“You can take my factories, burn up my buildings, but give me my people and I’ll build the business right back again.”
Have you heard of Minal Dakhave Bhosale? She is a virologist in a little known Lab called Mylabs in Pune.
This new decade of 20s is likely to witness a significant intersection between three critical topics discussed in the 21st century: 1) digital, 2) human capital and 3) leadership.
Employees, managers and leaders across the world will seek answers to questions such as: How do we transform traditional organizations in the face of the digital onslaught? How will we sustain agility in organizations to deal with digital demands? How do we build cross-border capabilities in an increasingly narrowing world order? What new skills and cognitive versatility will leaders need to cope with the new realities unleashed due to the digital revolution? How can we build inclusive work places and handle biases-will AI /ML help? How do we understand human needs beyond the current confines of money and material comfort?
Boards have been making the headlines throughout last year – all for the wrong reasons. There have been board level failures across India’s leading banks, financial institutions, conglomerates and IT behemoths. These were not just financial missteps or frauds. Often, analysts trace them to governance failures in check and balances, independence of directors, or lack of oversight on strategy. We have ignored for far too long, boards’ inadequate attention to human capital, a vital factor that drives innovation and growth.
“Time present and time past/ Are both perhaps present in time future/ And time future contained in time past”, TS Eliot, Four Quartets, (1941). A change in the calendar year gives us a high. We look forward to another new year. Resolutions are made. Hope is re-ignited. Many of us gather optimism like tsunami victims collect falling rations from runaway helicopters. Part greedy, part needy – we reach for the new year. The more enthusiastic among us prepare a whole new to-do list. – we promise to ourselves with the certainty of an alcoholic. Look back, this drama has been enacted for many years now. The only way to stop this endless drama is to see the new year in a new light.
A more inclusive approach to talent, greater willingness to bet on nascent talent and tapping uncommon talent pools can significantly mitigate the talent shortages.Looking at the ironic situation of India Inc’s inability to find enough talent, one is tempted to rephrase the famous lines of the 19th century English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and say: “People, people, everywhere, nor anyone to hire”. Depending on whom you ask, India could be adding anywhere between five and seven million people every year into the workforce. Yet, employers all over India say they are facing acute talent shortages.
The current leadership crisis in Yes Bank highlights a weak spot in governance and institution building in our corporations. The stock market response to the Reserve Bank of India order is a reflection of the bank’s dependence on one individual at the helm. It also demonstrates the ineptitude of the board in preparing for leadership succession. Like Rana Kapoor, many successful leaders and their boards are responsible for the ruin of their own creations. Globally, many organisations face a crisis at the time of planning and executing leadership succession.
As a professional that helped Businesses and their leaders deal with people , I have had to change my name several times. I started with Labor Welfare Officer :some one responsible to ensure that water taps , toilets, rest rooms, and canteens worked well. Then I was called Personnel and Industrial Relations Manager. I helped formulate rules and manuals, maintained employee records etc. I also hobnobbed with Union leaders- some times to make them agree to what management wanted and often to keep them out of mischief. After some time ,I was rechristened again.
How many times have you heard well-known leaders say, “I don’t care who thinks what, I will get done whatever I think is right”? Ironically, over centuries, people have been conditioned to expect such authoritarianism. They admire macho leaders who intimidate and bully them.
Sometimes, the reaction of people towards workplace bullies reminds me of the “Stockholm Syndrome”. In much the same way that long-time hostages of a powerful abductor start admiring him and submit willingly, normal employees simply surrender to a powerful leader. Such coercive and authoritarian styles were fine until recently—for the leader had some prerogatives over how data, knowledge and opinions were accessed and disseminated.
Much like India needs “inclusive” growth, our companies too need to be inclusive when hiring. After all, organization are microcosms of society. Therefore building inclusive companies will not only supplement our national goal but also be an effective test of our capability to do so. However, inclusiveness is yet to be recognized as a serious agenda in Indian companies. Diversity programmes are often confused with inclusiveness and the discerning understand the two are not the same. We have many identity markers in our society: language, religion, caste, region, and therefore have an opportunity to bring in many more sections into the corporate mainstream beyond the traditional groups.
Chandrasekhar S (2018) “Three Dimensions of a Great Place to Work”, Asian Management Insights ,Vol 5 , SMU , Singapore Management University
Chandrasekhar S (2012), Skill Based Volunteerism: How can organizations leverage their employee skills for larger social good? NHRD Network Journal Vol 5, January’12. National HRD Network, Gurgaon
Chandrasekhar S (1996) “HRD; Is the spirit there?”, Selected Readings in HRD, Singh, Rao & Nair, pp 76-82, Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Company Ltd, New Delhi
Sunil Kandlilkar & Chandrasekhar S (1996), “Information Technology and HRM : Experiences of setting up a multi- media business with global partnership “, Aligning Human Resource Processes : Challenges of Development ,pp 392- 99 Sinha, Reddy, Chandrasekhar & Sarma , Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Company Ltd. New Delhi
Chandrasekhar S (1994) “Mindset Change for Corporate Turnaround: A new initiative in management development in Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd”. Management of Change in South Asia pp 407-14 (papers presented at the third academic conference of management development institutions in South Asia, The University Press limited, Dhaka
Editor/Co-editor Conference Papers/Journals
Chandrasekhar S (2011) “National HRD Network Journal” Gen Y and HR, Volume 4, Issue 4
Balaji, Chandrasekhar S & Dutta (1998) “Leading Change through Human Resources -towards a globally competitive India, (papers presented at the 6th national conference of the National HRD Network, Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Ltd, New Delhi
Sinha, Reddy, Chandrasekhar S & Sarma (1996) “Aligning Human Resource Processes: Challenges of Development”, Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Ltd. New Delhi
Chandrasekhar S (2014) “Invest in yourself; keep learning all through life “ Rules of the game, Dscover, learn, invent the art of speeding up your career , pp.201-05 ,Sumit D Chowdhury , Bloomsbury, India, New Delhi
Chandrasekhar S ( 2011) “Fostering Growth ,Change and Leadership ,Organization Development” , Pp 435-45 , Organization Development: accelerating learning and development , S Ramnarayan and TV Rao , SAGE Response ,New Delhi
Work in Progress
Chandrasekhar S (2019). “Does leadership develop when leaders develop? Evidence from a global pharmaceutical company” Target: Leadership Quarterly
Chandrasekhar S (2019). “Inclusive talent practices – Impact on firm capability building in growth markets” Target: Human Resource Management Review
Accepted Academic Conference Proceedings
Glory George, Chauradia AJ, and Chandrasekhar S (2018), “Confronting India’s Skill Development Paradox: Human Capital Challenges of Gender and Job Placement “, SMS Conference, Hyderabad, December ,2018