In this edition of #CEOInsights, we have Mr Ravi Valecha, the Chief Executive Officer of India Factoring and Finance Solutions Private Limited. In his conversation with Mr Rahul Mahajan, Country-Lead of Great Manager Awards, he shares his leadership thoughts with us
Rahul: Who have been some of the significant mentors in your life?
Ravi: I look up to my erstwhile managers, starting right from my first job with ICICI Bank, N Sivaramakrishnan, a veteran banker. As a fresher, I did not have a great sense of understanding of the banking sector until I started seeing it from a banker’s point of view than that of a consumer. My previous managers had been quite helpful from all perspectives as I spent a few years under their guidance to build a strong understanding of the banking sector.
In my days with HSBC, I learned about leadership skills from Mr Bhriguraj Singh. He was the head of the department and brought global leadership to the forefront of the organization.
I also learned immensely about people management from my predecessor in the current organization, Sandeep Mathkar.
“It is essential to be humble as a leader while bringing people together on board and accommodate their views to help them move forward.”
Rahul: How would you describe your leadership style? Furthermore, what would be some of the do’s and don’ts when working with you?
Ravi: I prefer empowerment. When a task is given, I expect the people to deliver it in time, abide by the commitment and work independently, but I also encourage them to ask for help when in doubt. So, I believe in building a strong culture that supports empowerment. I trust that in a team, individuals should be empowered enough to make their own decisions.
I would not like to label my leadership style as it depends on the situation which urges me to act and lead the team in a certain way, but I like to make a feasible balance between autocratic and democratic styles of leadership.
Rahul: What would be some of the critical qualities you would look for if you were to find a successor for your role?
Ravi: To assess correctly, I would split qualities into two types- functional and non-functional qualities. The functional part should include qualities related to the expertise of the individual which aid the system while the non-functional part serves as constraints or restrictions on the design of the system.
I would say that the most important quality I would consider is adaptability. I would also assess the decision-making capabilities and see how quickly the individual is able to make decisions in this VUCA environment. However, a fast decision-making process should not lead to rash decisions but a balanced and weighted decision-making process.
“Discretion is the most important aspect because the information overload is so much that you can easily get lost in a labyrinth of information that you have.”
Also, I would seek a people-centric person who understands human values and is goal-oriented.
Rahul: What is the most common piece of advice you find yourself giving to the Gen Z entering the corporate world?
Ravi: What I see is that the younger generation is loaded with a lot of information from many backgrounds. Therefore, rational decision-making is critical for them to learn and they should get used to it in their daily routines.
“To know about something is a small part of knowledge, while how you apply it in real life proves your knowledge and ability to move forward.’
So, I would suggest that they see the bigger picture when making any decision, learn and respond rationally by weighing the pros and cons.
Rahul: What are some of the leadership qualities that have helped you over the past year of COVID?
Ravi: We always talk about the “vision or mission” statement and other such things, but how much we execute these is what matters the most. This is something I realized now in hindsight.
“I suggest that if you have a goal in your mind, pen it down on paper. Work towards your goal, reaffirm it every day, every moment, be accountable for it and share your progress with your stakeholders and then celebrate if you achieve it”.
The key to leadership is execution of goals than merely defining those. You will realize that when you have decided your personal goals and achievements, you will make better progress in your life. As I learned this, my team has also realized the same and we are doing wonders together.
Rahul: What is your approach to defining the vision and cascading it down to your employees, making sure they are aligned to it?
Ravi: Effective communication helps the team to contribute to the organization while having a collective vision. It is futile to have a vision in mind without an execution plan as it will not lead to the desired results; you have to walk the talk.
When you create a vision, it comes with specific terms and conditions, and it relies on the amount of energy the team members bring to the table. The energy and level of confidence one brings to the discussions helps decide better upon what is achievable and what is not. I observed that such energy and enthusiasm are also transferrable to other team members and drive passion within teams.
“You have to walk the talk because when the team sees you as a leader, it imitates you as their role model.”
The team always get inspired from a methodical and detail-oriented approach of a leader to make decisions. So as a leader, you are being looked up to in all aspects. And that is something that drives me, and that is what I would push across to my teams.
Rahul: What according to you is the most critical quality or competency for a Great Manager?
Ravi: One trait I would consider in a Great Manager is emotional maturity, which calls for the ability to stand firm and handle challenging situations with a calm mind and humble heart.
“Beyond a certain point, just delivering on your objectives will not lead you to the highest leadership level; it is the emotional maturity you bring to the table that proves your leadership.”
Emotional maturity again requires rationality and balanced decision-making because, as a leader, you have to look at possibly all the aspects, that is, a 360-degree view. So, you have to incorporate a holistic way of problem-solving.
“Maturity does not come with age; it comes from exposure and experience which acts as a fuel to the aspiration and energy of a Great Manager to drive an organization towards success.”
Here you will find more details on the Great Manager Awards