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May - 2008 - issue > Leadership
Effective Leaders are Transparent
Pravin Desale
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Effect of Effective Leaders

I believe that every leader needs to personally grow and acquire new talent as the business and the need of employees too keep on changing. What may be effective in one situation may not be fruitful in another. A leader has to be agile yet effective and should be able to lead from front. My leadership strength lies in the fact that I can mould myself as per my business needs. I also ensure that in every situation I handle the task with full transparency as it makes the task much easier for me as well as my teammates to follow and understand. Transparency also ensures that my team is not overtly dependent on me for their activities. This style has helped me in cutting down project times and increasing revenues per head. A transparent way of management also helps the leader in being more effective in communicating his expectations of the team and also his contribution to the team. This ensures effective delegation and finally helps in effective actions. A leader must be clear while spotting talent, as to who should be groomed into a leader. A little investment in talent can result into pipeline of future leaders who have a clear understanding of business, ability to grow the organization and also grow themselves.

Finally I believe that the best reward a leader can give his team is to let them know how valuable they are for any success. I believe in sharing every employee’s contribution to the company with them. Effective leadership requires proactive involvement and feedback. I ensure that my team gets both from me. I believe a leader is only as successful as his team.

On Leadership and Management Style

For me the three pillars, which represent the essence of my leadership and management style, are:
- Transparency
- Visibility driven accountability
- Process and frameworks for success

These pillars help us obtain high quality of customer service, integrity of operations and interactions, individual responsibility and excellence in what is core to us. Using these, I have always tried to align my teams towards maximizing shareholder value while creating consistent growth for our employees within our organization (which is win-win scenario). Of course, one cannot achieve that without taking care of customers who are partners in collective success.

Transparency ensures a level of efficiency within day-to-day interactions. Transparency also ensures consistent information flow at peer level (horizontal) as well as up and down (vertical) within organization. During this era of data and information, I prefer each and every employee of the organization to be connected to the vision of management teams and have ability to express concerns and feedback when and as applicable. Transparency makes that possible. This represents the first important step towards measurable productivity improvements for all of us.

Accountability is important to create efficient matrix as well as standard organizational models. Accountability however needs to be tied with visibility at all levels. Without visibility the responsible or accountable team member who is driving the initiative or debugging critical customer issues or trying to train a group of employees towards critical next assignments, cannot succeed. This visibility ensures appropriate empowerment to team members whom the management can hold accountable towards completion of key tasks or initiatives. With care, this too serves as important pillar to ensure measurable productivity improvements for all of us.

All goals that appear within the task sheet, management by objectives or any other listings at various levels of the organization, needs method or tool or apparatus to measure how we are doing against the objectives. Without this, it would be like sailing the boat without a compass in the dark! My style is clearly focused on establishing processes or frameworks to allow each and every team member to measure his or her performance, track and improve it. This takes dedication, hard work and focus on part of our management teams. However, this is not insurmountable or extremely difficult. Often the difficulty is to set the mindset of all team members to adopt this vision and execute in unison towards these frameworks. Once we accomplish that, I look towards my senior leaders and management teams to help me execute. This pillar too is crucial towards ensuring measurable productivity improvements for all of us (including myself).

It is very important for each team member to believe in the vision of general managers and senior management who use other pillars also constantly in front of everyone. When the entire workforce immerses into proactive thinking towards winning, the force can be quite powerful. My style is to create momentum within various layers of management initially and scale this into the entire organization over time. This pillar too is crucial towards ensuring measurable productivity improvements for all of us.

A Leader also needs Motivation

I can think of three important goals that keep me excited.
- Be number one in customer satisfaction
- Growth of my employees
- Increasing the shareholders value (for our investors)
Customers are the essence of our existence and they are our partners in tactical as well as strategic planning. Ensuring customer satisfaction allows me to receive valuable feedback from our customers when it matters most. Growth of employees needs no further emphasis. It is at the core of organizational growth as well as our success in marketplace. We are in business to create value for our shareholders. This is foundation to our existence as a team.

Impact of previous Bosses and Colleagues

Obviously, I have learnt a great deal from various colleagues within my organization as well as peers and managers of mine who relentlessly guided or opinioned as and when required upon my vision of an utopian organization and work culture where all can grow and deliver. This process continues and I try my best to impart my learning and experience onto management teams and engineers within my matrix organization. The lessons incorporated in my on-the-job personality include processes enabling transparency, sharing reports over Intranet to disable miscommunication and taking care of the employees.

My Hiring Matrix

Hiring right talent is critical towards building successful organizations. People who aspire to don the crown of key responsibilities must realize that it is not an easy task. Hence, those who are chosen reflect the necessary capabilities, maturity and instincts. My parameters for selecting other leaders would be the ability to lead a team with passion, possessing a signature effective leadership and management style, transparency of communicating ideas from top-to-down for the growth of the organization, adaptability to all situations and having the potential to spot potential leaders across the organization.

Are Leaders and Managers, Chalk & Cheese?

Both are quite separate from each other. Many great managers are effective leaders, however this is not true always. A manager uses tools and resources available to optimize deliverables and ensures productivity while ensuring customer satisfaction and revenue generation. A leader is someone who can maximize the potential of employees especially in situations when the employee is not aware of his or her potential. Leaders often guide or train management teams to be efficient and helps create a pipeline of leaders within an organization.

The author is Managing Director - India operations, LSI Corporation He can be reached at Pravin.desale@lsi.com

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