Givers – Takers – Matchers
An interview with Mamata Vegunta, Director – Human Resources, Invesco Hyderabad
How have you evolved in professional life i.e. your professional journey?
I graduated in English literature and pursued my masters in social sciences. Then I went on to do my M.Phil. The plan was to complete my PhD too and get into academics. However, in 1995 I joined Satyam on a short term contract but it turned out to be a full time job. Since I started liking the work, I decided to discontinue my academic plans.
I worked at Satyam for over 8 years. Thereafter I was with Convergys and Bank of America. Now I’ve been with Invesco for 7 years. That comes up to about 22 years of experience in this field. I also saw the business side of an organization when I worked with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for a few months but I came back to HR because it feels like home to me. I completed my PhD in 2013 and am proud to have fulfilled that dream.
What do you think is the role of values in leadership and in life?
David Brooks in his New York Times article ‘The Moral Bucket List’ puts this beautifully. He says everyone has two sets of values or virtues. One is the Resumé Values and the other is the Eulogy Values.
Resumé values are what one brings to the workplace, for example, leadership, decision making, execution, etc. These are the values that the workplace rewards you for. The more you practice them the more you will evolve as a professional.
Eulogy values on the other hand are the values that people will remember you for. Some examples of these are humility, kindness, sense of humour, etc. Eulogy values are what define a person.
These values, while distinct from each other need to come together at the workplace.
The book, ‘Give and Take’ by Adam Grant speaks of reciprocity. In the book, he says there are 3 types of people at a workplace – Givers, Takers and Matchers. The takers and matchers are somewhere in the middle of the success ladder but the givers are either at the top of the success ladder or at the bottom. Bottom, because they put everyone else before them. The givers at the top have certain leadership skills that take them there. For me, giving is a eulogy value. It’s one value that makes you successful. Understanding interdependence and reciprocity at the workplace is very important. Leadership is a lot about giving. You need to ensure there is very little or no conflict between personal and workplace values.
For this, the leader sets the tone because the value of giving needs to be top driven. Giving behaviour should be rewarded by the leaders. If the employees are super competitive all the time without reciprocity it would erode the values of the company.
Which are your top 3-4 most important values without which you feel you cannot do without as a person?
I think Meaning is a value of great importance to me. Whatever I do has to have meaning whether it’s in my personal life or professional.
Continuous learning is another value that is of great significance. People box themselves in and form a certain image of themselves and stop learning and growing. It is important to grow and learn continuously to reach your true potential. Explore every aspect of your personality and this can only happen if one is willing to say yes to learning.
Kindness is another value that I cherish. These are some of the values that define me as a person.
What in your opinion is the contribution of values in organizational growth?
Values are extremely important. Every organization defines its own mission, vision, values and principles and it is important that the leaders of the organisation walk that talk.
How leaders incorporate the mission, vision, values and principles into the day-to-day workings plays an important part in how the organization functions on the whole. For example, if the organization says that customers are the most important but the customer service does not reflect that then there is a contradiction of values. It’s difficult but that is why it is so important to have the right leaders because values are driven top down.
People will realize that there is a gap between what is said and what is practiced. As Woody Allen said it, “In theory, theory and practice are the same but in practice they are not.”
People can see through what is real and what is not.
What are the challenges in practicing value based leadership and what are the ways to get people to practice them?
Demonstrate it. That is the only way of translating words and values into action. Value shouldn’t just be words on the walls. They need to be translated into behaviour or action. If you believe that people are the most important asset for your organization then you have to behave that way.
As an organization what are the kind or training and development initiative taken by you to enhance alignment, competence and performance of your team members across various levels i.e leadership level, mid management level and executive level?
We have a global approach to training and development. Development strategy has to be aligned with the business goals of an organization.
Values are not the starting point to define a training calendar but they do get incorporated along the way in various trainings. It’s the business goals, people needs and corporate strategies that define the people development strategy.
Your message to executives for growth in career…
Be authentic and build on your strengths. A focus on relationships and a strong reputation for performance can take you far.