Leadership and Culture Shift?

"There is a tearing of the cultural fabric in India that will rip the heart out of what has been a docile and tranquil culture."

Here’s what I think is happening in India…more specifically, and in the developing world in general, as the “engine of commerce” begins to roll.

The “structure of culture” is beginning to shift out of a traditional design to a more commerce-driven set of parameters. As it begins to make this “memetic” shift, the fabric of the traditional design is beginning to tear because it can’t stretch far enough…you might even see it as fabric that when stretched, even though it’s holding together, there are holes being created that are allowing fairly large piece of society to float into the “cultural soup” that before was contained.

Practically, this means that the structure is becoming more flexible which is shifting the means of the ends. With greater flexibility, those person’s who are inherently (karmically you might say) motivated towards expedience do not have the cultural boundaries imposed on it, and these people are allowed to act more naturally.

While the culture has had a more traditional design, it held in check most of the individual motives through structure…what is happening now with the cultural structure shifting, we are seeing more individuality and less adherence to the “old” ways. I see this happening almost everywhere in India, big and small.

With 1 billion people, a shift of this size is absolutely monumental and will bring with it significant destabilizing forces (accompanying these memetic shifts)…including where young people no long “honor” their parents out of tradition, but move into ways which allow an expression of their own motives, if they are different.

Perhaps this helps explain the underlying issues that are going to challenge the structure of commerce as well, as more people reach a point where they begin to be released from tradition…we’ll begin to see much more difficultly in hiring the right people for the job because people are becoming differentiated through a cultural shift.

In other words, people who once could be counted on to do their duty and to perform even when it wasn’t in their individual best interest…may grow restless in their search for appeasing their individual nature and not being held by a tradition that is being supplanted by an engine of growth and commerce.

At this time, silicon India is now approaching 20 years old, most of these people who have rode this wave are now in midlife, another natural point of demarcation…I look for what I see as a trend in HR, where your good people are now becoming much more mobile and will be floating to and from companies based on “other” than traditional reasons, and those reasons will stem from individual freedoms and individual opportunity.

HR in my view, will have to become more flexible in understanding what keeps people in the company and are they getting sufficient opportunity to become individuals and meet individual, not alone group goals.

Two great issues are on the horizon, in my opinion:

  1. In India, there is no “salary-cap” (as we have in sports teams who trade in “Stars”) and therefore world-class salaries will soon be paid to MANY more Indians if you intend to keep the best and brightest in your company.

The fallout of this will be a distancing of the salary from the non-stars and stars, which will tear at the fabric of the organization, even small organizations who are growing rapidly.

  1. Since leadership is going to be in such incredibly high-demand, we will see an outflow of the best Indians to the developed world because of the shear nature of demographics in the developed world. In 2020, more than half if not more of the developed world will be over 50 years old…at 50, most people are not go-getters they were when they were in their 20s and 30s…and with the demand around the world for this kind of bright leadership, the pressure to keep your stars, who drive the engine of commerce and the engine of growth will be very high.

So, there are several things that rise up here.

  1. Better try to start understanding how to create a company where people feel motivated to work and not obligated.
  2. Best invest in leadership development, succession and bench talent to replace the high fliers as they move around with young, bright, engaged talent that has been seasoned.
  3. Notice how your culture of obligation is shifting to a culture of opportunity, this is huge for HR which must find ways to manage what can be a devastating tear in the cultural fabric of India.

Hopefully, some of that helps provide insight, albeit from an outsider, but from one who has many wonderful Indian friends and colleagues.

I have written extensively about coaching and all the items that I mentioned above. If you wish to read more intensively about any of the topics I mentioned, feel free to visit my personal website, or join us at Leadership University for coach training.


Until then,

Still time to reach my inner circle….

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