Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta, who has led Southeast Asia’s largest bank for the past 13 years, understands the challenges that come with crises and service outages. In a conversation with CNA’s Work It podcast hosts Crispina Robert and Adrian Tan, Gupta discusses how he tackles these challenges while avoiding a blame culture within the organization.

Rather than seeking cover or shifting blame, Gupta emphasizes accountability. He believes in taking personal responsibility as the CEO of the company, regardless of the nature of the problem. Whether it stems from a third-party provider, an errant employee, or an accident, Gupta acknowledges that as far as the consumer is concerned, he is the face of the bank and responsible for resolving the issue.

To truly understand the problems at hand, Gupta adopts a hands-on approach. He personally involves himself in about eight projects each year, delving deep into the root causes and working to find solutions. Unexpected events like the bank outages experienced by DBS are treated as unplanned projects, where Gupta aims to understand the issues and ensure the organization is well-equipped to address them effectively.

While dealing with challenges, Gupta emphasizes the importance of providing “air cover” for his team. He believes that fostering a blame culture can lead to fear and hinder productivity. Instead, Gupta focuses on building a sense of accountability within his team, allowing them to exercise judgment and remain confident in their abilities. This, he admits, is one of the most difficult challenges in leadership.

Gupta also shares insights into transforming a company. He highlights the importance of being a good storyteller and aligning actions with words. Contrary to received wisdom, he believes that people can change, even within established organizations. Gupta’s personal experiences have shaped his appetite for risk and his perspective on career growth. He emphasizes the importance of finding fulfillment and making an impact, rather than merely chasing career advancement.

Over time, Gupta’s leadership style has evolved to adapt to the changing dynamics of the workforce. He recognizes the shift in priorities and ambitions among younger employees, who seek to make an impact and be involved in decision-making. Consequently, he has embraced a more horizontal and participative leadership style, involving younger individuals and moving away from a directive approach.

In summary, Piyush Gupta, the CEO of DBS, emphasizes accountability and personal responsibility when facing challenges. He believes in avoiding a blame culture and providing “air cover” for his team. Gupta’s hands-on approach to problem-solving and his belief in personal growth and impact have shaped his leadership style and approach to managing the organization.

Source: CNA/ta(kk)

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