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The creative, ambitious and result-oriented breed of go-getters are facing corporate challenges head-on and paving the way forward for India Inc. Experts discuss what it takes to become a Gen Y leader
Coffee Day and FLAME (Foundation for Liberal And Management Education) have introduced the 'Scholar Hunt' Programme, a unique scholarship opportunity for students seeking under-graduate and post-graduate programmes in several fields. The scholarship aims to help students accomplish their professional and leadership goals in life. Professor Indira J. Parikh, founder, president, FLAME says, "There are several bright young aspirants in India who seek higher education but lack the means to achieve their goals. With these scholarships, we aim to provide individuals with the right education and prepare them not only for their careers, but also ensure an all-round personality development that will mould them into becoming leaders." One of the best qualities of Generation Y is that they understand the matrix of being a key influencer and expect accountability from those who are around them. They are an 'aware generation' and believe in knowledge-sharing through social media.
Gen Y - ready for leadership?
A large part of the workforce today comprises of young professionals in their mid to late twenties who co exist in a world of globalisation. They are aspiring, tech-savvy and have high expectations from life, and engaging them is a priority for most organisations. One of the best means to achieve this is to nurture these young leaders and help them grow through varied exposure at the workplace. Ravi Shankar, senior vice president, human resources, HCL Technologies states, "Gen Y has a natural disposition for leadership as this generation essentially seeks autonomy and control in the professional sphere. Also, people belonging to this generation are willing to be accountable and link their actions with the macro-organisational picture - traits that undoubtedly stand them in good stead as far as leadership is concerned."
Know more about a Gen Y leader
A Gen Y leader places an overriding premium on teamwork. He/she focuses on team work and motivational strategies to influence others. A Gen Y leader also emphasises the value of retaining one's independence while working in a team for a mutual goal. They accord recognition to individual team members (that they are leading) while synergising the group effort to achieve the desired output/outcome. In other words, Gen Y leaders encourage independent thinking as far as individual employees are concerned and thereby, allow space for creativity and innovation to flourish in the organisation.
Adding further to this, Jayesh Pandey, partner and head of organisation effectiveness, Accenture India says, "We have a generation of go-getters who believe in changing the rules of the game. Gen Y is ready to challenge, is bold and outspoken. They believe in their work and look to provide a worthwhile contribution in the work they do. They always look for synchronisation in their teams and thus, bring in a fresh perspective on leadership."
For a better tomorrow
Intuit has always supported the spirit of Gen Y leadership and the employees have showcased an exemplary leadership example through 'Fasal'. Fasal was started as a research project in 2008 comprising two engineers and a manager who travelled in rural Karnataka and observed many pain points in rural India. The team spent long days at farms and homes to observe how farmers do business. Based on the observations, the team came up with a service that provides near real-time market price information to farmers over SMS. Farmers can subscribe to the Fasal service and get market prices in their preferred local language for various commodities of interest.
Some of the innovative leadership development programmes at IBM include Corporate Service Corps (CSC), Global Enablement Teams (GET), Basic Blue for IBM Leaders, the Accelerate Executive Leaders (AccEL) among others. IBM's CSC programme places high-potential employees on projects helping government, non-profit and NGOs in emerging countries to develop specific plans for addressing some of their most pressing societal needs. "Over the years, this programme has helped us build leaders with a global mindset capable of improving the quality of life for themselves and their communities. Besides this, we also offer mentoring programmes, which address the transfer of critical skills and expertise and are also beneficial in identifying new leaders," notes Sukanya Choudhury, business and technical leadership - India Lead, IBM India.
"In terms of grooming future leaders, we are in the process of nurturing a group of high potential leaders in a fast track global leadership programme. This means some people with even less than five years of work experience can aspire to be directors in the next 10 years or so," says Dayanand Allapur, head HR, Tesco HSC.
Some basic tenets of a leader are not likely to change. Leaders will need to be agile with the wisdom of grey hair, the passion of the very young and the vision of the sages. And a Gen Y leader will question existing paradigms, be more open to taking on new frontiers and will be extremely tech-savvy.
- Sheetal Srivastava