even anticipate them ahead of time. IT giant TCS is aggressively leveraging collaboration and communication technologies to become enterprise-agile by 2020.
2) Blend work and life, not just balance them:
Famously endorsed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, work-life blend is about abandoning the traditional approach of balancing work and life. It is about viewing the two as integrated parts. As part of the new philosophy, Bezos advises employees to quit balancing work and life - which implies that one has to make a constant trade-off. Instead, look at work and life as part of a circle to help employees achieve holistic harmony between the two.
3) Plan for succession – all year long:
This is especially true for senior employees as the competitive landscape continues to heat up and talent markets will remain candidate-driven in 2019. Organizations that view the c-suite as static risk can become too comfortable with status quo, and as a result, suffer a heavy jolt when a senior member leaves. Remember how a homegrown IT giant’s unpreparedness for leadership transition came to the forefront when former CEO exited, in 2016? Organizations that make succession planning part of their routine business strategy are naturally better placed to ensure a robust talent pipeline to accommodate dynamic leadership changes.
4) Emphasize continuous learning – both for the organization and its people:
With organizations becoming more agile and new technologies flooding the world of work, it’s more important than ever to promote continuous learning. Upskilling, cross-skilling and retraining programs should be a key priority for organizations in 2019, if they are to create a sustainable competitive advantage. An important point – learning does not mean formal training alone. It can be in the form of mentoring programs or even micro-learning courses that employees can access on their own, when and where needed. Indigo Airlines, The Mahindra Group, and Google are some companies that have invested in this new L&D model and are seeing high impact results.
5) Make corporate culture the holy grail:
A recent Wall Street article argued whether the ‘C’ in CIO now stands for ‘culture’? We say, why only in the case of CIO, the question should hold true for the entire c-suit. Gartner’s recent symposium also emphasized the need for organizations to get serious about their corporate culture. Whether you appoint a Chief Culture Officer or Culture Hacker to shape your organizational culture, the bottom line is this: to create a positive culture, all leaders must forge an emotional connection, be highly visible, and promote collaboration.
6) Shift the focus of authenticity from leaders to workers:
Gen Y and Gen Z talent are looking for collaborative, not command-and-control workplaces. This means leaders who can lead with empathy will see positive results in the future. Doing so requires cultivating authenticity in leading others, being sensitive, understanding, and relating to employees’ problems and motivations, in order to ensure value-driven leadership. In Indian workplaces, empathy has been shown to be particularly low. In their bid to outperform competitors, most Indian companies are transforming into ruthless production machines. Clearly, this is an important area to work on in 2019.
7) Promote diversity in the workplace:
Diversity gives organizations access to a wider talent pool, makes them more productive, innovative, and most importantly, profitable. Why then do so many organizations fail to create a diverse workplace? Two key reasons account for the failure. One is organizations’ inability to align organizational goals with diversity practices, and the second is the gap between the design and implementation of diversity policies. Companies should take a cue from Godrej Group, Culture Machine, and other successful companies that are doing a great job of incorporating diversity and inclusion in their corporate strategy.
Don’t ‘wait and watch’ at a time when speed is paramount
That the rate of change – in organizations, markets, and consumers - will only accelerate in future is a given. Leaders need to abandon the traditional ‘wait and watch’ approach, and keep tabs on emerging trends and predictions to prepare for the unforeseen. However, it is not uncommon for organizations to be caught unawares given the rapidly evolving marketplace. In such times, the pillars of agility, culture, diversity and learning will help your organization sail through unscathed.
The Hindu Business Line