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Disruptive leadership style for a disruptive business environment


Posted by: Niranjan Nadkarni Date: 03 Oct 2021

Disruption driven by technology, competition, innovation, consumers and other business factors has always created uncertainties and volatile business conditions, making it imperative for leaders to manage or drive change to ensure business success. I always believed and have experienced that at any ‘change point’ – I call it the ‘Tipping point’ – the leader needs to disrupt his or her existing style of leadership, to stay relevant to an organisation’s evolving need and to navigate people through the changes seamlessly.

Though the disruptive leadership style today, is mostly spoken in the context of technology driven disruption, I believe that for a leader to be successful and tread the organisation through the various stages of its life-cycle, it is important that the leader sees disruption as an opportunity and embrace the changes it brings.

A decade ago, I took over the role of CEO for the South Asia region. My predecessor, Ishan, had handed over a region with a strong foundation - talent, product portfolio, investments and a culture to support profitable growth. My role as a leader was to ensure teams were aligned to a common goal and had absolute clarity in order to achieve targets, bottom line and operational efficiencies, while maintaining the culture that needed utmost attention as the size of the team and business grew.

The next phase of growth needed me to change my management style from top-down to a bottom-up approach. The region needed restructuring, redesigning of its business model, introduction of new services, geographical expansion, diversified talent bank and a culture of creating & cultivating more leaders.

The business requirements at these points, demanded that I change my leadership style to achieve growth that was sustainable and profitable & adds stability.

In 2017, I got an opportunity to lead a larger region comprising of sub regions: ASEAN, South Asia, Middle East and Africa (ASMEA). My leadership style needed to address diverse culture, different management styles & thinking, socio-economic conditions and other aspects. This change was also followed by the announcement of organisation’s strategy 2025 which focused on digital transformation.

These changes were a profound paradigm shift: redefining company’s strategy, structure, culture and processes. It was imperative to drive the change successfully by designing specific interventions and providing clear directions so that the employees ‘own’ the transformation journey. That’s when the region embraced the 6 guiding principles that are aligned to the global vision and mission & were based on interdependencies to drive efficiency and effectiveness.

In the last ten years, I have disrupted my leadership style thrice to manage changes. With shortened ‘change cycles’ I envisage a leader will now need to disrupt and reinvent his / her leadership style more frequently and address far more complex situations to ensure the life-cycle of the organisation witnesses the desired elevation and drive in innovation.

Decades of experience at various leadership roles tell me, that the ability of the leader to learn, unlearn and relearn is crucial to tread through changes and lead others to the desired goal while cultivating them for the future roles.

You just need to identify that ‘Tipping point’ and enjoy the disruption.







Author: Mr. Niranjan Nadkarni, CEO - ASEAN, South Asia, Middle East & Africa Region, TÜV SÜD.

Click here to read more articles by Mr. Niranjan Nadkarni. 

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