Article (November-2020)


Leaders confidence needs to be matched with alertness

Sameer Nagrajan

Designation : -   Senior HR Professional

Organization : -  Dubai, UAE


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What kind of specific traits and mindsets are required to lead businesses during the crisis?

SN Resilience. In these extraordinary, once in a lifetime situations, the first quality called for is resilience. Leaders should maintain peak levels of physical, mental and emotional fitness, recognising that there will be several demands made from various stakeholders on their time, energy and resources- and all of these will require time bound energetic, focused action.

The second major trait I would look for is imagination. The old methods may not apply or work. New solutions are called for and there are few, if any, reference points. To visualise these solutions requires imagination.

Next, courage. Merely visualising a potential solution is not enough. Leaders need to next mobilise resources and courage to implement these, knowing fully well that there is risk involved. Part of the courage includes responding to signal correctly when they are indicating that a course change is required, i.e. not being overinvested in the solution and being willing to try something different if that is what is required.

I would add humility and sensitivity to the list. These are essential traits to recognise that people are being impacted by what is happening around them and struggling to cope. Engaging with them as humans will create loyalty and commitment in their role as employees, and generate innovation and customer focus when one thinks of them as consumers and customers.

What resources and leadership differentiating actions fuel the change process in such abnormal environments?

SN Financial and material resources are in fact limited at a time like this, in most industries. Leaders will have to show extraordinary dedication, analytical skills and imagination combined with deep knowledge of the industry and organisation to conceptualise solutions and lead their organisations towards the same knowing fully well that in uncharted waters, any given solution may or may not work: certainty is difficult. Confidence needs to be matched with alertness in scanning the environment and making course corrections as may be required.

Post pandemic, how is the organization learning culture expected to evolve and how will it accelerate our way out of crisis?

SN In visualising a post-pandemic organisation we have to keep the following in mind:

  • Working from home will continue, in fact may ramp up given that organisations would have realised that productivity improves and costs lower (in terms of establishment) when a portion of the population is wfh.
  • This in turn will drive diversity deeper and wider.
  • There will be implications as people will need to find substitutes for social interaction and the soft knowledge available at a physical workplace.
  • New soft capabilities and skills e.g. resilience, flexibility, adaptability will be called for.

All these will themselves require a vast change in learning styles and abilities. Organisations will need to plan and cultivate for these. In addition, as consumer habits also change sharply and cement into the new normal, marketplace practices will also change sharply and will need to be trained for.

More than anything, living in an environment of uncertainty and constant watchfulness will make demands on the individual and corporates will play a leading role in enabling people to work through these.

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