Recently I was fortunate to be on a 1-to-1 basis with the top guy of a large tech enterprise. Through our brief conversation I happened to ask him a simple question.
“What’s that one thing that you have given maximum consideration to while building your organisation through the years”?
His answer was succinct and precise.
“I’m extra judicious about the selection of my leadership. My leaders must be capable of contributing to the prevailing culture at the organisation rather than taking away from it. It has taken my predecessors, and now me, almost a few decades of unrelenting endeavour towards getting the organisation’s culture to the point of realising the most favourable results. With serious intent, we have forever focused on building a culture imbued with constant design innovation, market competitiveness, product upgradation, and investment in latest technologies, instead of focusing merely on generating profits. Our culture is now the mainstay of the organisation and our large workforce works in unison around these core principles for conducting collectively their business affairs”.
This response left me wondering if General Motors and Nokia would still have been alive if their super bosses had borne a similar mindset for constant innovation. By the same logic, if the leadership at Satyam Computers had really willed to build a culture of strong corporate governance, transparency, and superior internal controls instead of deceit & lies for deriving personal gains, it’s future would have seen a far better fate.
My small conversation with this leader lent an all-important validation to my already prevailing primal principle as a head hunter. Which is that between two prospective candidates with almost similar set of operational capabilities, I must always make a stronger recommendation for the one who promises “Superior Cultural Compatibility”. Every company could benefit from a unique cultural set depending upon its product, market segment, customer demography and the organisation’s life cycle. In complete contrast to any tech company that thrives on constant technological advancements, the world’s oldest wine companies still in existence pride themselves on having maintained their distinctive blend, flavour and taste. They are known for having preserved their age-old formulations and the methods for blending & maturing their wines, to the point of absolute abhorrence for change. That’s being exactly the opposite of a typical tech company.
So, as a head hunter, it becomes my utmost responsibility to map out the minutest details of my client organisation’s culture before I even stroll out to hunt for prospects in leadership positions. When I have known the cultural nuances of my client’s organisation, I find myself in a better position to propose candidatures of only those who would most definitively weave themselves into the “organisation’s cultural fabric”.
Authored By Rakesh Dayani
Director, Outgrow Consulting