Transitioning across contexts
Arun talks about how one can listen to build credibility in a new context, especially if you are in a situation where you feel you do not have the capabilities on Day 0\. He talks about how he learnt from Sumant Moolgaokar by watching him interact with people across hierarchies including how he would engage with the gardener. He shares that it is critical that we move from a “I will teach” to a “I will learn” mindset when you move to a new context.
Transitioning to a General Management role
Roopa talks about the transition to the role of a Chief Rating Officer being the defining transition in her journey at CRISIL. She talks about how the profile of her responsibilities and stakeholders significantly changed when she moved into that role. She also talks at length about how she recalibrated the relationship with her peers when she got promoted, something that a lot of people struggle with.
Flexing leadership style at Omidyar Network
Roopa talks about how she had to adjust her leadership style when she moved from leading a team of 4000 plus people in CRISIL to Omidyar Network which had about 150 people globally and about 15-20 people in India. She discusses the power of listening, learning and tapping into the internal network to come upto speed and build credibility with the organization.
Rewiring the leadership approach
Falguni speaks about the key shifts that she has made to her leadership style as she moved from a Senior Leadership role in an institution like Kotak to starting Nykaa from the ground. She specifically refers to the poem Ithaka that had daughter had shared with her at that point. It talks about the criticality of focusing on the journey than the destination.
Transitioning from playing sport to commentating
Vijay reflects on how he transitioned to a new career as his family context changed and he approached the end of his active tennis career. He talks about how re-inventing yourself is often like throwing yourself in the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim. Perspectives that could be relevant for leaders who are trying to re-invent themselves given significant shifts in the world of work and in personal circumstances.
Transitioning across Cultures
Having moved from the army setup to the corporate world then onto a government organization and back to the corporate world, Raghu has worn many hats in his professional life. All of these shifts have involved transitioning across cultures- some well established, others being established and yet others, desperately needing a change in culture! Hear Raghu talk about how he navigated these transitions to integrate into the organization he joined.
Transitioning from the Army to the Corporate world
Raghu talks about how we could think about leveraging the pool of leadership talent that the army produces. He compares India to markets such as US, where there have been generations of Corporate Leaders who spent their early years in the Armed Forces. This is not just about providing an education around some of the elements of business. It is a complete rewiring that needs to happen.
Plunging into Stand-Up
“If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.” Hear how Papa CJ took the plunge into the gruelling yet satisfying world of stand-up comedy. A mix of conviction, grit, pragmatism, sacrifice and passion helped him make this journey. This nugget gives us an insight into planning and being prepared for transitions.
Leading in India versus other markets
How does being a business leader in India differ from leading in other international markets? Hear Ravi elaborate on what you need to succeed in India by sharing some personal experiences. Don’t miss the bit about Jack Welch of GE and the concept of a younger mentor.
Listening intently during Transitions
Ravi’s career trajectory has often taken him to sectors and organizations he did not know much about. The key to his successful transitioning, according to him, has been listening; but listening to what and whom? Get the details and some tips in this anecdotal nugget.
Integrating into a start-up
Culture is often seen as something that large organizations need to worry about. However, if a start up tackles the challenges of culture from the very beginning and clearly defines its competencies and values, it could be a significant competitive differentiator especially during the scaling up phase. Hear Abhijit elaborate on the startup ecosystem in this nugget.
Infosys to UIDAI - a 3D transition
Leadership Transitions can be a period of significant anxiety for several executives who are transitioning across contexts and domains. Nandan shares his insights around what he kept and what he changed when he transitioned across 3 dimensions when he moved from Infosys to UIDAI. He also talks about the power of commitment in such situations.
Transition pitfalls - Banking/Consulting to VC
Transitioning from one industry to another are always fraught with uncertainty and risk. Leaders are straddling several sub-transitions - settling into a new organization, flourishing in a new space which requires a different set of skills and mindsets. Karthik talks about the common derailers that could come into play when Consultants or Bankers are transitioning into Venture Investing.
