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Talent implications of banking sector in India

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Amogh Deshmukh, DDIAmogh Deshmukh, Member, Key Leadership Team, DDI India elaborates on emerging opportunities in the banking domain and a range of programmes initiated by Union Government to bring citizens under the ambit of banking services.

India has managed to keep it tryst with destiny and emerged amongst the fastest growing economies in the world even in turbulent times is no mean feat.

At the forefront of this sustained growth has been the India’s BFSI sector that has matured and evolved considerably since Indira Gandhi nationalised banks in 1969. The number of bank branches has gone up from 8,000 in 1969 to over a lakh branches today – a staggering 1,250 per cent growth.

Post liberalisation era witnessed several private banks and insurance companies not only set up operations but also chased growth aggressively. Add to this equation the policy push that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has provided to bring the citizens from the farthest places under the ambit of banking through ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ and other such schemes. India with a population of more than a billion and rising per capita income provides an enormous opportunity for the BFSI companies to expand.

Leveraging this opportunity and exploiting the policy push will need leaders who can demonstrate a ‘Big Picture’ vision without losing focus from flawless execution.

DDI analysed the assessment data of senior leaders from BFSI Industry in India with a view to identify the trends in areas of strengths and developments.

There certainly exist clear patterns

Indian BFSI leaders demonstrated a clear passion to drive for results and demonstrated adeptness in making decisions. Given the scale of operations it is not surprising that these leaders demonstrated a developed ability to manage large teams.

However, the paradox here is that while these leaders did demonstrate an ability to manage teams; building a culture of continuous learning & development, coaching & building talent within the organisation remains an area where leaders may need some help. Leaders appeared quite proficient in their abilities in influencing, adaptability and cultivating networks.

They averaged quite well when it came to Execution Abilities. No matter how much thoughts and planning has gone in, without this ability, everything is a waste of time and effort. They also seemed quite proficient in Establishing Strategic Direction. Given the size of these companies, this competency is of great significance and the Leaders did fare impressively here.

But there are several aspects that need improvement in our leadership style.

I prefer to call them as ‘Developmental Areas’. Unfortunately the most important aspect of any business gets the last seat – The Customer.

Our analysis highlights that Customer Focus has been an area of concern for managers across companies.

The challenge of deep understanding of the customer looms on the heads of today’s leaders. An entrepreneur running a small store gives great importance to the customer. He knows what the customer preferences are like. He knows what product the customer has tried last time and now what product to pitch him based on his liking and preferences. He goes to the extent of knowing the customer’s family so that he can pitch products, do a higher business, and keep the customer happy and give him a sense of importance. This comes across as a big derailer in the BFSI Industry and needs immediate attention.

As sizes of operations are increasing the customer centricity seems to be a casualty. In today’s world of technological enhancements, all this can be addressed using tools like data mining and the sales force could be equipped to be customer centric. I would love to see this sea-change in this industry.

Another area of improvement is Building Organisational Talent.  As Jack Welch famously said “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” As mentioned earlier, since the leaders lack in Coaching and Mentoring abilities, the Talent Pool doesn’t get developed and this in turn does not get high quality results when it comes to performance of the team. Similarly, the leaders seemed to be struggling with Business related competencies which are long term in nature. They lacked Global Acumen and also ranked low when it came to being Business Savvy.

Some of the challenges these leaders were facing were quite common in nature. Almost all had a high level of Arrogance in the personality profile. Arrogance limits your ability to accept new things or accept suggestions. This affects the team, and in turn, affects the business.

Similarly, Impulsiveness was also a challenge that could be highlighted amongst a high number of leaders. Impulsiveness could be very fatal to the company and many-a-times, the decisions made impulsively are not necessarily right, and may be irreversible resulting in irrevocable losses. This can totally jeopardise the position of the company. When it came to Interpersonal Skills, these managers tipped the scale on the lower side. This directly impairs their ability to motivate, engage and take along others.

It is not my intent to be the harbinger of bad news alone therefore I am happy to share the positive attributes that leaders showed. These leaders were highly ambitious and demonstrated a drive to grow. Together with high inquisitiveness and learning orientation this helps them propel in their career very rapidly.

The best investment that BFSI sector can make today considering the impact on ROI, sustainability and growth is in investing in developing its leaders. BFSI sector will benefit from any investment it makes in helping its leaders leverage their strength in execution and develop an ability to coach and develop others.

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