Grooming Great Leaders

DQI Bureau
New Update

Building leadership and leaders has never been more important than it is now.

A lot of leaders in the IT sector are first level line managers, quite far from

the CEO or the next level management.


Until a few years ago, there would be a handful of leaders, who would be

running a large company. Globalization has spread companies far and wide and

this has required leadership to move out of the headquarters. Technology has

resulted in collapsing organization structures.

So how does one go about building leadership and leaders? Just calling

managers as leaders does not solve the problem. Managers need to know and

understand that leadership behavior is expected from them and assisted in

developing leadership behavior, and made accountable it behavior. Of course, the

decision making has to be pushed down to appropriate levels and the managers

must feel empowered.

If managers are held responsible for customer satisfaction and they know that

their performance will be measured by this, they will do what it takes to keep

the customer happy. They must also feel that they can make the right decisions

that will help keep a customer happy, and the mistakes they make will be treated

only as learning lessons and not held against them. This not only gives them

legitimate authority to do the right things, but also makes them more



“Decision-making has to be pushed down to appropriate levels and managers must feel empowered” 

One of the many ways to build leadership is through role modeling. In today’s

world of fast growing companies and GenX employees, there are not enough role

models. Young first-time employees do not think good values can make one

successful, and so blitz, movie stars and rich entrepreneurs impress them the

most. It is a well-established fact that we all ape the behavior of successful

people. How can this be exploited for leadership development? Take a stock of

what is rewarded in your company and what is seen as success. Redefining these

in line with the behavior you expect from your employees would immediately lead

to behavior change.

Almost all companies have a written vision, mission and values. But how do

you get ever increasing new employees to understand and adopt it? In fast

growing and young companies, there are not enough old timers to tell them

"war stories". It is a big challenge to convert the words into spirit.

One experiment that has succeeded really well at HSS is to put a face to this.


We have taken 12 leadership behaviors and converted them into awards. Every

quarter, three of these are chosen and the entire company has a choice of

selecting a person who in their opinion displays these the best. And they can

make one choice each for the awards. The winner is declared on the basis of

number of votes. The top 20 are also profiled. Three major things are

accomplished through this process. First, the leadership behavior gets a high

pedestal that is visible to all. Second, it automatically gives leadership

behavior a high value because you are appreciating someone for it. Third, the

people who are seen doing right things (Top 20) are clearly visible through the

entire company. And since they are people, it sets an example for all others, on

what is it to be a good leader like a great mentor or a great communicator.

The winners are then appointed to lead areas where they have displayed

strength. The other finding is that the winners as well as the top 20 are from

all levels and functions in the company.

Similarly, a well thought out 360-degree process can help managers to get

feedback on their leadership behavior from their peers, supervisor, subordinates

and customers. The key for success would be that the company is able to create

an environment where people are not afraid to give and receive feedback,

specially the areas of improvement. One of the best ways is to make it

confidential and purely developmental and not evaluative (not a part of

performance review) and encourage all managers on improving for the future.

Of course, there are innumerable other ways to develop leadership. Once you

know you want to do something, you would think of something that would work best

for you.

Aadesh Goyal is vice-president, human resources, IT and corporate

communications, Hughes Software Systems. He can be reached at