Settling effectively into Venture Investing
The first 30-60 days in any profession are often quite tricky. Hairline cracks can quickly turn into fractures if not handled carefully. Karthik talks about how he works with the incoming members and thinks about the early passage of play in the organization. He also talks about how he pre-empts the derailment risk by suggesting to interested individuals to seek certain prior experiences before venturing into Venture Investing.
Transitioning out of Consulting (including views on entrepreneurship)
A career in Management Consulting in a firm like McKinsey can be immensely rewarding but also inexorably intense. Pramath talks about how he thought about a career in McKinsey versus pursuing something else. He also discusses some of the common misconceptions people often have when they take the plunge into entrepreneurship.
Effective Leadership transitions across companies
Leaders during transitions often feel like trapeze artists as they go from one to another. It is the role of the hiring manager and the transitioning leader to think this through. Vedika shares her perspectives in the context of some of her transitions at a leadership level.
Transitioning to the Social Impact world
"How do I bring greater meaning in my life" is a question that people start grappling with as they approach mid-life and beyond. However, people struggle with making this happen. Vedika discusses her transition from heading Credit Suisse in India to Water.Org
Navigating the first 3-6 months
The first few months in a new organization can be a nervous passage of play for the incoming leader and for the hiring manager. If not handled carefully, the organizational antibodies could eject the new entrant. Vinita shares her insights on how the incoming leader and the hiring leader could navigate this phase effectively.
Transitioning back to India in a leadership role
Vinita transitioned from an American MNC in their Latin American division to Britannia in India. It was a transition across multiple dimensions. She talks about her reflections around settling into the new context. She also talks about the role of the hiring leader in setting the incoming individual for success.
Learning/Unlearning during transition
Anu discusses the transition from high intensity consulting projects with a tight feedback loop to a relatively open ended and longer cycle life at McKinsey Global Institute. She talks about how she adjusted to the new operating rhythm of the place.
Transitioning from Advertising to the Tech world
KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how he thought about the move from the world of Advertising to the world of Technology. He also speaks about the notion of staying relevant in the context of children and consumers and how one needs to be in sync with them to be able to connect with them.
Settling effectively in a new organization
KV Sridhar talks about his perspectives on settling into an organization and how leaders should think about what to maintain and what to change. He makes the case for imbibing the values of the organization and then interpreting it differently as you slowly build trust with the ecosystem.
Transitioning effectively to a new context
Suresh talks about his experiences in transitioning across companies and roles. He moved from HUL to Nestle and within Nestle, he moved across markets such as Egypt, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and India. He talks about how he thinks about settling into a new context and also what it takes to build systems and processes so that even when you transition out, the organization continues to run effectively.
Developing a sense of judgment
Roopa talks about she developed a sense of judgment in the new context when she moved to Omidyar Network. She talks about the fact that she now has to exercise judgment on entrepreneurs who in turn will exercise judgment on several topics that are relevant to them. She discusses how she went about acquiring that nuanced sense of judgment by understanding the world of the start-up entrepreneur and the world of technology.
Transitioning to the Social Impact world
Neera talks about the distinction between Needs and Wants as people think about a career in Social Impact as against the Corporate world (although the lines between the two are being blurred). She also discusses some of the real challenges when people with a long successful tenure in the Corporate world transition to the Social Impact world. She shares her perspectives on how could adapt well into the new context.
Distinctive leaders in the Social Impact space
Neera talks about some of the unique characteristics of the distinctive leaders that have made a lasting contribution in the Social Impact space. She talks about a combination of a desire for large-scale impact coupled with empathy for the consumer whose needs and wants they want to address.
Transitioning to solo-preneurship
Indranil talks about his challenges in transmitting some of the elements of the credo he had crafted as the head of Marketing and Strategy of his organization. He underscores the risks of abstraction when we craft values such as honesty, excellence, customer-delight etc. and adorn the walls. He takes the example of a story to illustrate the point “no room for ordinary” a value they were trying to live in his company. He goes on to share how he transitioned to the world of story-telling and reflects on some of his early lessons in solo-preneurship.
