Bhavdeep Singh – Lessons in Talent Management and Leadership

Bhavdeep Singh is a Managing Partner at Whitehawk Associates LLC, an independent management consultancy specializing in Retail, Human Resources, Leadership and Healthcare. Singh is also Chairman and co-founder of HealthQuarters, a new destination for curated and clinically-backed health and wellness services in downtown New York City.

Previously, Singh has built an international reputation for leadership and innovation in multiple roles around the world.  As CEO of Fortis Healthcare, where he served twice as Chief Executive Officer, he and his colleagues focused on driving patient care. Fortis is one of the top hospitals in India with a network of more than 30 hospitals across the country.  From January 2009 to January 2011, during Singh’s time as CEO, Fortis was one of the fastest growing health care providers in the region and the organization was growing quickly, adding hospitals and beds, focusing on improving clinical outcomes and driving great patient care.

Prior to his initial stint at Fortis, Mr. Singh was the CEO at Reliance Retail in India and was at the helm when Reliance opened up more than 700 new stores in less than two years.    Before re-joining Fortis in 2015, Singh was with Ahold, a 26 billion-dollar Dutch international retailer. At Ahold, he had complete P&L oversight for 800 stores and 110,000 employees. He was with the company for almost five years and served on the company’s Executive Board. While there, he was Executive Vice President of Human Resources and then went on to head Ahold’s United States operations and new formats business.

Singh attended Pace University and completed several certified courses in Leadership and Executive Management from premier institutions such as the Harvard Business School, Cornell University, University of Hartford, Dial Institute of Management, and St. Joe’s University in the United States.

We recently had the opportunity to connect with Bhavdeep Singh, where he graciously shared his approach to talent management and leadership.

How do you motivate your team for outstanding results?

Before you can think about motivating a team, you have to give appropriate consideration to team construct and how you bring a group of people together to focus on a goal. Whenever I think about teams and how people can work together (or not), I often think about the New York Yankees of the 80’s – this was the best team money could buy, yet they could never win.

It is important to consider the skills required for success, considering culture, work ethic, and teamwork. Once these initial building blocks are in place, I focus on “ways of working,” which is when I plan how the team will work together respectfully, focused, and transparent.

Once we get all of the above foundational principles in place, I try to articulate our business’s vision and mission, and identify each team member’s unique roles and responsibilities. If we can do that well and ensure that all the required resources are available, then it’s the right time for me to step out of the way and let the team do its work rather than be a micromanager or taskmaster.

From that point on, I am a coach, a cheerleader, and a mentor, and every once in a while, if things aren’t going as per plan, I may also be the person that has to jump in and get things back on track.

How do you handle difficult clients, customers, or coworkers?

It is a certainty in any business that there will be some conflict, tension, and day-to-day internal and external challenges to overcome. All great leaders try to build great teams and have a clearly articulated vision, and when there are issues, it is time for a leader or manager to step in and fix what is broken. Depending on the issue, I observe, listen and act — in that order. There is usually a root cause, and it sometimes takes time and some further digging to get to the bottom of what is wrong. Once we understand the cause, I deal with it immediately.

What qualities and skills do you look for when hiring new talent?

There are so many good theories on what to look for when recruiting talent – so many screening tools and schools of thought. And while I see a great deal of value in many of these resources, I see a huge value in connecting with the candidate when you talk/meet with him or her. This is particularly true when you are looking at senior talent for a key leadership role in the organization. In those cases, my assumption is that skill set and competence are a given, or we would not be meeting with them. So, if that is the case, most of the conversation revolves around values, style, and a broad understanding of “ways of working.” As I meet with candidates, I also emphasize motivation, humility, confidence, and sincerity. So, if you can leave a conversation with a candidate and check most of those boxes, you can probably start to move the process forward.

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