Envision and Execute: Key to Exemplary Leadership

In this edition of ‘CHRO Insights,’ as part of the Great Manager Awards, we have Ms Ruchira Bhardwaja,Joint President &CHRO of Kotak Life, India. In her conversation with Rahul Mahajan, Country-Lead of Great Manager Awards, she shares her thoughts on crucial competencies for a leadership role.

Rahul: It has been 25 years in the field of HR for you, what is it in the domain that still keeps you going?

Ruchira: Rahul, there are many reasons, however, let me share two which are very close to my heart. Firstly, the ever changing “nature-of-the-workplace” provides an opportunity to keep reinventing oneself. It is exciting to be constantly being challenged and be prepared for what’s next in the business or the industry locally or globally. As an HR professional, I strive to understand my company and my people, meet various challenges, and be at the forefront. Secondly, working with teams, conceptualizing initiatives and processes which can contribute to the growth and development of people and more significantly, be an enabling factor for the organization keeps me going.

Rahul: What is your leadership style and some do’s and don’ts around you?

Ruchira: I would say my style is mostly participative and collaborative. However, I can be directive too when required. The directive part usually takes precedence when people (are not thinking enough and beyond, are not conceptualizing things keeping the overall business deliverables in view, or not keeping an eye for detail.

Also, I don’t sit in the corner office and decide what needs to be done. I like to spend inordinate amount of time with internal stakeholders, understand their wants and needs, analyze the data, and synthesize the information to decide how can my team and me contribute to their success.

“Leadership is about giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.”

Answering the 2nd part of your question – about the do’s and don’ts around me – I believe in the ABCD style of working.

  • Wherein A stands of Alignment & Accountability – be aligned to the purpose and hold oneself accountable to deliver.
  • B is to be the Bridge between people and HR, between people and the senior management, or between the teams and me.
  • C is about honoring Commitments; and
  • D is understanding the power of Delegation and timely Decision Making


Rahul: What are some of the top advice to the HR professionals who have recently started with their new positions as CHROs during this pandemic era?

Ruchira: First 90 days are the most critical phase. My number one recommendation for these 90 days is “Just Listen and Assimilate”

“The key is to listen more, observe more but speak less. If you do speak, measure your words very carefully.Remember, the person before you, or the team(s), for that matter the CEO too, have been there in the company much before you joined. They have been instrumental in building the organization before you joined.”

Be very cognizant of how you articulate your thoughts, try and build a great rapport with your team members, and avoid talking about the things which are not there.

“To win the marketplace, you must first win the workplace.”

Rahul: What qualities would you look at if you were to find a successor for your role?

Ruchira: Tenacity and Deep understanding about the business & how HR can contribute towards it. An HR leader defacto becomes the custodian of the organization’s culture. One needs to have a great balance of empathy and apathy to steer the company forward and build a sustainable proposition.

The second thing required is to possess a deep understanding about the business, but more importantly a superset of knowledge about how HR can enable business growth.

Rahul: Given the limited time in an interview, what would you want to gauge through a set of questions that you will ask from a particular candidate?

Ruchira: I will assess the individual’s capability to envision and more critically, capability to get it executed.

Rahul: What is one standard piece of advice you would like to give to the younger generation?

Ruchira: The current generation stepping into the workforce must ‘find their IKIGAI’; that is, finding what you love and passionate about. I’ve seen those who found that IKIGAI contribute much more meaningfully, both at the workplace and for their personal development. They are also much more engaged with whatever they’re doing. And that’s a delight to see.

Rahul: What would be some critical expectations from HR, specifically in the next one or two years?

Ruchira: “Today, HR is more about building a balance between employees’ wellness and the organization’s well-being.”


About Rahul Mahajan:

Rahul is the Country Lead of the Great Manager Awards and has played a pivotal role in strengthening the Great Manager Awards program in partnership with The Economic Times over the last 6 years in India. Rahul consults organizations in identifying & developing successors.

About Great Manager Awards:

Great manager awards program is an initiative by ‘people business’ to identify, recognize and reward “companies with great managers” in India.

This program enables the participant organizations to compare and benchmark themselves and their managers across the industry. It helps organizations create real competitive advantage through its managers.