In an exclusive conversation we have with us Dr. Tanvi Gautam, CEO of Leadershift Inc. She is an award winning coach, keynote speaker, author and advisor to the C-suite. She is listed as a Game Changer by the Workforce Magazine (USA) and a top 10 social media influencer in the field of HR. Her view on future of work & leadership has been quoted/published in forums such as Forbes.com, Harvard Business Review, Economic Times and more. She works with global brands to help leaders be more impactful in the age of networks.
Q- You are a strong personal brand, what is most important thing people should know about you?
I did not consciously set out to create a personal brand. I did set out to be who I am with clarity and conviction. That led to a strong personal brand. I think this is important for people to understand that having a personal brand is about embodying more of who you are with the best of who you can be. That is what is needed from our leaders as well. To be more authentic and bring their talents and skills to bear upon things that they care about or have been put in their care.
I do consider leadership to be a celebration of the potential of others. Leaders must expand the range of possibility and potential for all in their sphere of influence. I have tried to do that through my speaking, coaching, consulting and teaching. Ultimately that is what gives you the honor to lead others i.e. lead them to their highest possibility.
Q- What is the role of networks in having a successful career and personal brand?
Like is often said, your network is your networth. People think of networking as something that is a transactional give and take.
They often think of networking when looking for a job or need something. That is not networking that is ‘need’ working. We have to look at networks as pathways to learning and opportunity that rises organically as we nurture & collaborate with like minded others.
One needs to be careful though about making sure that our networks are diverse and represent ideas that we may not be familiar with or even ideas that we feel un-comfortable about. That is what allows you to keep a mindset of learning and growing. HR people in particular should leverage the potential of social media and communities of learning to make sure that they are always connected to the cutting edge of thought and trends that can then help them shape the future of the organization. It is easier than ever to have global networks online but it needs to be something you mindfully need to cultivate and engage with.
Q- What are challenges for women in a global Career? And how to overcome the barriers to the same?
First is often not having the aspiration to a global career. Sometime we don’t set our goals that high. I would like to encourage everyone to learn to dream bigger for themselves. Secondly, managing an international career with family can be tough but not impossible to manage. The key is to look at your career and that of your spouse as a joint goal. It is not about your career or his; it is about your careers together. Sometimes one person may need to take a step back for the sake of the other person’s career. As long as it is an informed choice and not the role of one person to keep stepping back for the other, then in the long run you will be able to make it work out. It requires a conversation of co-creation. Skills that HR professionals should be able to leverage naturally. Thirdly, constantly learning and having an attitude of curiosity will allow you to thrive in global roles.
“They do have a sharp learning curve.” Be prepared for it and take it in your stride. Know who you are and what you want out of your career. This clarity is key. It is also the reason I just wrote and released my book – The spark lies within (and other secrets of women leading authentic and inspired lives).
Q- What are your thoughts on the future of HR in the age of AI and big data?
The question we have to ask is not just what technology can do but what humans can do now that technology is reaching higher capabilities. And the answer to that is creating purpose driven, inclusive and creative work environments where potential can thrive. I absolutely love what Bill McDermott (CEO of SAP) said – we need to think about augmented humanity. I consider HR to be a custodian of the talent within the firm. Which means they must lead with the human touch and not forget to apply technology for planning and execution. Robotization is passe. We need to talk about co-botosizing the man-machine interface. Much work needs still to be done.
When it comes to a competitive advantage, people with a cutting-edge mindset and companies with a cutting-edge culture will always supersede cutting-edge technology. This is also the reason I am currently focusing on a huge amount of work with my technology clients on creating a narrative and culture of purpose orientation for their people.
Here are some questions I think HR needs to think about in the age of AI & big data – What would you as an HR person do differently if you saw your role not as a job but as a responsibility to the people in your company? How would you talk to the employees if you were an enabler of potential rather than a keeper of records? What if employees saw HR as their biggest advocate rather than an adversary? In other words, for a great workforce experience HR must reimagine its own role and brand. HR needs to reinvent itself both at a mental model as well as execution level.
Also the toolkit of HR needs a major upgrade. Two tools that I work with a lot with my own clients and leaders are leveraging social media for brand building and conversation and second is corporate storytelling. None of these were as important in the age of hierarchies as they have become in the age of networks. Similarly, actively seeking, leveraging and honoring diversity not just by a focus on demographics but also diversity in thought, in leadership styles, in neurobiology is something that will allow a great workforce experience as it allows employees to feel more inclusion and belongingness.
Q – What is the best piece of advice that you got that has guided you own work & career.
Best piece of advice I ever got was from my grandfather – always leave a place better than you found it.It has been a theme in all institutions and clients I have been associated with. It drives me to learn more,to do more and be more. If we all did that bit to make it a little better imagine the world we would live in! When people take responsibility and are measured for accountability the whole organization starts to change. People want to contribute; we must give them the opportunity to do so. More often than not companies get bogged down in doing the thing right rather than doing the right thing. This has to change.
Thank you Dr. Tanvi!