By Yatender Sharma
Often, we hear about transformation of people, process and technologies to bring about desirable changes in an organization to make it a world leader. While most of the time we discuss and ponder over these changes, seldom do we think about bringing transformational changes in behavioural aspects of the leadership team.
It is a matter of the fact that changes in an organization flows from top to bottom, which is made evident by the fact that agile implementation does not materialize effectively until the management provides its whole-hearted support for it.
This makes one wonder whether it is really so difficult to bring about changes in behaviour and the thought pattern of leaders? If yes, why is it so? And what are the areas we need leadership team to influence changes in, in line with latest trends in the industry?
With the extensive professional experience that leaders have – let’s say at least a decade if not more, have come certain tried and tested methods for performing tasks, which of course, have brought their team success in the past. Even though they are set in stone as trusted mantras for success – in the ever-dynamic nature of the IT sector – every approach needs constant reaffirmation. Given how no single technology has been able to stay at the top of the ladder for too long, which is also the case with processes, methodologies, strategies, people etc. – changing times, require a change in approach as well.
The first thing in the direction of initiating a transformation for leaders is understanding the present scenario and then un-learn what has earlier worked for them. This means there lies a need to start afresh and to re-learn newer tricks of the trade.
Few areas wherein leaders can introspect and work to change attributes, to put their organizations on a growth trajectory are:
A Leader needs to analyse and understand his / her leadership style, which many be any one of the following:
- Command and Control – A leadership style that has more of micromanagement in it, a command and control style of leadership is one wherein a team looks for directions from their leader, who assigns them relevant tasks and monitors them closely. This kind of leadership is useful when there is a lack of clarity regarding certain areas e.g. requirements, team skills, ways of working, reporting structures etc.
- Transformational and Delegating – When the initial queries on a project, team, skills, reporting are resolved and the team starts owning their deliverables as per project needs, then the leader starts delegating to the team for handling day to day activities and moves out of limelight. This makes the team become self-organized and deliver to the best of their abilities. This is what is implied by the Transformational and Delegating kind of leadership.
Architecture – IT applications have come a long way in terms of architectural evaluation – from the previous Jurassic ages, to monolithic architecture, to the latest uber – microservices. A leader needs to influence the team to analyse the application and its business use and then select which architecture is best suited for the current application. This, in turn, ensures that the best results in terms of deployment, scaling and turn-around time can be achieved.
Deployment Strategies – Due to the everchanging needs of the business, deployment cycles have reduced from months to weeks to days to hours. To enable this pace of deployment on production we must adapt latest trends in Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). Use of various tools of CI and CD are dependent on various factors such as Application architecture, team skills, business requirement, cost etc. Thus, to ensure the pace of delivery, a Leader must enable team members to take risks in deployment and take customer feedback as early as possible.
Infrastructure – With the cloud becoming the talk of the town in the IT sector and most of IT Applications are moving to it for its obvious benefits such as availability, scalability, pay as you go etc. Leaders need to hence, perform a careful analysis of cost, flexibility, security, risk etc. before proceeding to cloud adaptation.
Talent Management – Talent management is key to organizations being able to leapfrog from ‘good’ to ‘great’ but mostly we hear about challenges in talent management which are evident from attrition, unhappy employees, decreasing productivity etc. A leader can influence the team to bring the best out in them and create an atmosphere of trust, teamwork, ownership and meritocracy. Leaders create skills in teams and not designations.
To summarize, successful leadership is a combination of constant unlearning and learning which means you need to unlearn:
- Directing and Transactional leadership style
- Behavioural trends of Obedience, Compliance, Formality, Centralizing
- Assumption that World is predictable and deterministic
While at the same time learn and adapt the following things:
- Delegating and transformational style of leadership
- Behavioural trends of Self-disciple, Initiative, Informality, De-centralization
- Assuming that the world is unpredictable and probabilistic
Agility in leadership style as a transformative capacity is something that should be a priority for leaders so that they can act as key enablers by developing new mindsets and capabilities. This will not only help in creating highly efficient delivery teams but will also enable the organisation in moving faster, driving innovation and be able to constantly adapt to and at the same time shape the changing environment around them.
(Disclaimer: The author of the article is the Head of Testing at JK Technosoft and the views expressed here are his own)