The participants of INSIGHT 2012 came together for an Alumni Meet on 22nd June 2013 at the Isha Yoga Center. The purpose of the meet was to discuss the impact of their learnings on businesses and self, as well as address any roadblocks they encountered while scaling up. With Sadhguru presiding, the resource leaders included Deepak M Satwalekar, Independent Director, Infosys, and former MD & CEO, HDFC Standard Life Insurance; KV Kamath, Chairman, ICICI Bank, who joined via video conference; ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakar; Vellayan Subbiah, MD, Cholamandalam Investment & Finance; Dilip Cherian, Co-founder, Perfect Relations; Jeby Cherian, Managing Partner, IBM Global Business Services, India & South Asia; and Prof. Shailendra Mehta, IIM, Ahmedabad.

As a part of the INSIGHT Q&A series, this post brings you Sadhguru and KV Kamath’s answer to a question on creating and grooming leaders in an organization.

Questioner: How do we groom the second level leadership to come up the way Mr. Kamath has articulated and indeed has done in his organization very successfully?

KV Kamath: That looks like a straightforward question but it is actually a very complex question in an organizational context. Because most people tend to believe that evaluating a person and grooming a person to get to the next level is an easy task. But you also need to understand that there are so many nuances that come through. How does a leader who is trying to groom somebody or grow several people in an organization understand that he is fair? It comes to setting appropriate goals. Second part is measuring performance, and his performance is only measured on a single metric and that is you have been given a profit objective. I heard one of our participants say he is not profit-minded. But clearly, profit is a measure by which most leaders or managers evaluate subordinates. Is that the only measure that you will have? Will you measure other attributes? How does the person lead, how does the person behave as a team member? How is he with peers, how he is with subordinates, how is he with superiors? What is his emotional quotient? Several times, your goal sheet doesn’t capture more than half of these things.

I would think each manager has to think in terms of at least two layers below. Through the HR process you need to think right down to the entry level, how do you identify and groom talent? And it cannot be one single cell, it has to be multivariant. The tough part is to then be fair in terms of your evaluation and take emotion out of the equation of evaluation. I find that a large majority of managers bring in emotion when they look at all this. That disturbs your evaluation process. We need to be sure that you have taken emotion out.

After emotion is taken out and your evaluation is done comes the even more difficult part in terms of taking that next step – giving feedback. You need to give feedback which is bereft of emotion. I would say ninety-nine percent of the people fail to give proper feedback. You always have a very easy path to say, “I recommended you very highly, but somebody else did not see it that way and stopped it.” So, basically grooming becomes a process whereby you are able to articulate what you expect the person to do, measure the person across various attributes, handhold as necessary, evaluate as appropriate without emotion, give feedback and then see how the person performs as you go along. If you have a set of people and you have done this over a few years, you know who is rising above the others and then you have, across various businesses and layers, people who can get to the next level.


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So, it is a merit-based process. Merit does not necessarily mean a single determinant, and not profit alone for certain. It has to have several attributes of what merit is, and then you basically bring a person or a set of persons up. You then end up developing the organization. It is a continuous process, because you have to look at the person at the entry level also coming out. So it is a process that goes on as long as an organization sustains itself and lives. I would say is like the nervous system of an organization. Once you have done that, your HR team understands that, you understand that and your leaders understand that, you sustain growth in an organization.

Sadhguru: From my experience of people, what I have seen is somebody who is doing great at one level, you pull him up to the next step with all the necessary preparations, but he can bomb so badly because his internal organization does not allow him to function at a different level. Kamath being in banking, maybe they all have similar skills but growing into higher capabilities, but our kind of organization for example, from one level of performance to another is a completely different skill level. What you knew in your previous level just doesn’t fit into this. It needs a completely new human being altogether. There is no easy solution unless you have a certain way of reading people for what they will be tomorrow. What they have been until now may be wonderful, but what are they going to be tomorrow is something that a leader should be able to read.

I know we are getting into mushy ground. You would like three principles with which you can make your judgment. and I am telling you if you have three principles like that, all of them could go wrong. You need something else to figure out a human being. Somebody may not be doing so well in his position, but you give him a leadership position and that guy is suddenly going like a bomb. So when so many operations and investments are involved, maybe you can’t risk it with whatever speaks in your gut, your heart or your head. So I think one of the most important things is a very close observation of human beings – not their performance, not their activity, not what they are doing and not doing. Simply observing how they sit, how they stand, what they do, observing them as a human being is I think a very important aspect before you give them deeper responsibilities. Because when they fall apart or when they do something which is not proper, it is not a question of his career, it is going to affect everything across. And many times it is very difficult to make corrections after a little mess up has been done.

Editor’s Note: INSIGHT: The DNA of Success - A Leadership program with Ratan Tata, Dr. Ram Charan (Top CEO Coach), GV Prasad (Co Chairman & CEO, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd.) with Sadhguru is going to conducted from Nov 27 - 30, 2014 at the Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore.

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