Leading with Soul

India – A Strong Achieving Society  

We ( in India) live and work in an achievement-reverent culture.  We have always relied on our drive to do better than before, push the boundaries, get great results in the wake of challenges and constraints. We have always been an achieving society. We are also credited with giving the world many firsts and have been known to spawn inventors, creators, thought leaders and scientists. 

Our hunger to achieve, to continually improve on what exists and our need to create a mark for ourselves on the world platform… has left us with much to be proud off.  It is this drive to achieve that sets us apart. Dr. David McClelland’s* believed that achievement was a critical driver to organizational and national success. In ‘Achieving  Society’ , his seminal study on the subject , he reported that a high concern with achieving  in a country was followed by rapid national growth. 

Continuing Dr. David McClelland’s research, we’ve found that Achievement is on the rise, particularly in the executive ranks.  Our growth today stands as a resounding  testimony to our Achievement Drive. We are one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Indian companies are on double digit growth trajectories and we are buzzing with the promise of a brighter more prosperous future. 

Fuelling the Achievement drive through Superior Intellectual Horsepower 

Most Indian companies have always impressed with their ambitious growth plans and forging ahead to achieve these plans at any cost… Often leaving behind a trail of unfinished projects, unhappy customers, unrealized outcomes and battle bruised employees in their wake… One of the key reasons for this is that while we focus a lot on creating plans,  we do no devote as much passion or energy towards executing that plan. A survey of senior executives showed that firms achieve only 63% of the expected results of their strategic plans. 

Execution  is not just accomplishing a task or a goal, but also to achieve the underlying business objectives. A good execution management will focus on WHAT as well as HOW of an achievement. Execution management is linked to culture and people management and results in creating sustainable and real progress where all stakeholders feel engaged and satisfied. 

We are recognized the world over as an intellectually gifted society and have often been called the ‘brain bank’  for the West.  We have always given a high premium to intelligence and intellectual horsepower. From an early age  – our society, education system and business environment is geared towards valuing, nurturing, fostering and rewarding intelligence. 

Even if you look at the outstanding business leaders in India, they demonstrate extraordinary energy and persistence in overcoming the challenges they face. This is a key strength and big differentiator and it manifests itself in business acumen and the ability to make hard decisions about strategy, execution and resource allocation. It is the founding skill for Indian leaders and finds its root in well honed cognitive intelligence and acumen. 

The question we need to ask ourselves is that – is this enough? Will this reliance on superior intellect be sufficient to help us achieve what we have set out for ourselves in the next stage of our journey … as a nation, as an economy and as business entities? Is it only the quantum and pace of growth / development that matter or is the nature of this growth and development important? How do we ensure that we keep achieving and yet continue to lead enriched and fulfilled lives both at work and in our extended communities?  How do we ensure we are creating environments where individuals strive for results and at the same time feel supported to lead emotionally and socially fulfilling lives? 

The need to complement Cognitive Intelligence with Emotional and Social Intelligence  

Our environment has changed drastically and continues to do so. Even as we speak there is a shift in how work gets done, the nature and composition of our workforce is rapidly changing, the leadership roles in business have undergone tremendous change, leaner organizations and blurring structures  characterize businesses today and there is never ending focus on achieving results. This in turn makes increasing demands on the individual specially in a result, efficiency and impact driven work environment –  where every individual’s contribution counts – the spot light is on everyone. Such an environment demands more than just brain power to succeed and excel  – it demands a special type of sensitivity, maturity and resilience  – and hence the need for Emotional and Social Intelligence is more critical than ever. What makes the biggest difference are  abilities such as being able to handle frustration, control emotions, and get along with other people.. 

 So what does it mean to be Emotionally and Socially Intelligent? 

