Defining Corporate Culture through Transformational Leadership

Businesses need to review whether they want a highly-structured autocratic organisation where few direct the masses or a transformative organisation where all members are empowered to contribute

Published: Sep 26, 2012

As India continues to grow globally, the youth and professionals are getting exposed to varied and modern styles of management. To be relevant to the present and future generations, it is time for the current corporate leadership to redefine what is needed for the future. ‘Culture’ is an important element in defining this journey of transformation.

Culture has a huge impact on leadership. While the principles of transformational leadership are common universally, a leader who wishes to become transformational needs to act in alignment with cultural beliefs, in order to remain effective. Indian culture places high importance on hierarchy, inter-personal relationships and non-confrontational approach to life. This is reflected in the professional dynamics of the corporate culture, which is an outcome of several centuries of evolution and the conditioning of people. A leader needs to consider these aspects when envisaging change.

Kumar Parakala- is the KPMG, COO for advisory in India
Kumar Parakala- is the KPMG, COO for advisory in India
What is the ‘need of the hour’?
Today, businesses need to review and debate whether they want a highly-structured autocratic organisation where few direct the masses, or a vibrant and transformative organisation where all members are empowered to think and contribute. To get to the latter, delegation through trust and empowerment of organisational power base is crucial. In recent times, the equation has vastly changed as organisations are adopting a decentralised approach to empower and delegate more to their teams. This change in leadership style would require a transformation in the leaders’ thinking, by embracing new ways of managing people and redefining their approach, before others follow suit.

After all, successful organisations are a reflection of a leader who is open and honest in his/her communication, utilises strengths smartly and addresses the weaknesses by staying on the path of learning and adapting to changes each day. Such transformational leaders continually endeavour to improve their organisation by taking every single employee into consideration and ‘listening’ to their ‘voice’.

How does this benefit us?
Many transformative leaders who recognised the importance of empowered teams have helped their organisations flourish both in the local and global marketplace. There is growing evidence, particularly in new industries that companies are shifting from centralisation to decentralisation of organisations, as they delegate and empower their people more. Simply defined, delegation or empowerment of authority means a conscious and systematic effort to bring dispersal of decision-making power to the lower levels of the organisation. In decentralisation, only broad powers such as the power to plan, direct and control rest at the top. Decentralisation through empowerment is a natural and necessary development when teams grow large and complex, and are spread across geographies and locations.

If done well, effective empowerment yields innumerable benefits to the organisation and the teams that operate within them. There are three significant benefits that directly contribute to an organisation’s growth. First, it forces organisations to hire transformative leaders who can think and run teams on their own and achieve goals, without direction and control from the top, creating a more productive and robust business. Second, empowered teams can foster innovation and enable organisations to expand into new products and services. Third, organisations tend to mitigate the risks of excessive dependence on a very small group of senior people as decision-making is decentralised and organisations have the collective wisdom of all groups who can contribute.

India has one of the most intelligent workforces that has excelled for its quality of service and professionalism and has enabled creation of companies that are considered global leaders, particularly in the IT industry. There is no doubt that through transformational leadership and optimal leverage of our talent, we can create global leaders in all industries.

Kumar Parakala- is the KPMG, COO for advisory in India. This is the second of his blogposts on Transformational Leadership, as part of Forbes India Leadership Awards.


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