Leadership Lessons from a Leader’s Life
Leadership is not complicated!
Mr. Hardeep Singh, demystified leadership as he shared some of his extraordinary life stories with the InspireOne team at Udaan 2021, InspireOne’s half-yearly pitstop for organizational alignment.
Mr. Singh has occupied leadership positions for several decades shaping the future of global organizations – A visionary, a thought leader, and a strategic guide serving as a member on the boards of several organizations.
In the tapestry of stories that he narrated, was evident a world of leadership wisdom demystified. From his journey of turning around the Tea estates in the North-East of India to transforming the supply chains at Cargill India, come critical lessons for becoming a transformational leader.
He believes the following are the tenets for leaders to be effective and of effective leaders
Self-Awareness: With years of experience and wisdom under your belt, you tend to develop your learning and own stories about the world. Leaders should be cautious in not letting themselves be caged in their perceptions but acknowledge their biases and partner with others to overcome blind spots.
Humility to own failures: What makes a leader truly transformational is their ability to own their failures. Good leader shares their stories of success as well as failures. Discussing your failures not just keeps you grounded but can be an excellent way to demonstrate your authentic self and connect with others.
Cut the clutter: Leaders are often mired with conflicting priorities and deep complexities. It thus becomes essential for them to manage their time effectively, allocating time for critical activities like strategy development, hiring the right talent & connecting with their teams.
Pinch of Humor (even at your own expense at times ): Mr. Singh recounted his days as a chairperson for an MNC when his team members mocked him for continuously getting fined for violating a policy. The policy, which he had designed himself, encouraged cross-functional interactions and penalized (in a light way) members having lunches only with their teams. His humility in acknowledging his mistake and engaging in banter inspired many.
Asking the right questions: In today’s age & world when we are mesmerized by the idea of VUCA & its implications, the role of the leader has also evolved. Leaders today should not be afraid of asking fundamental questions – questions that enable the team to dig deeper and reach the level of their ignorance to discover richer insights.
Navigating difficult conversations: Another vital aspect of developing teams is to put forth what’s not working; telling the team members what they have not done well. Having authentic conversations can have a profound impact on the development of teams and help build trust.
Leveraging dissent: It’s essential to break the tyranny of consensus and encourage dissent in teams. Encouraging dissent allows team members to generate more innovative solutions to existing challenges, make data-based decisions and enhance the inclusion of marginalized voices. Leaders need to create a safe space for all voices to flourish.
Driving excellence at work:
Looking beyond your domain: What could you take away from your deep understanding of the alcohol industry to turn around the performance of Tea – estates. Turns out a lot! Mr. Singh leveraged his prior experiences in different businesses & his outside perspective to challenge the deeply entrenched assumptions, explore new ways of working, improve existing processes, and reinvigorate the tea business.
Making deeper connections with your business stakeholders: Every stakeholder is a vital cog in the wheels driving business sustainability. Engaging with the farmers and residents of the village which catered to the supply of the company’s critical raw materials, not just ensured a more efficient supply delivery but also enhanced the reputation & loyalty of the farmers.