We are living in unprecedented times, and no one has actually seen anything like this before, and everything else just pales in comparison. All logic, data, precedence is getting thrown out of the window. Not only has the world changed but so have the rules of doing business. Most certainly, the talent required to run business in these unprecedented times is very different now as the key business challenges have changed. Giving a cricketing analogy, just like you need a very different skillset and mindset to survive and thrive on spin-friendly tracks, likewise, it is an absolutely different ballgame to survive on green tops with swing and bounce under completely hostile conditions. It’s not easy to change one’s technique overnight, and it definitely requires some key characteristics to excel in diverse conditions.
Similarly, coming back to the corporate world, there needs to be a rethink, rewiring of talent, thought process and training to come out trumps and survive first in these challenging times, as well as succeed in the post lockdown order. And, we must understand that even after the situation becomes normal, the old way of doing business may not work and dealing with the new normal will be completely different.
Universally, one needs to focus on the DNA of the candidate even more as neither have we been trained to work in this dynamic environment nor can we bank on old track record as the current business dynamics are completely new. Therefore, we do need to validate personal traits and mindset of a candidate far more. In my professional opinion, the following traits become very important.
1. Ability to work in ambiguity – This trait will become more and more pronounced. The business environment continues to become more challenging, and it is very important for the leaders to be able to work under ambiguity, with little or no precedent and be able to take decisions. While Indian organizations are generally better than Multinationals on this aspect, but we need to watch out for this trait more than ever in the leaders of tomorrow.
2. Quick decision making – Again, ability to make quick decisions, with little data, backing your gut, going by logic more, and not sitting and be found napping later would be the key in this new world order.
3. Out of box thinking – I think ability to come up with new ideas, out of the box thinking, spotting opportunities before anyone else does, will be of paramount importance. Need for creativity and innovation is always appreciated, and I feel it will be even more so in the times ahead.
4. Bottom line orientation as cash will be the king – Managing cash flows will be important, not only today but even more so tomorrow. We are already seeing companies with cash balances in the books sitting relatively better than the others. I think the need for a prudent leader, who is very strongly bottom line oriented, and does away with all profligate spending, someone who knows how to run a tight ship always, will be weighed in gold.
5. Calm demeanor – There will be more shocks and surprises as we go along so ability to stay calm and not panic is important. It is important for the leader to be calm under all circumstances with a balanced head, as people and colleagues will look upto the person to guide them.
6. Authenticity – I feel what will also test the mettle of leaders and companies more than ever will be authentic leadership. It will be important for the leaders to be authentic in their conduct, be open and transparent with the organization in terms of communication.
7. Execution Ability – Leaders will also be known for their relentless execution, staying the course and being constantly at it. I think the stamina, the stomach for a fight will be tested for the leaders of tomorrow and one has to be up for it more than ever.
(Agamjeet Dang- Managing Partner from Financial Services at Executive Access)