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Hiring a Leader: The role of a business leader

Sanjay Kumar , CEO, Elior

It is a moot point whether leaders are born or made, but there is no denying – at least in the modern-day business environment – that it is their responsibility to develop future leaders, who will go on to assume positions of increasing complexity and scope. We are fast and approaching a demographic tipping point – baby boomers are exiting the workforce and millennial are growing into leadership roles. Their preparedness to lead, therefore, becomes critical in determining the success of the organizations they work with.

Success itself is no longer measured by profits, but by the environmental and socio-cultural impact a business achieves. And the business environment, in turn, is continually evolving to embrace the latest advancements in technology. The role of a business leader – a tough job to begin with – has become even more challenging today. What skills and qualities, therefore, should one look for, when grooming future leaders within the organization, or hiring people for leadership positions?

There are several qualities of a leader. It’s essential to be accepted and respected as a leader by a young workforce whose views on matters of work and workplace culture differ significantly from those of the old schools.

Authenticity: Leaders must be must be honest, forthright, and clear in their dealings with external as well as internal stakeholders. The younger generations have low tolerance for hypocrisy or high-handed behavior. They believe respect must be earned through actions, not designations. Leaders must be prepared to walk the talk, and set high standards for business and personal conduct.

Adherence to values: The values we uphold give us direction and strength when it comes to making difficult decisions, and it is no different with business leaders. Successful leaders constantly refer to their personal and organizational values in every decision-making process. More importantly, they encourage their employees to do the same. Millennial like to work with organizations that reflect their own value system

Courage: Leaders, more than anyone, must have the courage to always do what’s right and consistent with the highest ethical standards, even in situations of extreme pressure. Because of the position they hold, their decisions have organization-wide effects, whether good or bad. Employees respect and stand by a leader who shows strength of character.

Risk tolerance: Millennial are independent thinkers and have an innate entrepreneurial streak that manifests even as they go about their jobs. Their leader must be able to channelize their considerable abilities by empowering them sufficiently and giving them a free reign within the requirements of their role. This entails risk – a risk that leaders must allow for, to create a happy and energizing workplace.

Collaborative nature: Independent they might be, but millennial will be required to work in a business environment that increasingly calls for collaboration between different teams, functions, and geographies. Leaders are expected to be collaborative workers themselves, seeking inputs from different functional heads, business heads, and the company’s customers.

Willingness to mentor: Nobody likes to be told what to do, the younger generation even less so. What they expect instead, is to be guided and mentored in their roles, so that their abilities are utilized to the fullest. Leaders cannot operate as a command-and-control center; instead they should help people see things from different perspectives, encourage learning, and turn work into learning experiences. The key to effective leadership lies in guiding and empowering people to be the best they can be. It is simple and obvious principle, and an age-old one, at that. It is a happy irony that it took the emergence of a new-age workforce to rediscover it.

The article was published on timeshrx.com on February 22, 2018