Featured ArticleIssueOct 21

Identifying next gen leaders

It is extremely critical that one continues to be fully abreast of the latest that is happening in the world and make efforts to learn and stay ahead of the curve. Shripad Joshi, President, Perkin Elmer India and South Asia reveals more

An interesting topic that has the potential to not only determine the future of a company but also the future of our country. As Kouzes and Posner mention in the very famous The truth about leadership, leadership is an affair of the heart. I very firmly believe in this adage and think that to be an effective leader, one needs to put others before self and this perhaps is the most important trait one should look for while we go about identifying the next generation leaders. At the end of the day, leaders should know that it is the people who make the difference.

A lot has been written about leadership by very eminent writers over the years. What has personally worked for me in these years to identify and groom the next generation leaders include identifying the spark, their passion and commitment, vision and strategy, empathy and culture, knowing your customers, seamless execution and the ability to constantly learn and upgrade yourself.

Identifying the spark
This is the fundamental step in identifying the next generation of leaders. It is not so much about the number of years one spends at work but more importantly what one has learnt
in those years that is more important. Quite often we do see some very young and new employees who display sparks of brilliance. Such people must be encouraged to express themselves without fear of
failure. Such employees will go on to play a pivotal role in the growth of the company in future.

Passion and Commitment
While having a sane head is very important, it is equally critical to identify people who display unhindered passion and commitment towards what they are doing. The ability to believe that achieving something that has not happened in the past is possible and marching towards it with undivided attention is a very important characteristic. Such people go on to achieve incredible results through their passion and commitment to a cause.

Vision and Strategy

It is important to dream big and believe in what you are setting out to achieve. And the ability to take people along collectively with your vision and strategy sets out successful leaders apart from others. People who display these traits, can positively influence all the key stakeholders and display informal leadership and have the respect of peer groups need to be watched closely by the organisations and such people should be encouraged with higher responsibilities.

Empathy and Culture
Empathy and culture could very well be on top of my list. This has assumed even greater proportions in recent times with the impact of the pandemic that has been felt across the globe. Unless one understands others well and is empathetic towards others, it is impossible to be recognized as a credible leader. I believe your character and values as a leader get tested during trying times. It is in these times that one needs to be on top of his/her game. So one must know how empathetic your next-generation leaders are and the kind of culture one is creating in the organisation. A culture of transparency, openness, effective communication and walking the talk is important.

Knowing your customers
Customers could be external or internal. Unless one understands the needs of the customers very well, it is impossible to succeed. It is not so much about meeting metrics, SLAs and deadlines but it is more about what positive impact your work is leaving with your customers. And whether your customer is going to come back to you for more. Yes, one must see that passion towards customers in the next generation leaders.

While all the traits mentioned above are important towards identifying the next-gen leaders, one also needs to see their ability to execute the plans. A plan, vision and strategy can be rendered useless if not executed properly.

Constant learning
With the pace at which the world is changing, one cannot sit on the past laurels or assume “ I know it all”. It is extremely critical that one continues to be fully abreast of the latest that is happening in the world and make efforts to learn and stay ahead of the curve. Conventionally norms are challenged constantly and as a leader, if you do not understand this, it is not possible to build your organisation for the future. Simon Sinek’s Leaders eat last resonates very well with what I think should be looked for in next-generation leaders.

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