Transformative Leadership in the Age of AI and Constant Change

Transformative Leadership in the Age of AI and Constant Change

Sankalp Potbhare, MD & CEO - Asia Pacific & Japan, Versuni (formerly Philips Domestic Appliances), 0

Sankalp Potbhare boasts over two decades of leadership in major consumer packaged goods (CPG) firms like PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser, Kraft, Heinz, and Kimberly Clark. Currently leading Versuni's (formerly Philips Domestic Appliances) operations in the Asia Pacific market, and Sankalp manages a multimillion- dollar portfolio. With extensive experience in diverse markets like China, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Korea, he adeptly navigates challenges and seizes opportunities. His typical day involves prioritizing tasks, morning meetings to address team challenges, and collaborating to provide solutions and strategic guidance.

If we see Sankalp's leadership style, he prioritizes proactive problem-solving and develops a collaborative environment to achieve organizational goals.

Staying Abreast of Changing Market Dynamics
Sankalp views people management as vital in navigating today's dynamic landscape by providing clarity and purpose to the team. He values empowering individuals to embrace and navigate change effectively. Key methods for effective people management include articulating clear objectives to guide the team through ambiguity, ensuring everyone understands their role in achieving organizational goals. Furthermore, consistent communication can help in reinforcing priorities and expectations; thereby enabling effective task prioritization. Additionally, tailored support addresses diverse team needs which will progress towards shared goals.

And to top it off, Sankalp says that achieving results while demonstrating empathy is crucial. He stresses understanding and addressing individual needs to cultivate a supportive work environment. In his experience spanning various geographies, Sankalp has identified the following primary challenges that organizations encounter when crafting effective people management strategies:

One common challenge is maintaining consistency in communication and expectations. Teams often struggle when messages are unclear or continuously shifting. He emphasizes the importance of providing a clear and consistent message to keep teams focused and aligned with organizational objectives. Furthermore, another critical challenge can arise due to the alignment of organizational goals with individual goals. Here, there is a development of conflicting priorities which can lead to confusion and frustration among team members. Hence, Sankalp advocates on enabling collaboration by clearly articulating the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of tasks. This will ensure that individuals understand their role in contributing to the broader organizational objectives.

Care and Empathy
“The significance of listening, empathy, and genuine care is a must for effective people management. Leaders must ensure that their messages are comprehended and resonate with team members. This can only happen when leaders understand the pulse from the ground. This will ultimately lead to a more supportive and productive work environment,” Sankalp highlights.

Reaping Benefits through the Integration of Disruptive Technologies
As the market evolves, it becomes more cumbersome for businesses to stay healthy. As we are slowly entering the
world dominated by AI technologies, integration of this futuristic technology can bring significant changes when it comes to enhancing talent for effective management. Despite varied perspectives on AI's impact, be it positive or negative, today’s management teams must recognize this disruptive technology’s potential to revolutionize talent development within organizations.

Furthermore, AI offers personalized/ tailored learning and development plans by analyzing single individual or team-specific needs. This is far better than the obsolete practices that were being carried out previously. So to understand, management can ensure training programs align closely with employees' unique requirements by leveraging AI algorithms. AI facilitates standardized customer interactions across diverse teams. AI-driven solutions provide uniform communication frameworks, enhancing customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Consistency in providing clarity enables teams to manage obstacles adeptly. Simplifying complex issues and articulating expectations clearly and with empathy fosters understanding among team members.

In functional domains like supply chain management, AI-driven predictive analytics refine forecasting processes which optimize inventory management and manufacturing operations. This not only enhances operational agility but also drives cost savings and organizational resilience. If we delve more deeply and look at an ever-changing work environment, organizations today face the challenge of navigating changing market dynamics. The evolution of work practices has been ongoing for decades and will continue to change as per the advancements in technologies and societal shifts.

Prioritizing Key Practices for Success
Leaders should adopt a mindset of 'welcoming change' for swift adaptation. Amid the pandemic, organizations transitioning rapidly to remote work exemplified this mindset and benefited as a result of the swift change. Open communication from leadership fosters understanding and alignment, wherein, addressing challenges openly empowers employees to contribute ideas. Cultivating a safe workplace encourages employees to voice concerns without fear. Here, trust is vital for fostering collaboration and innovation.

Delegating authority and promoting collaboration enables teams to adapt quickly while focusing towards ownership which fosters accountability and autonomy. Another important parameter is continuous learning, promoting a culture of learning ensures adaptability and skill retention. Furthermore, access to training programs keeps employees ahead in a changing landscape. When traditional feedback methods prove ineffective, it's crucial to reassess and adjust strategies. Here, leaders must focus on creating avenues for actionable feedback while also actively listening to the recipient's perspective. Additionally, leaders should deliver feedback genuinely to maintain trust and efficacy.

“One of the critical aspects of effective leadership lies in providing clarity, particularly during a disruptive market or organizational situation. A leader's ability to offer clear direction will greatly impact how their team overcomes challenging hurdles. Furthermore, a positive work culture with transparency in every operation can greatly enable teams to manage obstacles in the most adept way possible. Another important parameter would be to simplify complex issues while articulating expectations clearly; thereby fostering the needed understanding among team members,” concludes Sankalp.