Executive Development Through the Lens of India
Dr. Marco Antonio Serrato García
A few days ago, a meeting took place in Mumbai, India, between worldwide leaders in executive training. One of the main conclusions drawn by those of us in attendance, was that India should be viewed as a key benchmark for executive development in the new international dynamics. A major emerging economy, characterized by elements of “chaos” and a rapidly changing marketplace, India serves as an archetype for the challenges facing executives and professionals in the immediate future. To overcome these challenges, however, a new style of leadership is required, and necessary changes must be made to the culture, processes and models of management in our organizations.
In the year 2000, 95% of the world’s largest organizations were located in developed economies. By 2025, almost half will be located in emerging economies. Furthermore, between 2010 and 2025, four hundred and forty cities located in emerging markets will account for almost half of world GDP growth. If executives and organizations are to achieve success in this new global environment, then the characteristics of the new global normalcy in these types of economies should not only be taken into consideration, they should be a focal point. Success in emerging markets will be strategic for any organization and multinational in the near future.
Known as the largest democracy in the world, India is an economic giant that is experiencing rapid growth. It is a nation moving towards the third millennium at great speed, without losing touch with its past and its age-old culture. In a couple of decades, it will be the world’s most populous country, as well as one of its largest economies, with new poles of development such as Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Vadodara, Jaipur, Aurangabad and Nagpur, in addition to those we are already familiar with such as Mumbai or New Delhi. By the year 2030, it will be the country with the largest middle class population, and will account for the highest percentage of global middle class consumption. However, it is also a complex market posing great challenges relating to corruption, employability, uncertainty and extreme bureaucracy, as unfortunately occurs in other emerging economies such as Latin America and Africa. Those very characteristics, along with its scale and dynamism, position India as a benchmark for understanding the new models of management and leadership required of executives and organizations.
Recently, new enterprises have emerged from India such as the telecommunications company “Jio”. While it took Facebook almost a year to reach fifty million users, this organization did it in just three months, despite only having begun operations in September of last year. Today, barely half a year since starting up, more than one hundred million people are using its services. Other similar developments and endeavors have also emerged in the country recently.
The accelerated pace of technology adoption drives rapid innovation in our organizations. And this will be a key feature of emerging markets in the immediate future. These innovations will grow exponentially, beyond our ability to anticipate them. Furthermore, they will grow in spite of uncertainty, nationalism, and changes such as those observed recently all over the world. This presents an enormous challenge as long as we intend to extrapolate our old styles of leadership and our traditional forms and styles of analysis and decision-making. Many assumptions, tendencies and habits, proven to be stable during decades of executive management, are now changing in a rapid and radical way.
In the same way that India as a civilization has adapted and survived various invasions and conquests since its prehistoric origins, the ability to change, rapidly innovate and adapt, without losing our essence, will be key to the success of individuals and organizations. One of the greatest challenges we face, is how to move quickly towards the future, taking with us only those parts of our essence and our past that serve us best.
These changes will take place in new environments, where in order to compete and stand out, the use of technology, data and information will be fundamental. The government of India, for example, has decided to integrate the information held on its population, into a single central system (Aadhaar) that assigns each citizen a unique identifier based on their biometric and demographic data. Through incentives, they have encouraged citizens to open bank accounts and become part of the formal economy. They have also developed innovative platforms such as Paytm (‘Pay through mobile’) to contribute to this objective. This will allow the government to identify, measure and understand the activities of its citizens in order to better serve them. Just as organizations do with their customers and markets, integrating data and information is the first step to developing public policies that truly support and develop individuals and organizations in the new global dynamics.
In spite of its enormous size and complexity, India is changing, and it is doing so rapidly. This shows us that the greatest challenge to triumphing in emerging markets and in the new global dynamics, will be associated with opportune and adequate changes to the leadership, culture and management models in our organizations. We must question our principles and “reinvent ourselves;” especially in those companies that have enjoyed great success to date. Leaders and organizations must watch and learn in order to adjust to this new reality, although we don’t yet fully understand its magnitude and second and third order effects. And this is of fundamental importance in emerging economies such as Mexico and Latin America. Either we do it quickly and effectively, or someone else will beat us to it.