In 2020, a book called ‘Leadership is a Language’ was released, which emphasised on how interplay of words and language played a big role in leadership. The book suggested that leaders detach themselves from notions, such as invulnerability, certainty, coercion and conformity. It advised them to think about the words that they choose to use and apply — whether a person is interacting digitally, through handwritten notes, or through verbal conversations.
Inspired by this school of thought, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals has recently launched an initiative called ‘Leadership Language’. Here, the Company is focussing on training managers and leaders on the kind of language they should promote or discourage at the workplace, while interacting with their subordinates or reportees, reveals Satyajit Mohanty, CHRO, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals talking to HRKatha.
A lot of research went into this project before it was launched. As Mohanty shares, first the Company analysed its employee-engagement survey to identify the most engaged teams in the organisation. Then, it started figuring out the kind of language being used by these teams and their managers, which ultimately leads to better motivation and performance. Basis that, the programme has been designed to promote the words and language that motivate and encourage, and instil trust and push people to perform better. The Company gathered insights through frequent interactions with all the frontline teams, using chatbot technology, which helps collect feedback through nudges and small focussed group chats every week.
“People more often fail to understand the importance of language. This generally happens when we fail to hear ourselves while talking”
Satyajit Mohanty, CHRO, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals
As of now, the Company has started training its top leadership on ways to maintain composure during stressful situations and keep calm when the teams are not performing at the optimum level. It is also training them on the language to use and attitude to portray during demanding and difficult times.
Mohanty reveals, that it is not just the leadership teams and managers who will be trained in using language as a skill. The Company has designed modules for employees, based on their perspectives, to understand and harness the power of language. Mohanty shares with HRKatha, “As employees, we often fail to look beyond the words of our managers or understand their intentions,” tending to overlook the true intents of the managers, and therefore, get more impacted by the words they use. Modules have been created for employees to understand the subtle signs of their managers. The Company is following a ‘bottom to top’ as well as a ‘top to bottom’ approach to help the employees understand the power of words and language.
Through internal research, the Company has identified the kind of language it will promote and the kind it will choose to avoid at the workplace. In one of the focussed group sessions, it was realised the language and words used by a highly-engaged team is different as compared to other teams. It was noticed that the leader was very empathetic in trying to understand the situation and encouraged the team to work together and solve problems instead of criticising the team members for not meeting targets.
It is important to never neglect the efforts of a person. An employee may have failed to deliver as per expectations, but he surely must have put in a lot of effort to try and achieve the target. At that moment, words such as, ‘You have not done anything’ will demotivate that person. There are many similar instances which the company has identified and uses to train the employees to speak the right language.
As a testimony, employees who are undergoing these learning interventions, are also posting their experiences through videos extolling the power of language. The Company has also released guidelines on professional etiquettes. For instance, during the pandemic, when many employees were working remotely, people often failed to respect other’s time and called them at odd hours for work. These guidelines aim to teach employees to be considerate towards others’ time and space.
According to Mohanty, Crompton is going through a major transformation, with many processes being changed or overhauled. For instance, the manner in which the sales team functions and works is changing. And when a company is going through such a transformation, internal tension tends to build up. This has prompted the firm to use the power of language to transform the culture of the company to sustain in a stressful and highly-volatile environment. Since many people are mostly working remotely, language and words have become more important than before. “In these tough times, such as the pandemic, language is the only visible and critical aspect when people are not really interacting face-to-face,” points out Mohanty.
The Leadership Language initiative has been well received and supported not just by the CXOs but also the board members. Everyone realises the power of language and how the use of the right words at the right time can create a huge impact on teams. Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals has some of the greatest minds from the Indian corporate world as board members, such as Shantanu Khosla, MD, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals; Mathew Job, CEO, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals; PM Murthy, former CEO, Asian Paints and many more who, as leaders, understand the power of language in building high-performing teams.
“People more often fail to understand the importance of language. This generally happens when we fail to hear ourselves while talking,” says Mohanty.
The Leadership Language initiative is well underway at Crompton, but it is a long battle of change which has just begun. “We hope to find some meaningful results through this big shift,” says Mohanty.