Friday, February 22, 2013

How does the leadership in SMEs need to think!

Recently we had the opportunity of being invited to the 4 day exhibition organised by ACMA (Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India) at the Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Our intention was distinct, that we would do a survey of this vertical to find out how these organisations were now being driven. The last such interface was way back in 2002 with our clients JCBL situated at Lalru (Distt. Patiala, Punjab) which today stands out as a name to reckon with, in the bus body industry. An exact space of ten years had lapsed! We felt quite ignorant and left behind, although time and again we did connect with this world indirectly through other clients such as Eastman Industries. Amazingly, when we started interacting with people in most of these company sponsored stalls, we found that they were still being manned by the 'bosses' themselves. The front face of these organisations were still the owners and promoters even after a good ten years' period. 
Evidently there was one paradigm shift in the approach. Most of them were part of a global supply chain and therefore very conscious about competition and its threats. However, 'change'  was still an alien word. A passionate yearning prevailed amongst most of them, a yearning to be the frontrunners, but how would they ever do that? Words such as adaptability and innovative thinking left their jaws open, for a while, but they seemed to quickly revert to the belief...well everything boils down to profits! More the profits, the merrier the situation would be. There were a small number who desired to know how things could be improved and another very few who craved for hand-holding.
Essentially the leadership attributes need to be different for this segment. What immediately comes to my mind is a person who is prodigiously perceptive! 
Perceptiveness would keep his bearings in tact and make him a contemporary person. Unless a person is perceptive, he would not be alert and aware of, how his industry was responding to new benchmarks and practices and what his organisation needed to catch up with. (Else he would continue to 'securely' believe that all he needed to build on, was his profitability!) This realisation would push him towards becoming a visionary. 
He is on the one hand beleaguered with the anxiety that organisations of the same stature were moving ahead in terms of positioning themselves and that the competition was thwarting his organisation behind the others, while on the other, watching the others, his dream was becoming clearer - that his organisation needed to act as the harbinger in the field, his organisation was destined to master. Therefore he builds an intention to foresee and desire to see his organisation attain achievable heights. The dream that he sees or visualises is his vision and eventually he habitually begins 'dreaming'. That is when he begins to become a visionary!
Another implied but essential trait that this leader needs to air is the empathy factor - not only feel the emotions of his team mates but also channelise those emotions to align with his own, those derived from his own vision about the organisation. He has to recapture and amalgamate them, ensuring a die-hard proactive approach. Yes! He has to spend time on this by whatever means.
A combination and consistent evaluation and absorption of the few deliberations expressed here, would transmute our SME sector leader into a passionate contemporary businessman. His path is now laid out!