The leaders through infosys leadership institute


Recognizing the need for grooming leaders in the Indian IT industry, Infosys Technologies Ltd. has emerged as the first Indian company to set up an institute exclusively for the purpose of developing leaders to sustain Infosys' legacy.

Early twentieth century saw the birth of Infosys Leadership Institute (ILI) with the vision to be globally recognized institution that brings up leaders and advances the field of leadership development. Over the past decade the growth witnessed at Infosys coupled with globalization, provided Infosys the motion to focus on developing leaders for the future. It was in keeping with this vision that Narayan Murthy, the founder and chairman of the company, carefully put together a management council which took tactical decisions about the corporation. During the council meetings the chairman noticed that juvenile achievers in the troupe were hesitant to come out with their propositions. On boosting them to speak, the suggestions and thoughts of the juvenile achievers had a lot of essence that could help considerably. These people had not contributed to the discussions as they were afraid of sinning hierarchy. This concern lead to the thought of establishing a leadership institute that would prepare and build up leaders from promising Infoscions, irrespective of chain of command and provide with the opportunity to form the future of the corporation.

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The institute's main objectives were jotted around the same, which includes preparing the company to manage its global growth and diversification objectives; to prepare employees face the complexities of the market and the rapidly changing environment; and to create higher customer value through thought leadership around both the science and practice of developing leaders. In fact, "The charter of ILI is to create a formal, defined system to develop leadership and management capabilities in Infoscions by enabling the immediate execution of current strategy, and to ensure a high probability of broad succession," as stated by the head leadership development of ILI, Mathew Barney. Thus, the institute focuses only on the senior-most and high-potential leaders called Tier Leaders and strive to help these leaders realize their goals and ultimately succeed the board of directors. ILI is committed to both relevance and rigor in equal amounts. The institute work towards helping execute the business strategy and ensuring that Infosys has appropriate bench strength of leaders to take on senior leadership positions.

To start creating a robust leadership development process Infosys defined leadership competencies based on its vision and core values and defined along four broad dimensions viz. Work, People, Technology and Business. Further, a nine pillar dimension model of leadership was developed that describes leadership effectiveness in behavioural terms. The nine pillars are 360 degree feedback, developmental assignments; Infosys culture workshop, developmental relationships, leadership skill training, feedback intensive programs, system process learning, community empathy and action learning. The nine leadership characters and values are assessed annually, using multi-source or 360 degree feedback approaches.

Lately, ILI via the means of computerized infrastructure started the all round assessment known as the Leadership Journey Series. ILI is one of the institutes of its kind to ensure 360 degree assessment which provides highly accurate and precise information. The assessment program aids leaders to focus on the areas most compelling for the growth. Periodically the progress is talked over with the respective mentors as well as the chairman.

ILI has continued to evolve over the years, with a significant shift in strategy recently, when it was restructured to focus exclusively with advanced leadership methods. The Infosys board of directors launched a new 360 survey for themselves to plan development of the senior-most leaders, role modelling the importance of leader development to the rest of the organization. Also, each tier leader was assigned an ILI expert to be their individual counsellor, and single point of contact for all ILI offerings, including the new Leadership Journey Series Computer Adaptive assessments.

The approach to develop the young enthusiastic leaders into board members is holistic in nature which is both necessary and sufficient. These include proper classes with industry individuals, talks by tier leaders called 'Leaders Teach', books, and feedback from assessments. The 'Leaders Tech Series' are workshops conducted by the board of directors, executive committee and tier leaders with help from the ILI faculty.

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The areas such as advanced virtual leadership scenarios, which allow leaders to exercise the most intricate leadership behaviours in safe, simulated surroundings is under development.

Apart from imparting knowledge, the top management of Infosys, including the chairman, the CEO and the board of directors are closely involved in the design and roll out of programs for the next generation of leaders. In addition, ILI faculty consists of staff members with global experience in the science and practice of leader development; senior leaders from Infosys and eminent academicians. ILI currently has three Ph.D. faculties, including the head, Dr. Barney, one in training and the third one is masters-trained. However, ILI is a very small team of six, one external consultant and two support staff to support 750 leaders.

The institute has dished out several leaders who have been successful in implementing their knowledge in various interventions that aid in solving real business issues. For example, ILI worked closely with Infosys' successful Finance unit on their plan to grow to $1B dollars, from its current USD S250M. Finacle, Infosys largest and most successful software product has received the highest ratings from analysts, and has significant market presence is dozens of countries around the world. The challenge however, was to scale globally, including new markets with leaders who could sell, and implement Finacle's banking solution to banking boards. ILI worked closely with the entire Finacle leadership team on a series of interventions to improve the unit head and its top leaders' on time management skills; empowerment and delegation; organizational process improvement using Lean Six Sigma and Dr. Barney's Cue See model; and organization design.

The association with ILI resulted in a powerful business case to invest in Finacle that was recognized by one Infosys board member as 'The Big Bet' for the company. ILI's first patent, now pending was developed in response to specific leadership challenges faced by Finacle's leadership team and leveraging original ILI intellectual property. ILI demonstrated that its early interventions, such as our 'Time Quadrants' intervention was effective through formal Rasch Measurement Analyses; and ultimately our work in collaboration with Finacle's leadership team demonstrated our relevance with rigour.

A second example of ILI's success is, in the year, with Infosys' EUS unit head and senior leadership team to define their strategy to grow past S1B. Using Dr. Barney's Cue See Model, including self-placed learning, the entire leadership team identified their bottlenecks, and set action plans that set the tone for the leadership team's action plans, and team coordination for the next fiscal year. The unite head was pleased to recommend this approach to his peers, as a useful model to ensure ILI relevance and rigour.

Since the new ILI was finalized at the end of 2009, and is finalizing governance measurements, including measurable impact with Infosys' chief risk officer, with encouragement from the risk subcommittee of the board, the systematic collection and reporting on these data to ensure internal operational excellence, de-risk succession and providing appropriate measurements to academic research partners.

The future plans of ILI, is to create development that include advanced simulations for leaders to practice difficult and risky skills in a safe environment. One research area includes advanced psychometrics in virtual environments for better feedback to learners, mentors and managers that are less tedious than alternatives. ILI also aims at expanding the network for expert academics to teach, and publish with the institute. The book entitled, 'Authentic Leadership at Infosys ', designed to teach Infosys leaders and to provide a platform to get closer to customers and prospective customers with Infosys thought leadership.

ILI wants to be known for evidence-based leadership; and for using Infosys strengths-software-as a significant lever to grow leaders. Besides, ILI welcomes dialog and partnerships with others who embrace authentic leadership with measurable impact.