Source | LinkedIn | Kinjl Choudhary | Senior Vice President Human Resources at Paytm
Over the weekend, I met a distinguished business leader from a well-known organization. He seemed frustrated with the fact that his Board had been hounding him for succession planning of his top team whereas he feels he already has the “right” people to manage the company and take the company forward in the next 10 years. When I asked him what gives him the conviction that he has the right set of leaders to take the company forward in the next decade, his response was that he knew each one of them for more than 15 years and each one of them had grown within the Company and understood the company’s values and culture very well and last but by no means the least, he had undiluted trust on these people. That seemed a pretty convincing answer to me, certainly prima facie, and hence I was curious to understand exactly did he mean by the last qualification of “undiluted trust”. He was a little taken aback by the question as if I was some moron from a different planet who did not understand the term. Nonetheless, simple and down to earth that he is, he explained in detailed what he meant by it – it was people whom he knew very well, knew their families, knew their children, their families knew each other very well, in a nutshell, they were almost like a Hindu Undivided Family as it were. What was left unsaid, but not too difficult to infer, was that there must have been a reciprocity with the members of the Hindu Undivided Family showing their loyalty to the Head of the Family and in return securing his “blessings and goodwill”.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. After all, psychology does say that familiarity breeds liking and not contempt and more familiar your people are, the longer you have known them, the probability of liking them is that much more. The challenge happens when that liking creates a halo effect and the leader almost gets blind sighted to the shortcomings of the same people. Though not easy by any means, but extremely vital nonetheless, is to separate what is good for the leader in the short run versus what is healthy for the organization in the long run. Unfortunately, both may not always coincide. In the short run, it is a no-brainer that the comfort of being surrounded by people whom you have known for years (& in some cases decades) is much more than being challenged by people who you have not known for long and therefore not certain of their “loyalty” towards you even if you are pretty certain of their professional competence.