Leadership 101 for the EV Industry

December 20, 2022
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December 20, 2022

It is that time of the year again. A time, for organizations and people, to pause and reflect on the year gone by, and to refresh and renew their energies, for the New Year and an exciting future.

As I look ahead, I see interesting and challenging times for India’s young “global” leaders. In a world undergoing rapid, disruptive and discontinuous change, leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to solve the problems of tomorrow with the tools of today!! In our sunrise EV industry, we will not only need to reshape our existing tools, but will also have to equip ourselves with newer and more effective ones, if we wish to lead ourselves and our organizations, successfully, into the brave new world that awaits us.

Some of the key drivers that can transform the changing workplace are:

  • Trust
  • Diversity
  • Influence
  • Collaboration
  • Social media
  • Innovation
  • Mindful leadership.

A CNN/ORC international poll in 2011 found that a dismally low 7 percent of the employees in the United States trust their employers, leaders and managers!! Similarly, subordinates do not generally consider their superiors to be either honest or competent. CEO’s are more highly esteemed in countries like India and China, that can be attributed more to the cultural factor than genuine trust.  

These emerging nations have witnessed unparalleled growth unlike the US and other countries in Europe. However, there is still a huge disconnect that is emerging between business, civil society and the government in many parts of the globe, unlike anything we have seen before.

The most important challenge for the business leaders of tomorrow will be to regain the TRUST of their employees, shareholders, governments and civil society at large. With India investing heavily towards the electric mobility shift, there has been a 108% increase in employment growth and average growth in employee numbers over the last two years in the electric vehicle arena, as quoted by The Economic Times in July 2022 based on a study by CIEL Human Resources. To keep the momentum going and arrest employee attrition in this growing industry, it is critical for employers/ top management of companies to inspire confidence, trust and loyalty in their tribe. Leaders of the future need to demonstrate individual and corporate integrity, which are at the center of a renewal, to enable leaders and corporations to re-engage with their employees, customers and other stake holders, in a stable and mutually beneficial partnership.

As globalization and technology continue to make rapid advances and as companies, including Indian companies, rapidly expand their global footprint, leaders are finding it exceedingly difficult to lead a multicultural and multigenerational work force. The ability of a leader to create an inclusive work environment that celebrates DIVERSITY, and recognize and promote the talents of a variegated workforce of different cultures, ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, religion, caste and ideas, will be a key competitive advantage in a global marketplace.

Traditional organizational structures are dying. Organizations are experiencing more interconnectivity, driven by an expanded flow of information, technology, capital and human resources around the world. The standard pyramid structure with a vertical hierarchy of boxes is fast disappearing and is being replaced by flatter and more matrixed organizations characterized by multi-locational and multifunctional expert teams, rather than the traditional functional and regional office structure. Leaders have to develop an agile mindset to cope with dynamics of flatter organizations and an extremely competitive global market place. In the networked world, hierarchy and position have no meaning. Leaders have to lead through INFLUENCE and COLLABORATION, not for the position they hold, but the person they are.

The American Management Association article “Leading into the future ”, spoke of innovation as one of the top five factors driving leadership challenges. As technological advances continue at a dizzying speed and employees become more educated, companies that don’t innovate will be overrun by companies that do. The article says that leaders must increasingly influence their corporate cultures to make them less resistant to “true INNOVATION”.

Given our environmental challenges, the world over, electric vehicles are the way forward, from a sustainability point of view. Growth in this sector has only augmented over the years and it is therefore imperative for EV companies to focus on every aspect of the EV ecosystem, explore and innovate to stay ahead of the pack. 

A feature in Forbes Magazine, on how SOCIAL MEDIA will change the way we work, says that 73% of Fortune 500 companies were active on Twitter and 80% of the executives believed that social media engagement had led to increased sales. The article also refers to a Mckinsey Research report which showed that a majority of the untapped potential of social technologies lies in “improved collaboration and communications within and across enterprises”. In other words, “social media is poised to become an office productivity tool much the same way email did in the late 1990’s”.

A noticeable lean and shift towards adoption of electric vehicles, as an alternative to fuel emitting transport, was gleaned from the technology and economics related posts across various social media sites by fledgling EV companies in the earlier years and dependency on this platform will only intensify as we go along. 

Social media will hugely impact leadership styles in the coming years. The extent to which leaders of tomorrow will embrace social media and other evolving communications and networking tools will determine how inspiring his leadership style is perceived to be by his employees and customers. Leaders will increasingly use social media to manage and improve productivity of multi-locational teams, real time communication, centralized information sharing, and to brainstorm product ideas.

Finally, I would like to quote from a paper “Leading for the future” written by Prof. Ben Bryant of IMD Lausanne. Prof Bryant says that leadership today is complex, situational and “in the moment”. It is a dynamic interaction between leaders and their contexts, where the best leaders respond to the moment “mindfully”. They seek the answers in their own unconscious and adapt rapidly to situations in the moment.

India is a complex country in the throes of rapid and often painful change. Organizations and their leaders are faced with newer and ever more agonizing trials of their leadership skills and capabilities, every day. The leaders, who will succeed, will not be those who look “outside” for solutions, but those who will increasingly look within themselves as a starting point, to find the answers to the issues that confront them.

Stalwarts in the EV industry here, are steadfastly working on recognizing the impediments faced in propagating the transition to electric mobility within the country and are zealously collaborating with the government and other ancillary industries to mitigate these.

In the words of Prof. Bryant, “MINDFUL LEADERSHIP will help leaders take control of your destiny and influence the outcomes of your team and your organization”

As we stand on the threshold of 2022, may we allow our minds and lives to be transformed in line with the changing times and create a ripple effect to our teams, organization and the broader society around.

Wish you all a very happy and exciting 2023

Anand Pillai is an industry veteran, a Leadership Coach and Organization Transformation Guru whose career of almost 40 years spans across IT & services, Manufacturing and in Leadership & Organization 

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