Though India has produced some great leaders till date, the road ahead for India Inc seems bumpy.
A recent report by Booz & Company, which analysed India’s top 500 companies, concluded that, by 2017, 15-18% leadership positions in these companies will remain vacant or will be filled by underprepared employees. This means companies will be missing one out of five leaders they need.
Earlier studies have also pointed out the same. A study by Harvard Business Publishing in 2010 stated that an overwhelming 88% of top Indian companies cited “gaps in their leadership practice” as the top challenge.
The 2012 Manpower Group Talent Shortage Survey reported that 48% of respondents in India had difficulty finding qualified candidates for senior managerial positions. The survey also found India among the top three countries facing a shortage of skilled leaders.
“India, as a country, is focused on developing technology than people in leadership roles. So we have technocrats concentrating on innovations but can’t manage teams and lead them,” says Uday Salunkhe, Group Director-WeSchool.
The problem, according to experts, lies in our education system which teaches to you be competitive and not collaborative. “MBA schools teach people management skills, but how to inspire people to give their best and get people to work in a team together are not very effectively taught,” says Keyuri Singh, VP-HR, Blue Star Infotech.
During the early 2000, many young managers were spring-boarded into the leadership roles and thrust into the frontline. “The average age of the Indian workforce is younger than the age of the western workforce. While armed with oodles of IQ, this young workforce has not been able to develop similar EQ,” remarks Ashish Arora, founder and MD, HR Anexi.
Many feel organisations tend to promote employees who are excellent individual workers, but lack the qualities to be a good leader and a worker. Singh feels organisations should understand that a top performer does not necessarily mean a good leader.
“A person may be technically very sound, but may lack people management skills. There are different motives which drive different people and people who are great performers are often so focused on their achievements that they often do so at the expense of the company,” Singh says.
Ganesh Natarajan, CEO, Zensar, feels the faculty in the top MBA schools in India are from the academic community and not from the industry.
Many believe that people who are specialists in a particular field or experts in technology may not make great leaders and organisations need to create a separate career path where they can flourish and not over-burden them with people-oriented responsibilities.
Things are, however, changing. “Some of the companies today have in-house programmes to identify and groom leaders for tomorrow. However, this needs to be done more and more with on- the-job guidance and mentoring,” says James Agrawal, MD, BTI Consultants India.
“Companies now send CEOs-in-waiting to international business schools where there are separate leadership programmes. A few years back, I was sent to Harvard Business School to learn the nuances of what is needed to be a leader. Many great workers may not be equally great as leaders,” says Natarajan.