The programmes are specifically to help leaders understand the various inflection points in their careers and the steps to be taken to successfully tide over them.
We know that life changes significantly for children at every stage of growth. Therefore, it’s important to guide and help them cope with the changes, as they gradually develop into adults.
Employees too go through similar changes as they move up the corporate ladder or take on larger responsibilities. In fact, for all businesses, leadership development is always on the wish list and the aim remains to master this programme. However, in reality, most businesses stumble and falter when it comes to leadership development.
Management guru, Ram Charan, in his book Leadership Pipeline, had highlighted this more than 15 years ago. Yet, not many organisations focus specifically on equipping their leaders to face the significant turns in their careers, as they were.
“While each career inflection point may seem to be a logical extension of the previous role, there are subtle nuances which, if ignored, can become a de-railer for the individual at a later stage in the career, and seriously jeopardise the leadership pipeline for the organisation,” says Kinjal Choudhary, group CHRO, Volvo Eicher.
Volvo Eicher, for instance, has a well-defined leadership development programme in place, which has four broad structures.
Choudhary says, “We at Volvo-Eicher believe that in order to ensure profitable growth in a sustained manner, we need specific focus on enabling the leaders of tomorrow with the challenges that they are likely to face, as they assume greater responsibilities in their careers.”
With this objective, through its Leadership Academy, Volvo–Eicher has designed programmes specifically to help leaders understand the various inflection points in their careers and the steps that need to be taken to successfully tide over these.
Volvo–Eicher’s Leadership Academy prepares individuals for the following programmes:
Emerging Leaders’ Programme
This is aimed at individual contributors, who have just taken on the responsibility of leading teams. This is the first inflection point for individual employees when they have to manage teams instead of being individual contributors. The principles of leadership become applicable here for the first time in the career of an individual. And, at this stage, it is critical for the employee to understand that being an outstanding individual contributor is quite different from being a successful manager.
Manager’s Manager Programme
This is focussed on developing those managers who have turned the next inflection point in their careers, where they now lead people who themselves are managers. This is a critical juncture, and many overlook the difference between being a manager and a manager of other managers, who themselves are leading teams. The fundamental requirement at this level is to coach managers (many of whom may be first-time managers) to effectively transition from individual contributors to managing others.
Leader of Managers’ Programme
This addresses the changes that employees experiences at the third inflection point in their career. These are people who have reached the mid- level positions in the organisation and are now leading large teams, which could be a large geographic span (eg. zone) or a sub-function. At this level, they suddenly become visible as leaders to a large base of employees and are considered the torch-bearers of the organisation’s culture as it were. Their behaviour is emulated by a large number of employees and how they conduct themselves can set the tone for the organisation as a whole.
Leading the Leaders Programme
This is aimed at addressing the penultimate career inflection point for several employees. This is the position, where an employee leads a Vertical or a Region and has significant decision-making authority. At this juncture, the individual makes a tangible and visible difference to the organisation’s performance and typically has disproportionate influence on its culture. What the employees review, what they reward, where they reprimand, so on and so forth, actually have disproportionate influence on the course the culture in the organisation takes. This is also the point at which individual de-railers can make or break the final career transition for the employees.
There are certain competencies, which are common across all the leadership programmes, though the intensity of the curriculum differs, depending on the level. The Volvo–Eicher Leadership Academy emphasises on self-awareness to begin with. That is the starting point for any successful manager or leader.
Another common factor across all the programmes is extensive focus on collaboration, or working with others. The single biggest differentiator across various career transitions is the degree and complexity of collaboration required at every career inflection point.
In addition, all these programmes focus on execution. Many senior leaders fail to make the transition at several inflection points because they are unable to differentiate between focus on execution and effective delegation. Either they tend to micromanage or they delegate in a manner, which makes execution suffer.
“At Volvo–Eicher, our endeavour is to build talent from within, instead of focussing on buying talent from the market, especially at senior levels. This is because, the ability to amalgamate with the culture of the organisation and deliver effectively is far superior when the talent is developed from within,” says Choudhary.