Settling into a new context
Dr Guha speaks about the phase of transition when Gandhiji moved from South Africa to India. He talks about how Gandhiji was advised (by Gopal Krishna Gokhale) to spend about a year understanding the nuances of the country before embarking on a journey of change. He also speaks about Gandhiji’s open-mindedness and willingness to listen which enabled him to absorb the complexity of the country without bringing his biases.
Settling into Scandinavia
Rajat speaks about his stints as leader in Scandinavia and in Chicago and the key levers he focused on to drive the growth of each office. He also make the distinction between the approach in Scandinavia which was significantly underpenetrated and in Chicago which had an established practice.
Creating the mind-space
Michael speaks about what it takes to get leaders to allocate mind-space to their transition while they are settling into a new context. He strongly suggests that we start working on transitions early (even before the leader comes in) so that it feels like a natural part of settling in rather than a separate list of things that one needs to do and as a potential distraction to the job at hand.
The Transition timeline
Michael speaks about how the various elements of transition that get addressed over a 6-12 month period. He talks about the fact that even in well meaning organizations, there is a risk of overloading the leader’s calendar with “stuff” to do and not really solving for what the leader wants. He speaks about the criticality of elements such as communication, arrival posture and alliances and the timing of when these elements matter.
Fit for purpose feedback loop
Michael speaks about the sub-optimality in feedback loops when a new leader comes into an organization. He speaks about the relevance of early conversations with the stakeholders and Day 90/120 conversations to ensure that leaders get tailored constructive feedback to ensure that they are able to course correct early in their journeys.
Onboarding a leader
Michael speaks about the criticality of assimilating into an organization without triggering the immune system that could easily start working against you. He goes on to say that even if you have been hired as a change agent, earn the right to drive change before you start moving things around (unless it is a turnaround and shock therapy is warranted) in the new organization.
Building trust with the Indian Cricket team
Paddy speaks about how he and Gary Kirsten spent the first few months building trust with the players of the Indian cricket team when they were appointed. Given that they were coming from a different culture and with limited prior experience in a similar high-stakes context, it was critical for them to land well.
Leadership inflection points
As organizations grow from being start ups to more established businesses, their leadership needs and demands also change and vary. In this nugget, Kartik traces this spectrum of leadership inflection points and maps it with funding cycles.
Scale-up and transitions at Infosys
As an entrepreneur, staying relevant as the company goes through turbo-charged growth can be a challenge. Nandan talks about how he had to reinvent himself and his style at various points as Infosys grew from a start up to IPO, to listing on the NASDAQ and when it hit USD 1 Billion in revenues.
Dealing with hyper-growth and scale-up
Organizations often outgrow the entrepreneur very quickly. Unless the entrepreneur is proactively thinking about scaling up himself/herself and proactively getting the right people who can drive scale, the start up can very quickly taper off. While 1 out of 10 startups succeed at a Venture stage, he talks about the patterns from the other 9 that don't "make it"
Growing as a player and inflection points
Vishy talks about how his approach to development has changed as he has grown as a player over time. He talks about his approach to picking Coaches that get the best out of him. He also discusses the impact of technology on what it takes to be a successful player while getting the most out of the machines. He talks about the trade-off between specialization and flexibility in this context.
Dealing with various life transitions
Devdutt talks about people transitioning from being a Parasuram (rule follower) to Ram (Role Model) to Krishna (Coach) as they go through their career. He discusses the distinction between the western model (that he says is substitutive) and an Indian model (that he says is cumulative). He refers to how sometimes children in family businesses aren’t exposed to adequate real-life experiences before they join the business.
Factors behind the rise at DSP Merrill Lynch
Amit reflects on the common misconceptions people have when they get into Banking. Amit talks about how he made the decision to join DSP Merrill Lynch despite it being the job with the lowest pay and title. He also talks about how he leveraged his style of building deep authentic relationships with clients to grow over time. He also talks about the role of early bosses and brutal developmental feedback coupled with mentorship from Hemendra Kothari which have played a key role in his growth as a Banker.
