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Leadership

Looking Beyond Bottom-Line



In conversation with Prof. Dr. Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, Welingkar Institute of Management
Development & Research (WeSchool) & President, National HRD Network, Mumbai Chapter, on the
requirement for a new generation of leadership and its implications in the education system

Post downturn, the importance of the role and definition of leadership has evolved. Few of the main
leadership attributes which are prevalent amongst leaders today are visionary, driven by a purpose to
benefit the society at large, innovator with global mindset, leading from the front and by example, value
based, exemplary people skills, integrative thinker, high adversity quotient and high risk appetite,
perpetual optimist, high ability to work through opposing minds, continuous learner and the list goes on.
Todays leaders are required to look within, look around and look beyond. While on one hand, the
leader of today will need to have extreme local sensitivity and take cognizance of the impact of their
actions on the stakeholders, on the other hand, they will also need to have a global mindset to succeed
in an open and dynamic changing environment.
Complexities in businesses have increased and companies are looking beyond their bottom-line and top-
line to include the entire stakeholder community i.e. in addition to investors, customers and employees,
environment, local communities and society too have become an integral part of todays decision-
making process and are important levers for companies success. Leaders will be required to take
responsibility of their decisions and evaluate the impact on each and every stakeholder.
The understanding of the local communities where businesses operate will become increasingly
complex as Indian businesses expand to global markets. Leaders will need to develop sensitivity to
integrate the local nuances in their business modus operandi. Identifying and nurturing talents within
the organization in order to have a leadership pipeline in place is becoming more prevalent in several
successful businesses.
Leaders will also need to take steps toward reducing the imbalance that India is facing as a growing
economy. Companies looking to achieve sustainability have realized that they can no longer work in silos
or in isolation as through inclusive growth, the door to several business opportunities will open such as
new customers, new talent, new markets, new products, et al. Hence, the need of the hour is for a
leader with an innovative focus who can drive this change and contribute to minimize the gaps
prevalent in our society. The concept of More for Less, Conscious Capitalism, Disruptive Innovation
and leveraging on technology will strongly influence the business strategies that leaders adopt. Hence,
leaders will need to look at their business in a holistic way that incorporates these new dimensions in
their strategies and shifts their focus from not just for profit to pursue sustainable development and
inclusive growth.
The implications to this requirement at the business school level are direct. Business schools will play a
very important role in grooming talent with the relevant sensitivities. Students will need to be exposed
to new ways of thinking, integrating more diverse and complex elements, looking at exposing them to a
holistic approach in their analytical abilities and providing understanding of concepts beyond just
bottom-line and top-line to lifeline as well.
To cater to the needs of the Corporate / businesses, B-Schools are introducing innovative programs with
new verticals and offering a curriculum to nurture a research mindset, which promotes integrative
thinking and multidisciplinary approach and produces T Shaped individuals (that is, knowledge on a
specific domain / vertical coupled with an ability to apply knowledge across situations) as well as focus
on social responsibility. The scope of the curriculum will need to expand and incorporate other sciences
and subjects such as anthropology, ethnography, sociology, et al. These changes have already started
and there is a shift from the traditional push method of teaching to a participant centered learning
approach (pull method). I truly believe that these competencies are to be nurtured not only at business
school level but should commence from KG to PG level.
Today, people have started looking at education beyond the mercenary approach of just getting a job or
better pay package. More students are pursuing further education and making career choices which
offer more learning and growth opportunities in the future instead of just pay packages or titles.
Students today have more risk appetite, are more inquisitive, technology friendly, passionate, are
looking for knowledge beyond books and are open to different means of learning with a strong
preference towards practical exposure