Leadership for Transformation


Leadership style has been a matter of debate for a long. During the last review meeting, Rohit, a star performer expressed his apprehension for loss of sales and suggested to take the opinion of the sales team before launching the new product portfolio, but CEO was firm on his stand to launch it, as it was required to transform the organization and achieve the financial objectives.

Rohit was not convinced with the vision of the CEO and continued to express his views in informal discussions in his circles. The news of Rohit’s continued disagreement reached the ears of the CEO. As a consequence, he was transferred to the planning cell, considered to be a staff position.

People gathered around Rohit at the lunch table and termed the CEO as autocratic with no concern for others’ views. Atul, the CMO joined the discussions and agreed that the democratic or participative style of leadership is generally believed to be better than the autocratic style, but the successful leadership style cannot be scanned through the lens of democratic or autocratic, more so when the business is required to transform.

He explained that after successfully running a business for a certain period, a company may realize that it could no longer grow with its traditional offerings only and needs to diversify. The leadership gets the pulse of the customers and may realize that they wanted to explore better, more relevant offerings. In such a scenario, the leadership has to think out of traditional boundaries and come up with innovative, more relevant options for the customers. It may be the addition/ dropping of products, the addition of new features in existing products, a change in price positioning, restructuring logistics, or coming up with new communication strategies.

Atul emphasized that while striving for the transformation of business, the team is needed to be realigned to ensure unwavering support to the vision of the leadership having higher and newer goals. The wholehearted support of the team is required to implement such decisions but a purely democratic style of leadership does not work in such cases, especially in large established organizations where people have a great affinity to existing products, brands, people, culture, and values.

The leadership is required to have the courage to make bold decisions, the competence to execute the plans, the ability to communicate the goals, consistency in approach, and a strong ethical framework to guide all their actions. In such a case, the integration of democratic and autocratic styles of functioning is required to achieve the objectives of transformation and take the organization to greater heights of success.

Do you agree with Atul or you have a  different take on this?