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Leading In Uncertain Times

Here are five of the most important lessons I have gathered that may be of help to navigate through uncertainties

 We are living in uncertain times. From global capital markets plunging, record high inflation resulting in increases in interest rates by central banks, a massive spike in commodity prices resulting from major geopolitical conflict, the challenges before us are numerous. Another wave of Covid 19 has started wreaking havoc in China, climate disasters have increased and now affect almost every country of the world. The International Monetary Fund has projected a dip in global GDP growth from 6 per cent in 2021 to 2.7 per cent in 2023.

Despite these mounting challenges, I see many good examples of global business leaders and brave entrepreneurs aiming to build organisations that solve fundamental problems for humanity. When I started ReNew Power in 2011, India had less than 25,000 MW of installed renewable capacity (a number that has grown more than 6X today). While there was obviously a market for the growth of renewables, there was no playbook for how one should build a large renewables company in the Global South. Starting with the first project of 25 MW to now having a total portfolio of more than 13,000 MW, ReNew has established a comprehensive playbook for building a successful RE business, a model which is now being replicated elsewhere in the world. We led from the front in an uncertain environment.

Here are five of the most important lessons I have gathered that may be of help to navigate through uncertainties:

Unwavering Commitment to Purpose One must always remember why you are doing what you are doing. For me, I saw that the time to shift from coal to clean had come. I was clear that this energy transition had to be accelerated for solving the greatest challenge facing humanity.

This conviction when few believed in it has always been my guiding light in the toughest of situations.

Clear communication Different stakeholders perceive uncertainties created by external situations in their own way. Leaders need to be cognizant of these and establish clear communication lines – to understand the perceptions, recognise the risks, set out opportunities and articulate a way forward. Flexibility and a simple approach to solve complex problems with a positive attitude are important confidence builders.

Leading with Empathy During the pandemic, I was amazed by the empathy the ReNew family showed towards each other, the extended families and our partners. We understood each other’s anxieties and fears to navigate through difficult times. So ‘people’ focus should always be over and above the balance sheet focus.

Normalising Failure Good organisations will always find a silver lining in any crisis. One will need persistence and patience to go through a series of experimentations and failures. ReNew is what it is today, because we have spotted opportunities, persisted patiently early on and built on them. But so many plans also did not take off. It is important to build a culture where people are willing to take calculated risks and it is okay to fail, however, they should draw out learnings from these failures.

Balancing Offence with Defence As is the case in soccer, in business as well, it is critical to ensure that existing businesses are strengthened even as business leaders and entrepreneurs venture into new areas. The right balance of defence with offense is key to growth.

Sumant Sinha, Chairman & CEO, ReNew Power on how to navigate the challenges posed to businesses in an uncertain environment