The Edge

Some people believe in luck. Others wear gemstones: GemPundit

Leadership is an ever-evolving paradigm that unfolds with the shifting landscape that one is operating in. Our world of business and commerce has been going through major shifts even before the pandemic. We often termed it as the VUCA world that was volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Of course, the pandemic has hastened and accelerated the ongoing transformation in several ways – which, in case of the automotive sector, is marked by automation, connectivity, electro-mobility, and alternate energy carriers. Clearly, the shift is heavily biased towards forging new partnerships, embracing digital transformation, ushering in a new culture of employee centricity, pro-actively driving the holistic sustainability agenda, and seeking new business & revenue opportunities.

Despite the chaotic pandemic condition, we are living in an era that promises unique game-changing opportunities, like never before, especially with a chance to “build India for a new world”.  As a nation, we are at the cusp of an unprecedented socio-economic transformation, on the back of massive technology changes, rapid digitalisation, favorable demographics, reasonably stable macro-economics, geopolitical shifts, and an aspirational young population, together with a host of other converging factors that promise to open-up never before opportunities for our emerging young leaders.

This pandemic has been like a pause, reset and a fast forward button, leaving behind three key takeaways:-

  1. Resilience, Mutual Trust, Patience & Perseverance matter most in such circumstances. Resilience is like a muscle that needs to be preserved
  2. We humans can Adapt & Transform overnight when pushed to the wall – we’ve just seen an unprecedented transformation to a digital & virtual world.
  3. We have been reminded of the value of empathy, equity, inclusion and co-existence in society.

Although the pandemic has irrevocably changed many things at macro, professional and personal levels, being an optimist I believe it has also brought some unintended opportunities and silver linings for us.

We need leaders who can grab these opportunities, not a classical C-suite occupier; but anyone who decides to step up and make a difference.

A look at the broader canvas of ‘shifts’ that are taking place will define what kind of leaders we need:

  1. At the Macro level, there is a huge focus and growing narrative on climate change, clean energy, social justice, equity, inclusive growth, healthcare and education for all – holistic sustainability is becoming a reality
  2. The dynamics of VUCA has accelerated by several years, due to pandemic
  3. Adoption of automation & digital technologies, use of data is the new normal – innovation is the new way of life.
  4. Disruption of existing products, concepts & business models, and the emergence of new and asset light business models, are leading to mushrooming of new sectors fast and quick
  5. Knowledge is increasingly available on Demand, but SKILL GAPS are concerning – Upskilling is the need of the hour
  6. Expectations of Speed and deadlines are increasing several folds
  7. Very few organisations are anonymous. Everyone is being judged as a Social Being. Organisations are becoming akin to human beings
  8. Connectivity & Automation is redefining our work environment
  9. Re-alignment of Global Value Chains opens up new opportunities.
  10. No single stakeholder can provide complete solutions into the future. Collaboration is the key as customer wants a 360 deg outcomes; and not the classical products or services.

Leadership today is not merely about Motivating & Inspiring people. It is also not merely about ‘CHANGE’. It is about ‘TRANSFORMATION’. It is about mindset and Cultural shift.  Leadership is about identifying, creating and leveraging ‘BOUNDLESS OPPORTUNITIES’.

Reflections from a broader canvas indicate the clear resultant imperatives for leaders:

  1. Establish a Higher Purpose
  2. Trust is the new currency and Passion is the fuel for Leadership
  3. Taking Responsibility for staying Optimistic
  4. Make a lot of small bets & Aim for Small Victories in tough times
  5. Shaping Culture & Aligning it with Strategy
  6. Getting inspired by the principle of “doing well by doing good”
  7. Demonstrate Courage of conviction to shape the future.
  8. Be good stewards by backing the goodness of your teams and compensate for team’s weak spots.
  9. Have a fierce sense of urgency, get rid of superficial distinctions, make everything better for everyone – coach & mentor, create opportunities for others.
Leadership at the highest levels is like a lighthouse – inspiring, galvanising and guiding teams towards a common purpose. It is about developing and empowering more leaders, based on Empathy, Care, Courage, Conviction and Optimism (ECCCO).


About the author

“Kamal Bali has been spearheading reputed Indian & multi-national organisations as President & CEO for two decades now. He is currently the President & Managing Director of Volvo Group, India. Respected for his values’ based leadership and strong ethos, he is also the recipient of prestigious awards for his outstanding contribution in the field of Manufacturing.”

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