Leading in an Age of Transformation

Leading in an Age of Transformation

Vishal Sharma, National Managing Director & President, Deloitte Consulting India Private Limited, 0

Vishal has 24 years of consulting experience across US and India and has led several enterprise-wide transformational programs for Deloitte clients. He has deep experience in delivering large engagements for Healthcare, Life Sciences and Technology clients using Global Delivery models. He was responsible for the strategic direction, operational execution, and overall leadership of the Technology practice across the spectrum of Digital, Analytics, ERP, Custom Application Development and Support. He did his MBA from IIM Calcutta and B.Tech from IIT Kanpur.

There is no doubt about it, this is the age of massive transformation. If you glance at the past five years,you’ll see that change is in the fast lane to redefine almost every interaction we have on a regular day. Whether it’s our social interactions, shopping experience, having a conversation,making an investment plan, learning,entertainment,etc., everything is being redefined, faster.

This new redefined world is continuing to be shaped by technology led disruption, geopolitical changes, the pandemic and the plethora of changes it brought with it, and a heighten awareness of what it means to be human. While most of these transformations upped the convenience level,it has unveiled new challenges too. At an individual level, immigrants were faced by difficult questions about belonging and identity and many of us experienced loss like never before during the pandemic. At an institutional level, supply-chain disruptions posed newer challenges for every industry and governments were expected to make thoughtful policies at the speed of technology advancements. It’s not just one thing that is being redefined – we are in an ecosystem of transformation with one change triggering a matrix of changes.

And at the epicenter of shaping tomorrow is the workforce.In any organization, it’s the workforce that shapes the way the world moves forward. Leadership therefore is not just an isolated role but the most crucial one today.

How do you lead in an age of transformation? How do you lead when everything is changing and evolving rapidly? Here are some effective traits of a leader which I wanted to share based on my experience of working with clients and colleagues across the world. These, in my opinion have become even more critical in this age of rapid transformation.

1.Be an enterprise-level communicator: Enterprise-level communication is crucial for team and people working together across borders and large scales. An effective enterprise-level communicator connects with senior leaders and campus hires, conveying a clear and effective message. Everyone's understanding varies, but if they receive 70-80 percent of the intended message, they are considered effective. Whether delivering a critical business update, coaching a team, or motivating people across generations, it is essential to continuously improve your role as an enterprise-level communicator.

2.The secret to newer perspectives – listening: One of the most underrated yet, a highly effective skill – listening, is key to leadership. Most people listen to respond using insights from their own experience and knowledge. However, when you listen to understand, you will be enriched from the experience of what others know. A leader has the privilege of access to varied
talent and insight. However, active listening alone will ensure that you gain from this access and exposure to different perspectives.

3.Humility: Humility is one of the most effective traits in the leadership skills repository. Humble leaders tend to listen more effectively, and they are always willing to accept their mistakes because, more than anyone, they are cognizant of the fact that if they fail to take ownership of their mistakes, the cost of the consequences could be exorbitant. These leaders understand and acknowledge that they don’t know it all, nor do they presume they do. As a result, they are willing to harness every input they receive for their team’s benefit. Humble leaders have the natural tendency to get the best out of their team. Humility,in fact enhances your strengths as a leader and inspires trust and commitment among your team members. It becomes evident through the numerous decisions you make giving ample importance to empathy, concern, and genuine care.

Humble leaders have the natural tendency to get the best out of their team. Humility, in fact enhances your strengths as a leader and inspires trust and commitment among your team members.

4.External awareness: Another effective trait of a leader is the ability to observe external disruptions, infer from market trends and decipher its relevance for their own organization’s growth and solutions. Not everything that is trending beyond the walls of your organization will work for your products or vision. The question is not ‘Which trend to jump on the bandwagon for?’ but, which one has the potential to take you, your people, and your clients further forward.

Recently, the buzz has been around the advent of AI tools and the perceived threat to our jobs. Though it cannot be denied that there will be a few jobs and tasks that might be overtaken by machines, it unlocks newer opportunities for humans. Empathy, communications, teaming, curiosity, understanding expectations vividly and customizing accordingly are skills that machines may not be able to imitate as effectively as humans do. However, the human and tech integration has the potential to enhance the speed and ability of solving large complex problems. In fact, it can be implemented more efficiently in the case of several arenas such as climate crisis.

5.Invest in the development of your people: A smart leader always understands the importance of making the right investments. Investing in the growth and development of our own people is probably one of the best investments we could make for our own future. It not only creates space for further progress but also future-proofs your organization. It’s paramount to remember that a leader is only as strong as his/her team!

6.Hold the mic for someone: In today’s world of information overload and everyone gaining a platform to voice their opinion through social media etc, there is a possibility that we are only listening to those who can articulate well. A common mistake that most people make, leaders especially, is to equate good communication skills with strong competency in any field. But there are equally or more competent people out there who have not yet learnt to communicate well owing to circumstances beyond their control. If we don’t get to hear them, our organizations miss out on the wealth of their potential. It is our role as leaders to identify those who are unable to voice their opinion/solutions and help find their voice – give them space to say the right thing even if they say it differently than how you would have said it. Hold the mic for them. As you build the voice of such people, you need to also become a voice for them while they get better at communicating.