Via ET Retail : Finding leaders who understand and appreciate technology and can learn new business models is difficult.
The dynamics of the workplace in India are changing rapidly across sectors, not just in e-commerce. Rapid growth, globalisation and increasing entrepreneurship in the country are transforming organisation structures, people practices, work culture and, most critically, people’s expectations from their employers.Across all sectors, we continue to face a dearth in leadership talent. Good, effective and impactful leaders are hard to come by .
The dynamic nature of the e-commerce business itself, changes in consumer behaviour, and shifts in technology all make it crucial to have leaders who are ready to face any scenario and are able to steer the ship successfully when the need arises. A challenge that leaders in this industry are faced with is the fact that there is no established formula for success.
Being a 10-year-old industry , there are no case studies of companies that you can refer to or learn from. Finding leaders who understand and appreciate technology and can learn new business models is difficult. Given that there is no history , one is forced to hire from other sectors with a hope that leaders have high learnability .
As the industry has continued to grow and evolve, several founders have brought in professionals to help manage their firms, making it crucial for the founders and professionals to have faith in each other’s capabilities. Startups and new economy ventures need to move quickly to address leadership challenges. While there is no one-size fits-all solution.
The ideal format could be one where the promoters and professionals have well-defined roles of mentorship and leadership respectively . The founders and the board need to create a stable environment and the professional leaders should outline the vision for the future and should be given the freedom and trust to articulate a game plan to fructify the vision.
For example, at Myntra, once I came on board as CEO, the founders were clear that they were available for discussions and to brainstorm on solutions. But the final calls -on everything from recruitment to strategy development -were left to me and the rest of the leadership team. This resulted in a seamless transition as I was given the freedom to plan, implement and deliver results.
I have seen leaders succeed and fail.Here are four characteristics that I believe are the key to success:
Learnability: For any leader to succeed in the e-commerce space, it is very important for them to have a high degree of learnability to develop new skills and meet the changing workforce and market requirements. Curiosity , humility and a willingness to learn from anyone are keys to success.
Energy: Leadership and energy go hand in hand. High levels of energy are a prerequisite for anyone in this industry . An e-commerce leader must be active, enthusiastic and passionate about the company’s mission. She or he has to have the ability to motivate her or his team in good times and bad.Through the day , I focus on managing my energy instead of managing time.This helps keep me efficient all day .
Idea factory: This space is extremely competitive and thrives on new ideas and innovation. Leaders must have their thinking caps on at all times, look for inspiration internally and externally , and also have the ability to decipher what works best for their sector.I try and attend industry events and meet different brand leaders every week, which helps me get a fresh perspective from the outside and formulate new ideas. Leaders who are lateral thinkers have a distinct chance of success in e-commerce.
Technology-orientation: Technology is the backbone of the e-commerce industry . It helps the company run its operations and meet customer needs seamlessly . While prior experience in technology is not a compulsion for leaders in this space, it is important for them to have a deep technology-orientation. They must believe in the exponential power of technology and its potential to change the future.
If we are able hire for these competencies and develop them, the e-commerce industry will continue to flourish and will become one of the most successful industries in the country.