New Year Special: How should a leader strategise in 2016?


An analysis, on upcoming challenges in ‘Strategic People Management’ which people leaders will have to gear for this year.

When the volatile stimulations in the market defy and challenge the existing paradigm, it triggers a series of confusing thoughts and hampers a leader from determining his appropriate responses and planning his future strategy. Unless leaders put their versatile experiences through filters of analysis and link it to the macro economic and social changes, they would not be able to update the genetic imprint of their enterprises and help it to design a strategy to survive in competitive markets whilst maintaining its genetical uniqueness.

Here is an analysis, which throws up the following themes as upcoming challenges in ‘Strategic People Management’ which people leaders will have to gear for:

Frequently re-audit the genetic architecture of their enterprise that supports business transformation 
When the markets were moving slowly and rather predictably, management had to re-audit its architecture after a reasonably long period. With the fast pace and sheer volatility of changes today, businesses will have to continuously plan and prepare for ongoing transformation. This is unlike in earlier periods of time when transformation was a ‘long-draw’ agenda. Leaders will have to build their enterprise capability to frequently and quickly: ‘Reframe – Restructure – Revitalise – Renew’ as its transformation agenda. Most leaders will be busy in the next few years on management of this team.

Build leadership competencies to cope with business vulnerabilities
The hyper-dynamism in the market leads to businesses becoming vulnerable. Leadership capabilities will have to be built which will enable the enterprise to be flexible and quickly modify behaviours. Leaders will have to quickly modify their own behaviours from being tenacious to being malleable to being fully agile. Developing these capabilities in their leaders will be a challenge for the enterprise and its people managers.

Align the enterprise with its people management processes for the digital revolution
Enterprises will no longer be able to connect and engage with its talent segments if all its People Management sub-systems are not fully aligned to its Business Management subsystems. Whilst creating Digital readiness, ‘Evidence Based HR’ will be an upcoming challenge that leaders will have to gear for. Markets have attractive ERP tools; the correct selection and adaptation to suit the business challenges and the enterprise culture is what will give Leadership sleepless nights. This will include social media strategy for effective talent management and employer branding initiatives in the ‘E’ dominated markets. (‘E’ stands for ‘Employees’ as well as its ‘Electronic’ country cousin!!)

‘Big Data Analysis’ will facilitate predictive analytics for talent management
Multitude of employee data points when analysed systematically would provide new insights to managements on attitudes and behaviours of their talent, under different conditions. Analysis of this data should be able to predict many critical business decisions within the people management domains. Whilst listening to your gut will continue to be important, one cannot afford to be unmindful of the story that analytical data would throw up. The purpose of all analytics is to be able to successfully predict talent challenges and behaviours in different domains for the future needs of the enterprise.

‘Inclusivity’ will drive the Diversity Agenda
Polarisation and bias on any element will be socially and legally shunned; building values for inclusivity within the framework of the enterprise culture will continue to be a challenge and leaders will have to work all- out, to succeed in this domain. Inclusivity will not have only Social Responsibility and democratisation dimensions to it but actually contribute to enhancing value creation journey for the enterprise.’Diverse and robust contributions through diverse talent will be the upcoming agenda for leadership.’

Participative programs for talent reach-out leading to ‘Employee Engagement’
In the upcoming challenge, engagement will have to shift from ‘survey’ focus to ‘participative reach-out’ focus. ‘Circular Leadership’ (where teams will lead and seek leadership guidance ‘on call’ basis) will take over and occupy agenda space from the classical ‘Rotating Leadership’.

Adil Malia

Value-based People governance
‘Value-based People Governance’ which embodies principles of Authenticity, Accountability, Fairness and Inclusivity will find its logical place much more meaningfully in all management systems, processes, policies and programs. This shall continue to be on People Leaders’ agenda in the coming times.

Continue to build a flexible learning organisation with open learning agenda
This shall continue to be forever the pursuit of not only people leaders but also all business leaders. New learnings, new knowledge and new technology will keep challenging organisations knowledge systems and will forever be in conflict with the prevailing organisational memory. Leaders will have to continuously work on upgrading the learnings of the organisation and its people if it wishes to survive, thrive and retain its unique identity in changing times.

While all the above upcoming trends are critical, it is speed and ‘bias for action’ that shall differentiate the leaders who will win from the ‘also-rans’ leader in the hyper-competitive, complex markets. As someone rightly said: “On the sands of hesitation lay the bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory sat down to wait and waiting, died!”

(The author is group president – HR, Essar group.)


  1. Highly Thought provoking , Innovative and very Useful Musings .Thank you Mr A.M.

    Even, if,there is 20% success , in practicing ‘VALUE BASED PEOPLE GOVERNANCE’,Corporates will surely achieve 100%success in all other Scores,such as ‘BUILD LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES ETC.

Comment on the Article

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

2 × 3 =