Power to empower

C. Subramaniam (President–HR, Siyaram Silk Mills Ltd) says a leader must empower and give a free hand to employees to execute the assigned tasks

Q. As a leader, how do you influence the behaviour of others to achieve set organisational goals?

A. It is walk the talk. As an HR professional, I have not restricted myself just to HR function. Since HR along with business and functional heads defines the KRA, it is pertinent on my part to get directly involved in the business strategy of the organisation and help it achieve the set organisational goals. I personally have one-on-one discussion with my team and I make it a point to monitor their performance on quarterly basis.

Q. Whether it is creating strategy or mobilising teams to action, success largely depends on how leaders do it. How do you do it?

A. I believe in empowering them and giving them a free hand to do their entrusted tasks. I am always accessible for my team, which acts as a motivation for them. I believe in total transparency and also expect the same from my team. If they commit any mistake, then I take the onus of it and if they do anything good, I ensure they get due recognition for ir.

Q. How important is it for a leader to take responsibility for developing other leaders, and what is your method of doing it?

A. A leader has left a void if he or she has not developed leaders under his or her regime. No organisation can survive for long if it does not groom young leaders to take over from their seniors. Even though the leader might have served the company for decades, according to me, he or she is selfish, self centered and insecure about the position if the leader does not encourage his team members to assume bigger responsibilities. They might have been instrumental in the success of organisation but they do more harm by not developing leaders under them.

Here, I believe, it is important to prepare a clear competency framework dealing with technical competency, functional competency and leadership competency for the organisation. Accordingly, identify the competency gaps through competency assessment centre developed in-house and identify the right leaders in the organisation. This exercise will scientifically prove and also give an insight as to which leader is suitable and will be successful in the organisation rather than developing leaders based on their past performance, loyalty and proximity to the top management.   Q. How difficult is it to change the mindset or framework of an employee?

A. I do not think it is difficult to change the mindset of any employee. It is basically how you treat them and how transparent you are in your dealings with them. Today’s generation has to be handled very differently, giving them a lot of space and freedom.

Q. What are some of the critical personal and professional competencies for a leader in the Indian context?

A. Resourcefulness, change management, building and mending relationships, balancing personal and professional life.

Q. Awareness of others’ needs and concerns is extremely important. As a leader, how do you ensure that?

A. Listening plays an important role. Listening skill has to be developed in every manager and leader. It is an art that has to be learnt and mastered. No school or college can teach this art and this has to be inculcated as a habit right from your childhood days. This requires lot of patience and perseverance, but with a right attitude you can imbibe this skill. Through proper training, one can master it as well.

Q. It has been observed that moods of people influence their work and productivity and leaders in turn influence the moods of their people through their styles. Is it true in your case?

A. From the materialistic point of view. yes We all are bound by three gunas (nature) – sattvic (goodness), rajasic (passion) and tamasic (ignorance). Hence, depending upon the situation, we act and react on the influence of these three gunas. From spiritual point of view, if we manage to transcend these three gunas, we will not be so drastically influenced by any moods. It is a kind of journey.

Q. They say visionary leader is the one who inspires people towards shared goals. How would you interpret the definition?

A. I believe in transforming rather than inspiring. Because, in the end, a leader will be assessed on how many people he or she has transformed in his or her life time. The success will be measured on the scale of transformation and inspiration is a part of transformation.

Q. How important is clear communication and the ability to persuade, inform, stimulate and convince the team members?

A. I do not believe in communicating through emails. It is done only for keeping the records. Generally, it is important that you have regular meetings, personal contact with your team members so that you understand their body language, aspirations, enthusiasm and moods. This also ensures transparency and involves them in all decisions taken so that they are part of the decision-making process. This also creates a synergy and bonding within the team.

Q. How do you differentiate between leader-centered leadership and group-centered leadership?

A. Leader-centered styles achieve organisational success through self-realisation and self-projection of the leader. These styles are primarily found in organisations that rely on authority, specific directions and strict deadlines for success. These organisations have top-down, hierarchical structure. Group-centered styles achieve organisational success through realisation, growth and development of the group and followers