Many leaders are fearful of the future and how it will get managed

Many leaders are fearful of the future and how it will get managed
The recent pandemic has definitely taught us what VUCA means – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous. But many of us also learnt that it stands for Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility.

Rendezvous With Avishkar Mehrotra Founder, Neo Navigate, and Ex-Chief People Officer, Walmart India

An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Avishkar is the founder of Neo Navigate, and a Startups Founder, Entrepreneur & Executive coach with around 25 years of extensive leadership experience. He launched Neo Navigate with the purpose of ‘making a difference by helping people navigate better & transform the future.

He has been a global business executive with companies like Walmart Inc., General Electric, GENPACT, and NIIT Technologies. At Walmart, he was the Senior Vice President & Chief People Officer for the India business. He held multiple leadership roles at GE & Genpact spanning from Technology, Six Sigma, Operations to Human Resources.

Avishkar has worked across large multi-cultural global teams and has significant experience & exposure managing global stakeholders through strong relationship & influencing skills; is result-oriented with high customer service orientation and business focus; beliefs are that Trust, Respect & Empowerment are the key pillars of engagement while performing in a Team.

Q- Why are traditional ideas of leadership no longer relevant and what can we do about it?

Every employee wants to be a Value Creator, whether s/he is a part of the frontline, middle, or senior management. Performance Management process plays a big role in measuring the same basis the objectives which have been set.

However, the leaders have bias towards their senses of seeing, touching, and feeling. If they don’t see a person in front of their eyes working, they don’t know whether a person is working or not. The focus is on tasks that the person is performing versus the output the person is generating. This is the old mindset of the Industrial era, where people were required to come to the factory and execute the process day in & day out.

As we are already in the Digital world and as we move ahead, we will see everything around us changing. The leaders need to focus on Outcomes rather than Tasks.

The new generation workforce also expects that they are trusted with their abilities to provide the outcome that is required, versus they being watched for all the tasks they are performing.

This also helps with Innovation. The employee can think differently while creating the output which is required. Else the manager/leader would want them to follow the same old ways of working, restricting any possibilities of innovation.

Leaders will have to build tolerance for failures. Innovation is not a process workflow in which success is predicted 100%. There will be failure and it will have to happen. Even Edison failed many times and said – I learnt another way that a particular thing will not happen.

Today’s leaders will have to deal and thrive with Dilemmas. Will have to be careful with judging too soon or deciding too late. They will have to be sense makers of the future by removing the noise of present and what they have experienced in the past and help guide the teams.

Q-What are some of the challenges posed by a new world of work?

We have experienced the shift from Centralized to Distributed way of working.

Distributed means dispersed over time and space. The businesses operate in different parts of the globe in physical space and at different times.

In the future this will become a very critical competency for Leaders to learn to engage with people who are geographically and organizationally distributed; medium of meetings may change from in-person to virtual to holographic – Being There when You are Not There

The concept of Meeting will change in future. The in-person meeting will have to be redefined basis different contexts. The different context would be –

  • Same Place – Same Time
  • Same Place – Different Time
  • Different Place – Same Time
  • Different Place – Different Time
  • Any Place – Any Time

Leadership presence will be exhibited by wide mix of media and in-person meetings in varied combinations. Cultures will have to be created which will be amplified through the usage of mix media reality that is emerging and will emerge further over the next few years.

In-person will still be critical for Orientation and Trust Building.

Leaders will have to evolve personal communication strategy and style to match the different options of distance/space and time. With this, they will have to have a skill development plan. The Human Resource division will have to understand this and build in the leadership development plan accordingly. *Bob Johansen

Q-How can HR leaders accelerate their careers with a view on the best in class learning opportunities, peer support, and mentorship?

As we progress, our ways of learning, as well as methodology, have changed to Learn – Perform – Transform – Repeat. A person first Learns, then Performs by applying the learnings which then helps the organization and the people to Transform. This is a cyclical process.

Learning itself has many facets. The 70 – 20 – 10 principles of Experience, Exposure, and Education is transforming to the 4E (Education, Exposure, Experience, and Environment, as per Deloitte).

The Environment element is extremely critical for an organization and people growth. The leaders have to create an environment of learning. They have to exhibit evidence of how they are learning and also supporting the learning of their teams.

A large portion of the learning will happen if the environment is conducive for learning, else there will be a lot of wastage of resources, time, and money.

Every individual is unique, which means their development opportunities are different. The focus has to be on individual learning versus mass learning. Driving a program for mass awareness is fine, but development has to be at an individual level.

People carry a lot of wisdom and knowledge within themselves. This is called Tacit knowledge. An ecosystem will have to be created in an organization where everyone learns from everyone else. This is further enabled through proper process of Mentoring, Coaching, and Buddy Learning.

In addition to the Senior Leaders and High Potential employees, the rest of the Functional managers in the organization as well new & old People Managers need to be provided individual learning support. They are usually provided only with certain basic trainings to run the day-to-day business, however, if they are provided better learning opportunities it can improve the productivity of the organization by 20% at least.

The Organizational Learning Strategy needs to be focused on democratizing Coaching and Mentoring for all employees across the organizational work levels.

Q-How can we design a learning roadmap aligned with the new world of work?

The recent pandemic has definitely taught us what VUCA means – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous. But many of us also learnt that it stands for Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility.

VUCA has never been so Global, Interconnected, and Scalable which has forced the Leaders to learn & develop New Leadership Literacies*.

Leaders have to provide the Vision / Ambition / Purpose of the Organization to which people should be able to relate and connect. They have to develop the competency to understand the future by removing the noise of present and what they have experienced in the past. They will have to have the Clarity of where we are going and be flexible about how we are going or will get there through Agility.

Development of these competencies will require Collaboration, Autonomy, Transparency, Diversity, Entrepreneurial and Non-Hierarchical mindset.

Many leaders are fearful of the future and how it will get managed. The pace at which the change is happening requires a totally different set of abilities. The good news is that it can be developed. Engaging voluntarily with their fears through Simulations can help Leaders prepare to be ready for the real world. Engagement in a fearless & harmless environment of simulations helps them to build the above competencies and mindset and see the real-time impact.

A robust learning roadmap built in the direction which is aligned to the new leadership literacies to be better prepared for the disruptions caused by Innovation, Globalization, and Digitalization will help the Leaders and Organizations. *Bob Johansen

Q-Any concluding remarks?

Great Leaders take advantage of every moment and every opportunity to give happiness & learning to others through kindness in their thoughts: such leaders are willing to overlook weaknesses & mistakes and have the desire to help everyone to reach their potential and become a Game Changer!

Thank you, Avishkar!


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