Emotional and Social Intelligence addresses the emotional, personal, social, and survival dimensions of intelligence. It focuses on understanding oneself and others, relating to people, and adapting to and coping with the surroundings/ environment. At work the right (emotionally intelligent) people can make a big difference. They 

  • Take an enterprise perspective
  • Have the ability to work collaboratively
  • Exhibit integrity
  • Are empathetic
  • Bring out the best in others

Daniel Goleman and the Hay Group have identified a set of competencies that differentiate individuals with Emotional Intelligence. The competencies fall into four clusters: 

  • Self-Awareness: the ability to understand one’s emotions, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Self-Management: the capacity for effectively managing one’s motives and regulating behavior.9
  • Social Awareness: understanding the feelings of others and why they feel and act as they do.
  • Relationship Management: the ability to get results from others and reach personal goals

Our Emotional and Social Intelligence Journey and why it is Important  

We will now examine to what extent Indian Leaders and Managers are seen demonstrating these competencies that are symptomatic of Emotional and Social Intelligence. We looked at ~ 100 Managers/ Leaders  (in  a 12 month period between 2009 – 2010) and found that none of them were seen to demonstrate the targeted level on the competencies that are indicative of Emotional and Social Intelligence  – i.e. there were no managers/ leaders who had met or exceeded the criterion needed to be competent on each of the Four Clusters. Only 2% of the population came Close to the criterion. 

However close to 50% of the population were seen to demonstrate targeted levels of competence on Achievement, Optimism (both from the Self Management Cluster) and Teamwork and Collaboration and Influence (both from the Relationship Management Cluster

Moreover 25- 30% of the population met the criterion for Emotional Self Control (again from the Self Management Cluster) and Developing Others and Inspirational Leadership ( both from the Relationship Management Cluster) . So we seem to be relatively stronger in the Self Management and Relationship Management Clusters.

However less than 5% met the criterion for Accurate Self Assessment (Self-Awareness Cluster), Empathy (Social Awareness Cluster) and Adaptability (Self Management Cluster).

What was interesting was that when we compared these results to those taken in the period between 2006 – 2008 . In that period 2% of the population had met or exceeded the criterion needed to be competent on each of the four clusters as opposed to none in the subsequent period of 2009 – 2010 . Additionally, 11% of the population came close to meeting the criterion as opposed to only 2% in the subsequent period of 2009 – 2010. So does that mean that the focus on Emotional Intelligence in India is waning?

The impact of emotional an dcoacila inteigence

We are not alone, according to studies in this area; Emotional Intelligence is on the decline across all economic groups across all cultures. The most telling signs of this are among young people. The generation that is falling behind in emotional intelligence is entering the workforce today. What is the impact of this on work? A recent survey reveals that:

  • More than 50% of the people who work lack the motivation to keep learning and improving in the job
  • 4 in 10 people are not able to work cooperatively with fellow employees
  • Only 19% of entry. level applicants have enough self-discipline in their work habits
  • Billions of dollars are wasted on development programs leading to a less than desired return on investment in leadership training
  • 70% of all change initiatives are not netting the desired results due to people issues – poor levels of ability to lead, work with others in teams, take initiative, deal with change, etc.

Developing Emotional and Social Intelligence

While recent research has shown the important role Emotional Intelligence plays in effective leadership and performance; the bigger question is – what can we do to build Emotional and Social Intelligence in our Leaders, Managers and our workforce in general? Also, how quickly and effectively can leaders who lack key Emotional Intelligence Competencies develop them?

The good news is that studies have shown how Emotional Intelligence can be enhanced through an effective developmental effort. They point to the importance of an objective, thorough assessment, a clear, step-by-step learning process, and ongoing personal development. It has also been seen that the need for a committed and sustained personal effort to develop – is critical for developing these competencies

Most of us acknowledge the importance of Emotional Intelligence at an intuitive level. We know that a person’s ability to perceive, identify, and manage emotion provides the basis for the kinds of social and emotional competencies that are important for success in almost any type of job. Furthermore, as the pace of change increases and the world of work makes greater and greater  demands on a person’s cognitive and emotional resources, this set of abilities have become increasingly important.

Attributed to Mitali Bose – Managing Consultant & Building Effective Organisations (BEO) Practice Leader, Hay Group India

Website : www.haygroup.com/in/ 

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