One of the most critical challenges that many organizations face today is how well they develop leaders. Even when organizations embark on their leadership development journey, they either lack the holistic view of their leadership ecosystem or are driven by “off-the-shelf” leadership development curriculum.

In this post, we are glad to interview Dr. Tanvi Gautam on this important topic. Dr. Tanvi Gautam is Managing Partner of Global People Tree where she helps organizations create high engagement work places. She is also on the board of the international Asian Region Training and Development Organization. Dr. Gautam was recently recognized by the Business Manager magazine (India edition) as one of the leading women HR professionals (July 2012). Her initiative #IndiaHRChat is redefining the way people learn in community via Twitter.

[Pearson TalentLens] Tanvi, it is our pleasure interviewing you. The way we work has dramatically changed and requires a different mindset. What changes do you see in ways employees learn at workplace today?


[Dr. Tanvi Gautam] Employees today have to deal with a lot more fluidity and complexity in the environment than any previous generation. Consequently, linear learning models, chalk and talk methods, and techniques that restricted learning to within the boundaries of the firm are on their way out. We can expect co-created, learner directed and experiential learning environments to become the norm. Let me share two examples in which I am involved.

The #indiahrchat community on Twitter is an example of how learning networks are starting to supplement the learning efforts firms are making on their own. The pace and extent at which that community has taken off is a case study in how personal learning networks are here to stay. Also, I work with organizations in helping them adopt corporate storytelling techniques to help onboard the new comers as well as to enable knowledge sharing across the firms. The engagement and entertainment factor along with gamification techniques will continue to become center stage.

[Pearson TalentLens] What according to you are three most critical skill areas required to succeed in a contemporary workplace and how can those be improved?

I recently wrote on this – entrepreneurial mindset, resilience and learning orientation. You can access the link here.

[Pearson TalentLens] Developing leaders still remains one of the key challenges for organizations. How should organizations approach leadership development according to you?

The theories of leadership and the tenets of leadership that we cling to today must be revisited to ensure that they indeed provide us with a new road map to a new destination. An old map will only lead us to a place that does not exist anymore. For instance, the prototype of the one leaders who knows it all is almost an Apollo type figures must end. In this complex age no one has all the answers. Consequently, leadership is not just about developing a person but a network of leadership capabilities within the organization. I would highly recommend that people read Deborah Ancona’s HBR article – In praise of the incomplete leader.

Also you need to approach leadership development as a portfolio of capabilities, some of which you may not realize the importance of till the environment demands it. So therefore, investment in a broad set of capabilities rather than a narrowly focused set is the key.

Another idea organizations need to pay attention to is the confounding of the position with capability when we think about leadership. This has to be replaced by the multi-level model of leadership. The multi-level model of leadership requires that you not only abandon the idea of leadership as only taking place at the top but also to adopt the idea that leadership issues as they manifest themselves at various levels can look very different. The people who are suited to lead others on a one on one level (say through mentoring or role modeling), or provide leadership in a dyadic interaction may not necessarily do well at the team level where interpersonal dynamics, resources and agendas multiply manifold. Similarly those who have the vision and capability of leading teams may lack the global vision and execution capabilities needed for organizational leadership. Yet to say that one level of leadership is more critical than the other (as indeed we are used to saying) is in some ways dismissing the leadership potential of individuals in various capacities within the organization. Those who can lead level may not be able to lead at another level, and yet creating leadership and conceptualizing it as a multilevel phenomena allows for creating a stronger more robust culture of leading and leadership. The presence of strong leadership at each level acts as a network of leadership nodes that ultimately supports the larger objectives of the organization.

[Pearson TalentLens] Thank you for your thoughtful responses and we are pretty sure, readers of this blog will find them very useful in their pursuit to lead better.

[Dr. Tanvi Gautam] My pleasure.