Leading In An Age Of Transformation


Vishal Sharma, National Managing Director & President, Deloitte Consulting IndiaThis is the age of massive transformation, with rapid changes redefining everyday interactions such as social interactions, shopping, conversation, travel, appointments, investment plans, learning, and entertainment. These changes are happening faster than ever before, impacting everything from health and education to education and entertainment.

This new redefined world is continuing to be shaped by technology led disruption, geopolitical changes, the pandemic and the plethora of changes it brought with it, and a heighted awareness of what it means to be human. While most of these transformations upped the convenience level, it has unveiled new challenges too. At an individual level, immigrants were faced by difficult questions about belonging and identity and many of us experienced loss like never before during the pandemic. At an institutional level, supply-chain disruptions posed newer challenges for every industry and governments were expected to make thoughtful policies at the speed of technology advancements. It’s not just one thing that is being redefined  we are in an ecosystem of transformation with one change triggering a matrix of changes.

And at the epicenter of shaping tomorrow is the work force.In any organization, it’s the workforce that shapes the way the world moves forward. Leadership therefore is not just an isolated role but the most crucial one today.

How do you lead in an age of transformation? How do you lead when everything is changing and evolving rapidly? Here are some effective traits of a leader which I wanted to share based on my experience of working with clients and colleagues across the world. These, in my opinion have become even more critical in this age of rapid transformation.

1. Be an enterprise-level communicator: Enterprise level communication is crucial for team and people working together across borders and large scales. An effective enterprise-level communicator connects with senior leaders and campus hires, conveying a clear and effective message. Everyone's understanding varies, but if they receive 70-80% of the intended message, they are considered effective. Whether delivering a critical business update, coaching a team, or motivating people across generations, it is essential to continuously improve your role as an enterprise-level communicator.

2. The secret to newer perspectives listening: Active listening is a crucial skill in leadership, allowing leaders to gain access to diverse talent and insights. While most people respond using their own experiences, active listening allows for a deeper understanding of others' perspectives. Leaders can gain valuable insights and experiences from this valuable skill.

3. Humility: Humbleness is a crucial trait for top[1]performing leaders, as it enhances their leadership skills. Humble leaders are more effective listeners and willing to accept mistakes, as they recognize the consequences of not taking ownership of their mistakes. They acknowledge their lack of knowledge and are willing to use every input for their team's benefit. Humble leaders tend to get the best out of their team, and it doesn't make them appear weak. Humble values inspire trust and commitment among team members, leading to more effective decisions that prioritize empathy, concern, and genuine care.

4. External awareness: Another effective trait of a leader is the ability to observe external disruptors, infer from market trends and decipher its relevance for their own organization’s growth and solutions. Not everything that is trending beyond the walls of your organization will work for your products or vision. The question is not ‘Which trend to jump on the bandwagon for?’ but, which one has the potential to take you, your people, and your clients further forward.

The rise of AI tools has raised concerns about job threats, but it also presents opportunities for humans to improve empathy, communication, teamwork, and understanding expectations. While machines may not imitate as effectively as humans, human-tech integration can enhance problem-solving speed and ability in complex problems. AI has the potential to simplify our lives across various industries, particularly in the context of climate crisis. Its efficiency can be particularly crucial in combating mindful and sustainable actions. While the process may be initially unsettling, it becomes more seamless as we become more invested in AI and its applications. As we invest time and interest in AI, it becomes increasingly relevant in addressing pressing issues like climate change.

5. Invest in the development of your people: A smart leader always understands the importance of making the right investments. Investing in the growth and development of our own people is probably one of the best investments we could make for our own future. It not only creates space for further progress but also future-proofs your organization. It’s paramount to remember that a leader is only as strong as his/her team!

6. Hold the mic for someone: In today's information overload world, individuals with exceptional communication skills and experiences may be the only ones listening to those who can articulate well. This is due to the rise of social media platforms and the need for individuals to voice their opinions. It is crucial to recognize and appreciate these unique traits to effectively engage with others and contribute to a more inclusive and effective society. Many people, especially leaders, mistakenly believe that good communication skills are synonymous with strong competency in any field. However, there are competent individuals who have not yet learned to communicate well due to circumstances beyond their control. Leaders must identify those who are unable to voice their opinions and help them find their voice. They should give them space to say the right thing, even if it differs from their original message. As they build their voice, leaders should also become a voice for them as they improve their communication skills.

Vishal Sharma, National Managing Director & President, Deloitte Consulting India

Vishal has 24 years of consulting experience across US and India and has led several enterprise-wide transformational programs for Deloitte clients. He has deep experience in delivering large engagements for Healthcare, Life Sciences and Technology clients using Global Delivery models. He was responsible for the strategic direction, operational execution, and overall leadership of the Technology practice across the spectrum of Digital, Analytics, ERP, Custom Application Development and Support. He did his MBA from IIM Calcutta and B.Tech from IIT Kanpur.

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