The Ascent Of Digital Leadership

The Ascent Of Digital Leadership

Human Capital spoke to Shailesh Singh, Director and Chief People Officer, Max Life Insurance, over the increasing prevalence of Digital Leadership and its relevance in the BFSI sector.


The large-scale tech-driven transformation at workplaces today has made organisations to prefer that their incumbent CEO wields technical expertise as against a background in Finance or Marketing. Such a vision, apart from driving a technical overture, also ensures continuous learning, a forward-looking perspective, and a culture of innovation within the organisational precinct.


Given the dynamic workplace scenario today, how do you view the rise of digital leadership?


In the backdrop of automation, shifts in technology and innovation headways, the rise of digital leadership is inevitable to achieve formulated business goals.



To ensure the success of digital leadership, organisations, in addition to making strategic use of their digital assets, will have to constantly adapt, appeal to and engage with employees in a meaningful manner.


In today’s dynamic digital oriented workplaces, the use of digital processes and strategies enable simpler experiences for all constituents, drive operational efficiencies, and help in decision making by leveraging vast amounts of data collected through internal sources.



To strike a balance with today’s dynamic workforce, it is important to nurture an ecosystem of collaboration where digital leadership can shed new light on the meaning of innovative management and creativity, thus make the organisation a force to reckon with.


How can digital tools drive meaningful employee progress?


Today, digitally adept companies have a host of robust tools that are paving the way for employee progress. As traditional roles and workplace structures change, these tools are constantly improving operations in the HR domain. From performance management to appreciation, digital tools aid in planning individual goals, monitoring progress, evaluating work, rewarding effectiveness and upgrading employee objectives in accordance with changing work cultures.


Could you tell us how digital communication has helped promote engagement and productivity in the BFSI sector?


Technological intervention and automation have changed the way employees communicate within an organisation. Increased usage of apps, chatbots, social intranets, webcasts etc. led by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning enhances connectivity and redefines the employee experience.


In the BFSI sector, as scale and dynamics evolve, companies are promoting peer-to-peer or leadership engagement initiatives via frequent business strategy webcasts and several sessions for informal interactions to grow a distinct culture across geographical zones. Working towards creating unified self-service offerings for employees leads to a simplified experience that help enhance the work culture and employee productivity. From streamlining access to payslips and planning leaves to digital referral and recognition of colleagues, digital initiatives are enabling productivity by bringing about a remarkable reduction in queries raised via internal ticketing system and improves turnaround time. Also, innovative sales face digital tools ensure that agents and last mile employees are empowered to take instantaneous decisions and hasten business closures that helps boost productivity and entail seamless transparency.


Can you walk us through some agile digital employee facing practices in the BFSI sector?


The BFSI sector has redefined employee experience by improving digital connectivity to increase productivity while enabling instant gratification. Today, the BFSI sector is increasingly utilising a host of digital initiatives to increase the overall nimbleness of operations across the entire recruitment chain. For instance, the usage of multiple AIbased solutions to onboard and engage with the distributed workforce real-time along with adopting various tools to enable employees to have real time interactions on key life cycle processes and “moments of truth”, driving accessibility of data with speed helps enable performance, engagement and superior quality experience.


Why do you think nurturing cultural values is critical for an organisation more than ever in the digital era?

In an age where digital intervention drastically reduces the time spent on manual operations in a business, there is greater demand for strategic and cognitive skills. To amplify the synergy of technology within an organisation and innovative ideation, high level of cognitive involvement should be embedded into the cultural values. This requires businesses to drive positive attitude towards change and engage employees in collaborative sessions to cultivate a mindset of growth and openness.



Creating digital oriented cultures by aligning employee values to digital corporate strategy is imperative to promote a common purpose within the organisation while co-creating business results.



The workforce today is constantly curious, and intellectually and culturally diverse. Do you think retaining talent is becoming increasingly challenging for organisations?


Retention of culturally and intellectually diverse workforce becomes less of a challenge if you have the right set of leaders at the forefront of any organisation. At Max Life Insurance, we have highly motivated, digital-savvy leaders who are keen to interact with the employees - both online and offline - across day-to-day operations.


By communicating with employees frequently about the benefits and keeping them uptospeed on organisational transformation, we are constantly investing in capabilities that empower the workforce of the future and unlock their full potential in unconventional, yet rewarding ways. Access to adept recruitment apps that allow us to deliver value propositions during onboarding, training and ongoing stages, today, provides us the scope to harness talent more effectively than ever before.






How can HR and Business Leaders work together to nurture an environment of impactful learning?


Collaboration across functions is important to foster a high performance and sustainable environment. To make judicious use of organisational talent, leaders should work closely with HR stakeholders to structure teams where flow of information, skills and talent can be made seamless. Organisations which do this efficiently create an ecosystem that promotes learning and ideation between different teams leading to effective communication and seamless integration and achievement of organisational goals.



The senior management, by way of introducing channels such as feedback surveys, open discussions and workshops helps transform employee experience and build a culture of trust and appreciation. Additionally, by creating a larger organisational atmosphere that helps optimise employee capabilities is just as important as investing in technology which enhances customer experience. Charting out training sessions to upgrade cognitive skills for every department integrates the workforce architecture with business requirements and helps build impactful learning mechanisms.


In view of the lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, what have been the learnings for Digital Learning for the BFSI Sector when it comes to usage of tech platforms for remote working and Work from Home?


Given the current need for social distancing, the emphasis on digital collaboration is greater than ever before. Investment in remote user technology such as virtual desktops and VPN is essential to ensure the BFSI sector continues collaborating and servicing customers seamlessly through this period of lockdown. Companies have embraced techled solutions to enable hyper-connectivity through various tools for video conference, application & network support, service desks, etc. which is driving work from home efficiency. There is a clear realisation to push digital adoption in the interest of speed, process efficiencies, consistency of deliveries and employee safety.


At Max Life Insurance, the early adoption of such tech platforms enabled us to quickly ensure that 80% of our employees could work from home effectively within 3-4 days of the lockdown announcement. We are systemically leveraging tools like employee app, workplace, MS Teams and Zoom where our leaders engage with broader teams and instil a culture of collaboration across functions and processes. Our employees are efficiently using our digital assets and employee apps to consume as many HR processes as possible like Payroll, learning and development and PMS. We are also loving the fact that our customers are responding well and adopting digital solutions/ interactions much faster than we thought.





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