leading today…..

Wow! what an enriching discussion I had over the last weekend at Pankaj’s house with a bunch of highly animated friends. All immensely successful in their own ways. And the topic, it turned out, seemed very close to their hearts – what does it take to lead in today’s hugely complex, interconnected world.
The world around us has become less predictable and much more uncertain. Information required to make critical decisions is sketchy at best and non-existent at most times. Almost 60-70% of decision making happens in the grey zone. So what determines a good outcome now is the speed of execution – at least you have the possibility of altering the course quickly if things do not turn out as expected.
In such a situation, a few vital qualities expected of CEO’s are :
– decisiveness – uncertainity and lack of information can never be a defence for inaction after all
– holding people accountable – clarity of expectations and measurement of performance against those is a good insurance policy for any organisation
– realistic optimism – instill self belief and a spirit of can-do, often the intangible magic differentiator between an average performance and a successful one. You cannot be successful and not be an optimist!
While that was already too much for the day, Arun quietly diverted the debate towards behaviours or practices that should be avoided – almost like he had an agenda! Now that is a huge topic and always generates a lot of passion and heat. We spoke of many and a few seem more important than others :
– having a low standard of oneself and one’s direct reports – a sure shot recipe for mediocrity!
– tolerating infighting and silo based thinking – after all do you play your best eleven or your eleven best, a star team or a team of stars
– excessive focus on consensus building – it is far more productive to have a 60% consensus with 100% commitment
– blindly trusting what is told by your direct reports – this is a contentious one as the environment can be vicious in the absence of trust. Hence trust you must but verify as well and don’t be closed to inputs from other sources
– overdose of micro management – in the all pervasive transience we live in, necessary to differentiate between micro sense versus micro management
Lunch over and it slipped into chai time – we could have gone on forever. The evening theatre show beckoned and we had to wind up. Perhaps only to re-group at a later date!
Have a great 2012!