Return on human capital is not always easily achieved. One of the many factors that can make or break ROI of human capital is the role that leadership plays. This was the focus of the DevOps India Summit panel discussion, Leadership’s Influence on Human Capital, featuring IT and HR leaders across the industry.

The session opened with the question, “How are we looking at human capital to be built so we can have high performing teams?”

Al Wagner, transformation architect at HCL Software DevOps, focused his answer on trust.

“The best attribute that a leader needs to display with their team is trust,” Al said. “Making sure that teams have the technologies that they require, they understand the work that needs to be done and their role in delivering that work, and trust in allowing them to execute. The other side of it is the employee has a responsibility as well with respect to maintaining skills and embracing these new technologies and positioning themselves in a place that they are delivering value. It’s an exchange of information between the leaders and the people that report to them, trusting that they’re going to do the right thing.”

Naresh Choudhary, VP at Infosys, built on Al’s answer, by talking about a leader’s role in establishing purpose.

“It’s about showing the people the north star, helping them get an understanding of the larger purpose, getting them to understand the larger meaning of the work they are doing,” Naresh said. “The role of the leader is to make sure these things happen in a balanced manner where you’re able to get your teams to understand the impact of the work you’re doing on the customers or end users or the larger society. If the teams can be made to understand this, that goes a lot way to show that you are building a very cohesive team.”

Shalini Nataraj, Global Head of HR Fleet and Strategic Brands at A.P. Moller, took that a step further by applying a leader’s role in building company culture.

“Everything about building high performance starts with three things,” Shalini said. “First, as a leader what am I doing to develop myself, keep myself engaged, keep myself inspired. Research shows that if I’m disengaged as a leader, then I’m not going to engage my teams enough. Then, it moves onto the employee with the trust and purpose we already spoke about, but also how can I as a leader remove myself from there. There are times that I become the roadblock as a leader because I’m coming in to say here is how it needs to be done. Instead of that, can I inspire them to bring their best to work every day? Can I remove roadblocks? Can I make myself dispensable so they’re able to create and innovate every day? The last thing that the leader can do to influence high performance is related to the environment we work in. When I think about culture I think about my leader and how my leader treats me but also about the ecosystem I’m in. Can I make my culture around me easier to be myself? Can I create an inclusive environment? Can I have a culture that believes in growing along with me and not just in spite of me? If we can look at it in these three ways, we can create a high performing team but also create human capital in a way that we are building business and not the other way around.”

The panelists shared many more powerful insights and tips throughout the hourlong discussion. Watch the session below.

Padma Satyamurthy Panel Discussion from Digital Anarchist Network on Vimeo.

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