KB 48 Wise Leadership

KNOWLEDGE BEANS a human resource newsletter

issue no 48 | July 2012

continued from previous page | WISE LEADERSHIP : Anshoo Gaur

we should constantly practice and re-visit our foundational belief system so as not to lose acquired wisdom. He also believes that contributing towards the good of the organization, society and ensuring profitability are not mutually exclusive ideas. It is not an either-or selection. Wise leaders need to take into account the impact of every decision on all the stakeholders. The weights associated and assigned to the stakeholders are different based upon the issue at hand but they are never zero. According to him, wise leaders not only recognize the interconnectivity and make

either-or selection, it is romanticism and realism. As stated earlier, all stakeholders should be considered and given the appropriate weightage based upon the context of the decision at hand. This balance can then be called ‘Pragmatism’. Leadership would not be wise if the balance was missing. Anshoo shared a practical example of something his organization had to consider recently. They had to decide on whether providing medical insurance for employees’parents, from the societal point of view would be a good thing to do. The opposing vector was the business need for

the right decisions but also create an organizational culture where greater good does not become subservient to short-term profitability. The average lifespan of a typical corporation is about 40 years and if a company is to survive beyond that, he believes that innovation and pragmatism balance the stakeholder needs. If one goes by the recent data on global and Indian corporate scandals and/or prosecutions, whether it is Satyam or Enron, global collapse of the financial systems and companies like Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, recent insider trading prosecutions, and even high profile bankruptcies, we see that wise leadership is not as common as one would like it to be. From all these examples it is clear that wise leadership if not prevalent at the top it ‘will not’ be cultivated in the organization. On the other hand, it is not all bad news; there are positive stories as well. One closer to home is the Tata group, where the ownership structure of the group is such that key shareholders are philanthropic trusts and hence by default there is a tight linkage between profitability and good of the society. So Anshoo believes that it starts at the top, but the good news is that it is possible to cultivate this trait at all levels across the organization and in fact this is a must for a wise leader who would wish to create something that will outlast them and future generations. Organizations today should emphasize on cultivating this trait. When asked to share his views on ‘Idealism’ and ‘Pragmatism’ he believes that leaders should be romantic and idealistic. The world has big problems that need to be solved, and these will not be addressed if leaders take a conservative and traditional approach. The romanticism should be balanced with a dose of realism and yet again this is not an

them not to escalate operating cost and in-fact the desire was to reduce them. The pragmatic decision reached was that they included parents in the overall policy because of which they were able to obtain a policy where the premiumwas a lot lesser, and benefits were better than what an employee would get (for their parents) if they did so in the market. The premium for the parents would be picked up by the employee.

While, the long-term benefits are yet to be seen, this in his view was the right balance taking all stakeholders into account. According to Anshoo, an organization codifies its purpose so that everyone has absolute clarity on the raison d’être of the organization and its fundamental purpose. This can be communicated and amplified further through the vision and mission statements. It’s also imperative that all employees understand what the organization wishes to achieve in the long run. Training programmes to instill and create awareness about the basics are required on a regular basis. Most importantly, leaders must be role models who demonstrate the balance, communicate, verbalize effectively so that they can bring people along, and also mentor key leaders on pragmatic decision making which is central to building the lasting legacy. In the situation where codification is not in place at the organizational level, the leader should do all the things that are mentioned above. In addition, leaders should create an environment of learning and sharing which cannot always be taught through formal channels and hence, it

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