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Mid-career upskilling required to enhance leadership capabilities & brace for global challenges

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The Economic Times
13th January, 2022 14:10 IST

India is currently facing a talent shortage at the mid & senior level and in the leadership team to manoeuvre their organisations through disruptive and challenging times caused by digitalisation, economic uncertainties, and the pandemic. Upskilling through specially designed programmes would develop competencies and blend experience among leaders by increasing their bandwidth to initiate countermeasures to address business uncertainties.

India Inc. has experienced a shortage of skilled personnel across senior-level positions to steer operations to drive growth and profitability. It led Indian entities to delay their transformation to digitalise and compete with global institutions due to limited foresight and a conservative approach in decision-making.

Several Indian companies witnessed a delay due to myriad factors to upgrade their processes and initiated steps to usher change as institutions worldwide stayed in sync with global challenges. There has been an urgent need to build competencies from the top leadership team to senior management to match industry requirements. Several senior management personnel, known to be reluctant to change, have held on to positions despite possessing outdated skills. It led to skirmishes within the organisation, making next-generation leaders vulnerable and exited for greener pastures, thus, leaving a dent in the company’s talent pool.

An article titled “India’s Leadership Change,” published in 'Strategy+Business’ mentioned the shortcomings in the Indian industry through a study by Harvard Business Publishing in 2010 by stating that 88 per cent of top Indian companies cited ‘gaps in leadership practice’ as their main challenge in coming years. Moreover, the 2012 Manpower Group Talent Shortage Survey that reported 48 per cent of respondents based in India had difficulty finding qualified candidates for their senior managerial positions. A decade later, this forecast still holds relevance.

However, the pandemic led to economic upheaval and unsettled organisations in every possible manner. It led to one of the biggest economic disruptions since the Great Depression and the 2008 global crisis. The unpredictability of the nature of the virus led to fear among employees, stakeholders, supply chain, and end-users. Organisations became vulnerable due to a lack of expertise in tackling issues raised by human resources, finance, and operations during the lockdown period. A survey by consultancy firm PwC India stated that over 90 per cent of Indian leaders necessitated better crisis preparedness and build capabilities. Better management would have enabled our leaders to be collaborative, innovative and demonstrate their prowess during a crisis-like situation.

The Global Leadership Forecast 2021 revealed that only 11 per cent had a strong leadership bench, a decline of seven per cent from 2010, thereby showcasing organisations’ failure to invest in their leadership training mechanisms and grooming next-gen leaders. The Forecast added that only 37 per cent of the HR professionals considered their leadership team to be of high quality. Hence, it has led global organisations to realise the need to build leadership capabilities across all business practices to improve tactical decision making, instil strategic foresight, and innovation through greater technological inclusion.

Professor Ashok Banerjee of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta believes there is a need to funnel the leadership vacuum and enhance the leadership capabilities of senior executives and leaders to stay abreast with the fundamental requirements of the evolving business landscape. “The pandemic has taught us to build, nurture and hone our skills sets and channelise those across businesses. It mandated CEOs, C-suite leaders, and other senior executives build their capabilities across domains through technology, innovative HR practices, and self-development amidst the changing paradigms. The leadership needs to stay relevant and bolster their business by taking the onus on themselves to build new-age leadership teams that are competent in making swift decisions and overcoming obstacles seamlessly,” said Banerjee.

A study by Cognizant and MIT Sloan Management Review on ‘The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age: Reimagining What It Takes to Lead’ suggested that 82 per cent of respondents believed that the economy would need digitally savvy leaders. Forty per cent felt that their organisations were taking necessary steps to harness digitalisation into their organisations. However, 70 per cent believed that they were prepared to lead their organisation into the digital economy but fared poorly on the understanding of digital skills like analytics and applying machine learning in their organisation’s operations.

The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta’s LEAD (Learn, Enhance, Aspire, Deliver): An Advance Management Programme caters to the challenges that have accelerated several changes across businesses and created a need to build next-gen capabilities. Anish Srikrishna, Chief Executive Officer, Times Professional Learning, said, “Leaders need to bridge the gap due to several disruptive changes over the past couple of years and stay abreast to the new-age business dynamics. Indian Institute of Management Calcutta’s LEAD, in association with Times TSW, will build leadership capabilities and meet the skill challenges to assist new-age business dynamics. These are advanced learnings that will enable leaders to plan and strategise better and empower the abilities of their staffers with promising outcomes.”

Prof. Anirvan Pant of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta added that advanced programmes such as LEAD by IIM Calcutta provides C-suite leaders and senior executives a structured training programme to strengthen their organisations, create new business practices and build a foundation to nurture ‘Next Gen’ leaders. “The programme will provide learners with skills like strategic thinking, negotiations, conflict resolution, design thinking, among others, to counter disruptive change in the environment. Industry leaders should invest in continuous professional development of their leadership teams at regular intervals to stay abreast with global business practices while engaging with peers from diverse sectors and backgrounds,” said Prof. Pant, a programme director of LEAD.


Disclaimer: Content Produced by Times Professional Learning (TPL)

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