On behalf of the 15,000 odd members of NHRDN from 30 chapters spread throughout the country — representing private and public Sectors, Indian and multi-national Corporations, Academia, NGOs and Government Organizations — it is my proud privilege to welcome you to the 18th National Conference of NHRDN. As India’s largest network of HR professionals, we are committed to creating the Human Capital that will power Tomorrow’s Company, Tomorrow’s Community, Tomorrow’s India and, at the risk of not sounding very humble, Tomorrow’s World.
Given our approach of distributed leadership, the activities and offerings of NHRDN, both at the National as well as at the Chapter levels, are an ongoing perennial affair. The National Conference is an annual opportunity for us to engage with some of the finest minds and most respected individuals in our ecosystem — an opportunity to reboot, recharge and reinvent ourselves. At the risk of carrying coal to New Castle – or more appropriately to Jharia – I would like to respectfully suggest, that we get out of any experience, in proportion to what we want to get and what we put into the experience. It is our fond hope that over the next two-and-a-half days, we will be mindful, and in the here and now, so that we are open and receptive to the knowledge, experience and networking opportunities that a Conference of this kind offers.
There is however one minimum requirement. You have to keep your soul in this room – and that is spelt S.O.L.E !
Far better, and more qualified, people than me will share with you their wisdom and experience over the next two days on various aspects of being successful in the VUCA world. However, most humbly and respectfully, I would like your indulgence to share my thoughts on the challenges that I believe NHRDN would need to address in the years ahead. So here goes…
In the VUCA world, organizations and leaders would need to create a culture that simultaneously addresses three imperatives in any situation.
1) The first, which must be the beginning and the never-ending end, is sustained business outperformance.
2) The second is extreme care for all stakeholders which includes not only customers, employees, value chain associates and shareholders, but also the communities in which we operate.
3) Third, nurturing and strengthening the core values of the Organization
All three have to be addressed simultaneously : Sustained business outperformance, extreme care and core values
This will require not only processes, systems and metrics, but equally the ability to create an inspiring dream and vision, and a mindset which
· accepts no limits,
· does alternative thinking for innovation and
· simultaneously drives positive change both within and outside the organization.
At the core of this approach lies the Unleashing of Human Potential in the context of empowerment and the creation of shared value. That is indeed a mouthful, but I will plough on nonetheless.
I believe that to create such an organizational culture, leadership behaviour will need to exhibit the following seven competencies –the Secret Seven –, and therefore NHRDN must create the platforms and frameworks in the days ahead to bring these behaviours to life :
1. In the increasingly inter-connected world create the DNA of digital masters who are able to combine digital capabilities with strong change management Leadership to envision and drive transformation. Combining the What of digital mastery, with the How of engaging with customers and internal operational processes to create new business paradigms and models.
2. Using the whole mind where leaders effortlessly combine in any situation the left-brain of logic, rationality and reason with the right-brain of empathy, connection, intuition and creativity.
3. Doing more with less, which has to be the mantra going forward, will need leaders who are multipliers of energy, engagement, ownership and passion. People who listen, focus on asking the right questions, have no desire to command and control but infact co-create solutions and get genuine joy out of seeing a thousand flowers bloom.
4. Encourage innovation by creating a culture of risk-taking which essentially implies knowing how to manage fear and leveraging failure to create success. This will be particularly important rapid prototyping, quick feedback loops and learning from our experiences, especially from our failures.
5. The ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each. In simple English, this means moving from the tyranny of either /or to the power of and (not sure if that was simple English or complex Greek!). Some people also call this creating the opposable mind and this could be a major weapon in the armoury of Tomorrow’s leader.
6. The ability to be mindful in the age of distraction. This is the age of over information and over stimulation, which stretches us so much that we have neither the time nor the inclination to go deep into any subject and achieve mastery. It will become extremely important for people to focus, prioritize and then get into a state of “flow” which produces the kind of innovation and creativity needed to succeed in the VUCA world. This is the ability to tap into the power of here and now enabling magic to be created in every moment, so necessary for Tomorrow’s Company.
7. Last, but perhaps most important, how do we create leaders who promote a culture of trust. This will require not only technical competence, but authenticity. Do I say what I think, and do I do what I say? It is only when leaders walk the talk, aligning thinking, doing and being consistently in pursuit of the triple bottom line of profit, people and planet, that we will address what is perhaps today the biggest malaise : lack of trust, resulting in a deep divide between the haves and the have not’s, which often takes the form of subterfuge, violence and bloodshed as the wretched of the earth strive to find their rightful place under the sun.
In this scenario of VUCA and countervailing pressure from different stakeholders, inclusion and diversity will surely be an important agenda on the radar screen of NHRDN, as will be efforts to participate in the initiative to create a blue collar labour ecosystem that will not only make Corporations and India competitive, but will also ensure fairness and inclusion : competitive, fair and inclusive will need to be a war cry.
And to do all this with Satya, Prem and Seva.
Satya (Truth) : to speak the truth regardless of the consequences
Prem (Compassion) : the ability to put myself into the shoes of the other
Seva (Service) : to go beyond the self, to harness the power of giving — to wipe tears from the eyes of those in pain and sorrow, to bring a smile onto the face of those in despair and hopelessness.
I know that I have raised many issues, but the idea was to give you a sense of the complex challenges and opportunities that NHRDN, and the HR fraternity, need to engage with in the years ahead. I am sure that many of these issues, plus more, will be addressed by the galaxy of star speakers in the sessions today, tomorrow and the day after.
I hope you have a wonderful conference. Good luck and God bless.