Credible Leadership and Management: A Quality Imperative in a Time of Crisis: BFSI Sector
‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples’-
Good leadership qualities and behaviour motivate all followers to give their best and achieve their highest goals, no matter what the conditions. Being under the wing of good leadership is essential for one’s journey of professional growth.
Credible leadership and management are the vital founding pillars of a strong and sturdy organization. And when times get tough, it is all the more valuable to have dependable leaders who are effectively able to stimulate everyone to put their best foot forward and in turn help their organization sail through storms.
Research on BFSI Sector & Importance of Good Leadership
Great Place to Work® studies the work culture of over 1000 organizations in India every year, based on their global framework. After studying the work culture of over 80 organizations in the (Banking,Finance and Insurance) BFSI sector last year, we found that work culture and successful business performance at India’s Best Workplaces in BFSI Sector 2020 is driven by Credible and Good Leadership quality and behaviour.
This analysis was done based on the feedback of the employees of BFSI Sector organizations and a holistic evaluation of their HR initiatives & practices. After an in-depth assessment of these parameters, Great Place to Work® also recognized the Top 25 organizations in the BFSI sector, among participants.
Difficult Times for the BFSI Sector & Challenge for Able Leadership
While financial literacy and technology penetration have been the evident challenges of India’s BFSI Sector, in the light of recent fiascos in the financial industry, the credibility of financial organizations has emerged as a business challenge too. With grave mistrust incidents across public as well as private sector institutions, potential consumers are being further driven away from trusting organizations. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic is staging risk of global market slump and making it a challenge much tougher to bounce back from.
Needless to say, organizations that maintain a culture of trust with not just their external but also internal customers and are backed by steady leadership and management, are more likely to rise above challenges and outdo their counterparts in doing so.
Good Leadership is a Crucial Quality for Enduring Challenging Times
Our research shows that the Best Workplaces in the BFSI sector inculcate organizational values and ethics by projecting these through their good leadership behaviour. Employees experience High-Trust at these workplaces and look up to their leadership and management for guidance and excellence. Management demonstrates the same by delivering on promises, ensuring effective communication across the hierarchy and by being approachable. The Best Workplaces in BFSI experience higher positive leverage on these parameters as compared to the rest of the workplaces.
Few of the good leadership qualities are being Credible, Competent and Ethical. Such leadership and management at the top inspires everyone to give their best and prevents occurrence of unethical behaviour or business malpractices.
Example: Fireside Chat at Mahindra Insurance Brokers
Fireside Chat with the leadership and management at MIBL is organized by the employees and is a learning session for the group. In this meeting, the leaders talk about their journeys, lessons and inspirations so that employees can gain from their rich and varied knowledge, promoting righteous leadership behaviour.
Leadership Behaviour that Demonstrates Credibility: An Example from BFSI Sector
A Credible Leader or management at the helm of the organization aligns everyone with the mission and vision of the organization that helps not only drive business growth but also sustain the same in difficult times like recession, force majeure, pandemics, etc. In times of uncertainty, employees find comfort when they have faith in the leadership and management’s capability to direct the organization towards a successful future.
The vision and drive of good leadership are further aided by the People Practices implemented at these Best Workplaces.
One such example is Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services, one of the Top organizations recognized in the BFSI sector.
M Advocates at Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services
A socio-advocacy platform called M Advocates has been developed by the organization. The employees are identified as Mahindra’s brand ambassador on this platform and are given access to a socio advocacy app. This app is linked to their personal social media accounts. These employees thus get a chance to go through a feed and choose any aspect about Mahindra that they can advocate.
Organizations practice region-level interventions to further strengthen the values alignment among the employees. This is essential as it acts as a motivating factor for employees to give discretionary efforts in times of crisis because of how inspired and proud they feel to be a part of the organization.
The Great Place to Work® Assessment, being wholesome in its approach, goes a long way in helping participating organizations identify the alignment of various regions or departments on the overall organizational experience. The process with its robust evaluation methodology, also provides the top areas of strengths and improvements vis-à-vis employee experience.
Consistency across the Hierarchy in Management
A key highlight of Great Place to Work®’s Research was that at the Best Workplaces in the BFSI Sector, perception of the Leadership and Management’s integrity was consistent across the hierarchy.
To study the extent of success that good leadership behaviour achieves in establishing credibility across all levels in the organization, employee perception was broken down into 4 levels – Senior Managerial, Managerial, Supervisory & Below Supervisory.
Effective Communication, a Crucial Attribute for Effective Leadership and Management:
At the Best BFSI sector Workplaces, communication on business-critical information is efficiently disseminated. In fact, when compared with expectation setting, the perception is similar which indicates that goal cascading is taken as an important business success parameter. Perception on the same parameter in the rest of the workplaces is rated relatively lower, right from the top to the bottom. This shows that at Great Workplaces, the leadership and management understand the importance of effective communication and follow it with sincerity.
A similar pattern is observed where expectation setting weakens top-down in the rest of the workplaces. The widening gap at each level for Best vs Rest is also evident.
Not only Top-Down, but Bottom-Up communication at the Best Workplaces is also perceived as highly positive and is consistent throughout the organization. It essentially motivates employees at all levels to share their feedback and ideas which can help the organization and management grow. Relatively poor perception and inconsistency again become a challenge for the rest of the organizations. The Best Workplaces clearly excel in ensuring the credibility of leadership and management is visible and well demonstrated across all levels of organizational hierarchy – a trait that enables them to leverage a High Trust culture to inspire their people to deliver on High Performance.
Example: #SeeItSayItSortIt at IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company Ltd.
The initiative #seeitsayitsortit was launched as a campaign to provide a platform for employees to call out any processes or practices that can be introduced or revised such that the organization benefits from it. This democratic initiative has helped IndiaFirst instil the belief that they are truly responsible and empowered for their respective piece in the overall organizational framework.
To sum it up, it is safe to say that a prerequisite to enduring difficult times is the presence of a strong and effective leadership and management in the organization. And good leadership behaviour should be such that it depicts delivering on promises, effective communication across the hierarchy and being approachable as key attributes of building trust.
-Great Place to Work® India