Are today’s leaders shattering glass walls around them?

Companies have kept pace with technological advancement and the changes triggered by them.

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The scope of investigation on this subject takes us back to business practices that started with the Industrial Revolution — which gave birth to division of work and grouping of activities based on specialisation. Leadership was hierarchical, and the focus was on production. The scenario stayed the same for almost a century, and thereafter, the only thing that has remained constant in business is CHANGE.

Technology has instigated this change, but companies have kept pace with it and now it is hard to say who is driving whom. The last decade has witnessed transformations unimaginable in the running of a business due to remote working, cloud computing, connectivity, customer database and analysis, and social networking. These new features have reconstructed functions, processes, products and services of a company.

Pradeep Mukherjee

“Russi Mody is one such example and there are many more.”

 

 

In India, there is a massive influx of new companies, which are ditching departmentalisation of functions and hierarchical chain of command and shaping their organisation in what may be called the modern way.

How are Indian bosses changing?

Raj Raghavan, senior VP & head-HR, IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation) says, “At Indigo, we believe in keeping the end-customer happy. Here, the senior leaders continuously interact with employees handling customers. In case of any issue, they can raise it at the board meeting. Many a time, there is direct interaction of the top management with the customers too. Our senior VP of flight operations is also a pilot for our flights. This dual role of a leader and an operator gives him a holistic perspective and is very beneficial to us in decision making and problem solving.”

This takes us close to the premise that the top management is changing.

Independent consultant and executive coach, Pradeep Mukherjee pointed that India has had visionary business leaders in the past too. “Russi Mody is one such example and there are many more,” he says. Likewise, it is known that Pepsico’s CEO – D Shivakumar would regularly interact with various points of sales to assess customers’ wants. This certainly helps the CEOs to deal with the complexities arising due to the rapidly changing environment. When a CEO interacts with operation-level employees or customers it also leaves a profound message for the entire workforce.

Raj Raghvan

“At Indigo, we believe in keeping the end-customer happy. Here, the senior leaders continuously interact with employees handling customers. In case of any issue, they can raise it at the board meeting. Many a time, there is direct interaction of the top management with the customers too. Our senior VP of flight operations is also a pilot for our flights. This dual role of a leader and an operator gives him a holistic perspective and is very beneficial to us in decision making and problem solving.”

‘Technology is a wave— you either ride it or get wiped out’

Is technology the compelling factor behind this trend or is it the entry of Generation Z in the workforce? Some companies have seen failure due to old management systems. They have not been able to cope with changes, thus hampering development.

One size does not fit all. There are companies in India that have not had to make radical changes in processes and execution. Their rock- solid foundation makes them resilient to changing times. Their mammoth size, structuring and leadership assimilate changes with ease.

Emmanuel David

“When senior leadership interacts with baseline employees, they keep managers in the loop. Similarly, when a junior executive talks to heads of departments, the managers are kept in the loop. If a very sensitive or significant project delivery is to take place then the CEO is seen ditching the line of command and being directly and actively involved in the process.” 

Emmanuel David, director, Tata management training service says, “When senior leadership interacts with baseline employees, they keep managers in the loop. Similarly, when a junior executive talks to heads of departments, the managers are kept in the loop. Sometimes a critical situation may be the reason for the CEO to talk directly with employees at different levels. If a very sensitive or significant project delivery is to take place then the CEO is seen ditching the line of command and being directly and actively involved in the process.”

The discussion on this topic can go on forever, but in conclusion, we agree that new methods and management systems are demanded due to the growing complexity of the business environment. Today’s workforce desires to be led by individuals who are open to new ideas, innovation and change.

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