Managers had to reinvent themselves to function on the disruption created by the Covid pandemic. With so much volatility and uncertainty, another facet was added to a manager’s responsibility of being able to manage in turbulent times. R Gopalakrishnan, Corporate Advisor, The Mindworks and Author gave valuable insights about how those who can handle “what if” situations, those who can unlearn things and those who learn to explore while exploiting will be the “managers of the future” when it comes to handling turbulence, at AIMA’s Premiere Session of Management Café.
The economic crisis of a couple of years had inflicted a lot of damage on business in general. But these crises also provided lessons for reviving business strategy and technology. With the passage of time, organisations found ways to recover, and in the process management structures and processes changed significantly. Managers had to reinvent themselves to function amid the widespread disruption created by the Covid pandemic. With so much volatility and uncertainty, another facet that is added to a manager’s responsibility is being able to manage in turbulent times.
A veteran of Indian Management, having led some iconic brands, a prolific writer and speaker on management issues in India, R Gopalakrishnan, Corporate Advisor, The Mindworks and Author gave valuable insights on how to manage during tumultuous times on the topic- ‘Lessons from Managing Turbulent Times’ at AIMA’s Premiere Session of Management Café.
From a Manager’s perspective, the task of managing become extremely unsettling during the Covid pandemic. They had to be in touch with the government for everyday activities. Taking decisions on half-baked information was the biggest challenge for managers. So what was a narrative for a Manager to go by for adapting to turbulence and managing well? Taking an off-handed approach to the subject of managing in turbulent times, R Gopalakrishnan said that the subject is almost banal and hackneyed. However, alluding to the pandemic and the technological disruption that it brought about, he said that under turbulent circumstances “we need a different kind of leader”. In the history of management, earlier people with high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and high EQ (Emotional Quotient) were preferred. But the Managers of today must have “high IQ, high EQ and High AQ, which means Adaptability Quotient”.
The three things to assess AQ are-
- Ask a What If Question (what if tomorrow was an earthquake or your factory caught fire). The cleverness of the answer should be overlooked for a person’s adaptability ideas.
- Ask them about what did you unlearn in the last one year.
- Ask them about do they explore or exploit, when they work. We need those who explore.
Those who can handle what if situations, those who can unlearn things and those who learn to explore while exploiting are the “AQ characters and we need AQ leaders in the future” R Gopalakrishnan coined. He further added that it is the unpredictability that causes turbulence. So, in that case, how should leaders handle the turbulence also talks about their efficacy.
Predictable problems share certain characteristics and there are three things involved in it-
- The leaders know of the problem, know that it is not solvable and it is worsening over time.
- The leaders know that it is very costly to fix the problem.
- The leaders know of the problem but they face resistance from those affected.
Hence we ignore the predictable problems, which very soon become unpredictable.
So, how do leaders address the turbulences then? R Gopalakrishnan said that it is a common belief that turbulence is unique to this age, but turbulence was always there. History tells us that in every century, people found the pace of change blistering. India has gone through a partition and there cannot be a bigger uncertainty than that, as people didn’t have revenue, they had no idea where the books of accounts were and they didn’t know where they were going. For what leadership had to go through at that time, the Covid pandemic looks like a cakewalk. Turbulence is a very old companion of mankind. We procrastinate solving the turbulence and that’s why never have a Plan A or a Plan C to face it.
The Covid pandemic has taught us to protect and leverage. The people protected themselves with masks and vaccinations to contain it and companies leveraged new strategies and ideas. Citing the reason that he preferred the word “immunisation” to “protection” he shared ways of immunising companies from turbulences. Making an analogy of the human body, he said that there are maladies that are visible and can be taken care of, but there are those which don’t meet the eye, and they have to be treated well. The vaccination in this case is “People Power”. Companies that have given utmost importance to People Power and have cultivated and leveraged, have always survived.
Finally, R Gopalakrishnan “chose” to close his deliberation on managing turbulence by saying, “Leaders should learn to listen, show their empathy and not hide their vulnerability”.
Watch the full session- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp_lhrqY9Ng