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As the world goes through its tumultuous cycles, startups are no longer all successful; the older multi generational ones are not invincible anymore. It is now even more about the
3Ts: Talent, Tenacity and Trust
Every organisation needs to take a brutally honest view of its talent bench. Does it have the breadth and the depth it needs for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow? This is where most leadership teams fail. The misplaced belief, that what worked thus far will remain the secret algorithm, is suicidal.
More than ignorance, it is often arrogance that fails leadership. Leaders low on talent mindset are conservative in defining their emergent talent needs and lazy to even secure it. They often hire and promote followers, not challengers. Short on their own brand pull, they don’t hire people better than themselves -in pedigree, experience or potential. Even if they deliver the demands of today , such leaders then must become the first warning signs for firms to address.
It is not just about hiring a fresh crop or weeding. Every talent, who secures the future, needs to be tended to. Annual increments and bonuses are no longer enough. Time to have meaningful conversations, understand their teams beyond tasks, emotionally blend with skip levels and in the process move from being a boss to a coach is what keeps great talent. Leaders cannot be so busy that these remain a low-order check box item.The risk to the enterprise can be deadly! Talent must be spotted early . The best must be allowed to progress much faster, in a variety of roles and with different leaders. They must be put in the most value-impacting roles. They must be given visibility to the senior leadership. Talent has a capitalistic bias; socialism can destroy it.
Building teams and corporations today is even more a call for tenacity . Not every business model will click; not every top talent will deliver always. Not every growing firm will stay clear of its share of swamps and deserts. One of the big virtues of leadership in the VUCA [volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations].
It finally comes down to the culture that one creates for the institution. Contrary to myths, culture is not a static set of moral science principles. Culture flows from business imperatives and supports the organisation’s business landscape. Culture seems a soft fuzzy thing that can always be done by HR later. This is the mistake of most left-brained leadership teams. Just because it is difficult to quantify, they make the mistake of leaving it diffused.Hence, a small hiccup can bring the firm crashing badly .
Defining a firm’s belief system, ensuring all organisational sub-systems are aligned to ensure every stakeholder understands and behaves consistently is key to building organisational tenacity . The exercise is one of making choices. This must be done with due deliberation but reinforced substantively . Companies often drift along, and each person then interprets and resolves to behave as one chooses. This may be in good faith but it creates fissiparous tendencies within the system, sharpening fault lines and impacting organisational tenacity .
At the same time, it is important to step back and reflect whether an espoused culture and belief system has outlived its relevance. Even if it seems heretic, organisations must never atrophy to become a prisoner of its past when the future is so different. Cultures must get revisited, refined and, if needed, repudiated. The old order must give way to the new, irrespective of political sensitivities and emotional outpourings. This itself then becomes a strong cultural pillar of a corporation. It builds, protects and sustains, beyond personalities and business cycles.
Every business or institution survives and thrives when it secures and retains the trust of its various stakeholders. Does it deliver its promise as perceived by the different constituencies? Does it evolve its value proposition over time? Does it read changes in the environment to still deliver an experience of trust and goodwill?
Some corporations have invested in years of delivering a promise that makes them more trustworthy.Others may have been successful but still struggle to be trusted. In many ways, trust is a bigger sustainable success than profits. How do leadership teams ensure their firms do the right thing to enhance their Trust Quotient?
One of the principle jobs of leadership is to ensure trust in their outfits. They must communicate proactively to the various stakeholder groups. They must respond to questions, honestly allay misgivings and humbly admit errors of judgment. No one expects a leader to always have all the answers. Unfortunately , positional leaders struggle to express their vulnerability. To seek help and not seem all-knowing are commonplace leadership traps. This is a recipe for trust disruption one day .
Whether it is with internal teams or with external groups, great leaders of today ensure their circle of influence is strong and credible. In the world of social media, they have reinvented themselves to connect, communicate and clarify . There can be no power distance from anyone today . It is about influence, not command. It is about relevance, not experience. Those who understand this and work at it are better placed to create relationships of trust, not handcuffs of business might or hierarchical prowess.
The world seems more complex today . But the leadership mantras for survival and success do not need complex algorithms or obtuse models. Get your 3 Ts -Talent, Tenacity and Trust -right first. The tumult will pass and you will be stronger the morning after the storm.