SPECTRA 2021: Leading through Change

Leading through change leads to defining new expectations, behaviours, and the commitment needed from people. And, when leading others through transitions, leaders definitely set new directions. At the same time, they also share a compelling vision of the future, so that stakeholders can come face-to-face with the possibilities and what success looks like.

“Leading through change” was the cornerstone of the conversation between Andy Polansky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, IPG DXTRA and Arun Sudhaman, Provoke Media.

So much has changed, expectations have shifted and leading this change is what leaders are expected to do said Sudhaman and Polansky was in agreement saying “there’s no playbook for this type of pandemic”. No one could have imagined how quickly we had to adapt and, what is striking is the way the people in this business supported each other, including clients.

Revealing how much he has changed as a leader, for many years his style of leadership and management was to travel around the world, which he did over last two decades. Now he had to switch focus, but he misses the “human touch”.  And, did he foresee a fully virtual future? The model may look different, depending on the business but employee expectations have changed and they are looking for flexibility, outlined Polansky and added that when you go through turbulent times, companies will emerge as leaders, who have figured out new ways of doing business and supporting their people.

Changing expectations

With the emergence of new expectations how will you navigate through these different expectations? Surveys are being done to track changed circumstances, with people doing the balancing act at home. You must ask what’s the employer brand which is going to drive success? “We have to stay focused on the macro issue – how to attract talent,” he elucidated.

The talent market – did it bring opportunities for businesses? Recalling that earlier there was an emphasis on geography and being close to the client, but today, the world has changed dramatically and where the best talent may live is less important. “We’re trying to figure it out, as we go through this period,” he admitted. WFH work mode did also throw up mental issues. Sudhaman was curious how these were handled. People have gone through so much, and empathy is critical here observed Polansky and called attention to the fact we have to appreciate what is important for people, what is going to make them happy – just be an active listener was his advice.

Putting across the point that people are looking at their lives, he illuminated the point that there are opportunities here for if you build the right culture in the organization, you can track the best talent. It’s been almost two years and some people have not worked in an office and don’t know what they are missing, but that will be energising for the business.

Times have been changing

The times have been challenging, but Polansky mentioned that the PR business has been incredibly resilient, when you look at corporate affairs, crisis, employee engagement, and healthcare. And, was this surprising? “It’s not all that surprising, given the nature of counsel and advice we provide,” he confirmed and added that they are held in much more regard. Policy and public affairs, a focus in India will open up a new terrain for PR practitioners. As far as change in clients went, he saw a shift from marketing-oriented programmes to a focus on corporate issues. To which Sudhaman added – “Corporate has become fashionable again”.

Let’s talk about growth and coming out of 2021. Polansky exposed that their philosophy has been to look for interesting ways to bring in capabilities that is going to relate to a particular kind of expertise; and to bring about more dimensions and their biggest focus is on their clients to grow businesses organically.

So, does this mean a push for change across the world, apart from US and UK? Did he see a shift – from an aggressive personality-driven CEO to empathy? “The celebrity CEO has taken a backseat,” was Polansky’s final word.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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