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Vineet’s Session on Fundamentals of HR Leadership – My Takeaway – Nasscom HR Summit 2013

July 23, 2013 6 comments

This was my first time of attending Nasscom HR summit and I was curious and excited (at the same time) to understand views of HR for HR to HR. However, the day was about to start with Vineet Nayar’s (Vice Chairman – HCL Technologies) eye opening session on “Five fundamentals of a futurist HR leader”. I did hear him a lot about his speaking earlier but it was a fantastic opportunity to hear him from 3rd row J.

He started a session with a question to all HR professionals to see whether HR thinks that they have instilled enough trust in the people. He asked a full packed HR house to imagine a situation. Let’s say if HR tells their people that all of their associates have to jump from a tall story building right now OR else they will die. In most cases – people will not jump which is a reality of the “HR” situation as of now. Vineet insisted HR to consider the current situation to more opportunity than threat and how can they transform into former.

He gave a great analogy of a “War-situation” where in good old days army used to create a formation where leader used to be in front protecting his men behind him leaving their enemy only one point to attack. Let’s consider in today’s situation if leaders really “lead” from the front to take brunt OR if they are exposing their associates to feel the same and pass on to a leader. Shouldn’t this be the other way round? HR is too busy to look inwards about their internal processes and people that they are not pointing their weapon outward in war like situation. The principals in war and leadership haven’t changed! His message was very clear that HR needs to come out of their own inwards zone to face outwards and lead to create a trust in their people.

Vineet mentioned that India is a land of “Billion aspirations”. Everyday people get out of their bed to become Bill Gates, Narayan Murthy etc. As a HR professionals, do we care about our people’s aspirations enough OR we are imposing them company’s own vision / mission? Aren’t HR primarily responsible to fulfill people’s aspirations? He mentioned that “Why are we in business of counting cows and not breeding horses”? For an individual, his/her aspirations are more important than company’s vision statements. Are we forcing them to lead them on to a path which does not go through their own aspirations and inspirations?

He spoke about changes HR needs to bring to the organization.

First change is about Management mindset change! Role of HR is more of an influencer rather than ruler. He gave an example of Mahatma Gandhi who first made Indians aware about their “sorry” state of freedom, influence them through their speeches and played a vital role to bring independence without actually ruling India. Why can’t HR play the same role of an influencer in the company to bring required change in management mindset?

Next change is about employee mindset. He challenged the current ways of structural hierarchy, growth and career path. Why people in IT always dream about following a set path which includes get into IT sector then thinking of going abroad to earn money? Why can’t we promote more open, flat and social workplaces where people earn recognition by number of followers they have? This is a real reward in today’s situation.

In terms of third change – it needs to be within HR’s own mindset. Again, is HR creating enough transparency and trust within people? When can we go beyond counting cow business?

A very good though he implanted into an eager audience is about why can’t we look at today’s “leadership selection” differently? We promote leaders on the basis of their P&L performance and who may be totally working in silos. Why can’t we look at leaders who in-turn creates more leaders rather than just looking at numbers?

We speak very proudly about our companies which may have long legacy, have large workforce and have achieved high growth and profit. Can we look at what is broken internally and we promoting those broken patches and invite people to fix them? Isn’t that opportunity more lucrative than publishing numbers which may mean nothing for people? Get people excited by imperfections and how can they become heroes by fixing them.

He mentioned that today value is created at bottom and counted at top; in real world – it should be the other way round. Leadership needs to create a value by themselves which means we need to redefine the role of business managers.

I have sincerely tried to capture Vineet’s thoughts without diluting them with any of my add-ons purposely. His views were radical and made HR think about some fundamental issues in our own system, processes, structures, leadership and people – all the pillars of HR. It was one of those very rare “HR” related session which glued me completely to his voice. I thought it was a great opportunity to put these thoughts across everyone.

All of these thoughts are captured by me who may mean some variance from his exact words / statements. Hopefully – I could capture his sentiments.

Hope this could give you a food for thought! It was my take-away for NASSCOM HR conference and made my trip worth-while to Chennai.

P.S. This is my honest effort to put his thoughts across to you and I apologize for any mistake in capturing his speech.

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