Does India Inc have good leaders? While you may nod your head in the affirmative, trusting the Indian economy’s rapid growth pace as being a good indicator, not many management and human resource experts share the same view.
India has had some great leaders but they have mostly been head honchos. That was good for the last decade where India Inc. was struggling to break the socialist shackle, but what we need now are leaders in each vertical and every team, be it of two or 2,000 people. India Inc., say experts, needs leaders who tell you where you need to go, and not where you have to go.
“India is moving very fast and has huge human potential. But moving a lot of people in the right direction is a challenge that most Indian leaders face,” says J Robert Carr, chief professional and business development officer with the Society for Human Resource Management, a US-based association devoted to human resource management.
India has great visionaries but not good executors. They realise the challenge and opportunity but when it comes to execution part, they are found wanting. Y.V. Lakshminarayan Pandit, managing director of SHL, a human resource development organisation, agrees with Carr. “A good leader has to be both—a visionary and a good executor. He should be able to motivate and influence people to work at the envisioned goal,” he says.
This is the greatest challenge facing Indian leaders and SHL has devised training modules to address it.
Transformational capability is the tool that helps leaders envision and develop capacity to create a team. The transactional capability tool helps in the execution part. Another tool, ‘360 degree’, helps identify potential leaders in an organisation.
Complacency or inability in creating a sense of urgency in the team is also an area where most Indian leaders lack. Unless the team delivers results within a stipulated period, the entire effort may be inadequate. Leading by example and actively interacting with the team is another area. “We call it ‘managing by wandering about’,” says Carr, emphasising the need to interact with the team.
In the US, reflection is part of the management process. This helps leaders dissect and understand the problem that they have faced, how better it could have been managed and what can be done if a similar problem arises. This exercise gives them a strategy and readies them to face similar challenges. This is found grossly missing from the Indian management scenario.
“Call it lack of time or complacency, Indian leaders don’t give much importance to learning from mistakes. This is an area that can hurt them most,” says Carr. Stakeholder management is also an area where we are found lacking. Given the huge population and large number of stakeholders, leaders have been unable to motivate and move them in a direction beneficial to the company. This requires interpersonal and negotiation skills which cannot be taught in a classroom.
“The ‘Disney Key to Excellence’ programme helps executives learn effective leadership, and has been the catalyst at Disney. Participants of the programme get to understand the best principles and practices of the company and how to go about it,” says Rohit Mahajan, Disney spokesperson and CEO & founder of Saviance Technologies.
Though India Inc. is going global, it has not yet adequately mastered the global perspective. Very often, a person handling a domestic vertical is given the additional charge of managing global business. Due to his improper understanding of global ground realities, the executive could find it difficult to deliver results. Certainly, Indians have the advantage of being quite resilient and capable of working in tough conditions. The global export of Indian managers since the past decade is an indicator of this.
Just think, if our globalising managers could add leadership values consciously to their strengths, how much more valuable they could be as leaders within and outside of India.