Worklife: How good leadership can facilitate workplace transformation

Think on your feet and inspire the team

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By Sanjeev Pradhan Roy

Published: Thu 1 Jun 2023, 8:32 PM

True workplace transformation is a mirage for most and an oasis for few, the dew is the proof of the mist that bubbles around fancy vision-mission-values statements.

For any kind of transformation at workplace, leadership becomes a key element. That becomes the key to opening the doors of engagement, empathy, fairness and empowerment that is flashed fluidly in the marketing pitches, yet shines very dimly on the ground.

The spotlight has shifted from sheer rhetoric to actionable outcomes and thankfully the sensitized workforce is able to demand scenarios that works for them and not just for the organization alone.

The question is what kind of leadership matters and is sustainable in the long run?

Whilst there are many models of leadership, few succeed and most fail on the people agenda. Just because a business is doing well, doesn’t reflect a great place to work. Neither an engaged workforce gets merit for a flailing business scenario. The balance is difficult to achieve, as humaneness and materialism seldom are great travel partners and workplace is a journey not just a milestone- based destination. Yet the people centricity is the core around which evolved businesses will have to pivot with more genuineness and traction.

They say a good leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. They empower teams around them and make them better, not exploit them for their own agendas or egos. Successful leaders give credit where its due, have a generosity gene and celebrates other successes with a positive lens. A lot of toxicity exists in the name of assumed supremacy on degrees attained and associations, where other’s body of work is rubbished in lieu of their frameworks and so called vision. You cannot throw people under the bus callously and declare that change has been made, progress is about taking everyone along, not just a few, its about changing lives for the better, not driving vested narratives.

Transformational leaders are the Chief Brooming officer, eradicating silos, Chief Fun Officer, making the workplace a haven to look forward to every day and Chief Empathy Officer, personalizing the challenges of people around them and doing something about it. We are human resources alright, but humans first and resources later, so the quantification can wait and qualitative metric can prosper & linger first.

There has been visible change today in how one measures performance management in organization, going away from the draconian bell curves to nine box grid to driving change through holistic goal settings and enabling its achievements. SLAs and TATs are useful metrics, but it shows a trend for insights and corrective action taking, not for castigating someone for its delta.

The much talked about KPIs (key performance indicators) are gradually giving way to new meanings of Keep People informed-involved-interested-inspired, for real transformation. These are not just great phrases but the coinage is an emotion that is representative of today’s talent landscape.

Its critical to remember though that one needs to be a digger of gold and not a digger of dirt, the latter of which is generally the case. The Jack Welch and Ali Baba’s leadership theories of commoditizing talent for dollar value alone and extracting other’s soul literally through unreasonable hours at workplace & unreasonable expectations, in the name of optimization, have become passe. Increasingly such leaders are being called out by sensitized people groups, forums and employees and even is tied in to an organization’s ability to bid and win in the market.

In the worklife crucifix, of loyalty, longevity, stability and tenure, a talent has to decide when saturation is getting masked and career progress impaired unknowingly. Most of the time, talents find it hard to draw a line of “enough” at the altar of a leader’s unreasonableness its ability to act in their own interest.

The question is how reasonable can unreasonableness be for a call to action?

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