Moving to a 50% model at Bain Capital
Amit currently operates on a 50% model where he spends 2.5 days at Bain Capital and 2.5 days on Social Impact, Boards and other matters. He talks about how he and his wife gradually started spending more and more time on the Social sector and how he structured this arrangement when the last fund was being raised.
Playing the 1st half of career to win the 2nd half
Mouli discusses that a lot of the wins in the first half of the career are often on the back of low hanging fruit but the wins in the second half are often harder. He mentions that apart from solving for successes in the first half, we should all build the muscle and resilience to be able to go after the complex win or the high hanging fruit. And that sometimes might require us to go slow and learn than run fast and miss out on building this muscle.
Early career choices - Law, Journalism, Teaching and Writing
Vinay talks about how he has thought about his career choices. He speaks about the fact that after his 12th, he could have possibly become an architect instead of a Lawyer. He also talks about his thinking at each of the transition points where he made critical choices (Law versus Architecture, Law to Journalism, Journalism to study PhD in Politics). He also talks about how he thinks more about the quality of the product he creates with his diverse backgrounds than sweat about the notion of his identity.
Making/Not making key decisions
Vinay talks about how Narasimha Rao made decisions or chose not to make decisions strategically depending on the political context. He mentions that often people think of Narasimha Rao as an intellectual but Vinay argues that he was a man of action but also somebody who was acutely aware of his political ability to drive through change.
Transitioning roles within Dasra
Neera talks about how she has thought about her role as Dasra has grown and her plans for governance as we look to the future. She talks about the interconnect between the personal and professional life and how the role she has played in Dasra has been in the context of her personal context.
Reinventing oneself at 45
Arun talks about how he was a cross-roads when he had to move from a successful stint as an executive in Tata Motors to a role as a consultant with Arthur D Little in the United States. He talks about the circumstances in which he took the decision (including a nudge from JRD Tata) and how he had to adjust his style to be effective in a new professional and cultural context. It is not very often that you see a leader transition from being a Business Leader to a Business Consultant.
Start up to scale up
Falguni speaks about the key shifts she has had to make as Nykaa moved from a start-up phase (where the proof of concept was still being established) to a scale up phase. She speaks about understanding the varying profile of the customer as the organization scales and speaks about how to get the organization ready for scale.
Aligning horizons with investors
Falguni speaks about how she thinks about managing Investors in the context of her desire to build a long term sustainable business at Nykaa. She talks about the need to be transparent in the communication with investors on not just the metrics of the business but the philosophy with which you are building the business.
Setting the goalpost when you are an industry leader
Falguni speaks about the criticality of being focused on what the consumer wants and using that as the guide for coming up with the vision and the aspiration as you grow. When you are often the leader in the market, you don’t have the option of looking at competition and setting the goalpost. She speaks about how she has tried to keep her focus on consumer needs as she has scaled up.
Choices during the McKinsey journey
Rajat speaks about how he evaluated opportunities outside of McKinsey through his journey. He also speaks about how he took stock of various options in front of him when he finished his third term as the Managing Partner at McKinsey.
Athlete to Coach to Entrepreneur
Matt speaks about the transition from being a Triathlete to being a Coach and to being a Business Owner. He speaks about how he thought about the choices at each of these transition points and what made him go down this path.
ROI of transition support
Michael speaks about the business case for Transition Advisory support when leaders take on a new role (internal or external transition). While is it is understood that it is lonely at the top, it is worth recognizing that it is lonelier when you are settling into a new context when leaders do not have an asset of relationships to count on (yet) and don’t have meaningful feedback loops that gives them a sense of how they are doing.
Having deep conversations at scale
Arun talks about how the depth of insight and intimacy gets compromised when we start having conversations across a large number of people. However, he shares his insights around how we could still make such conversations enriching by moving from the layer of data to the layer of how people form their opinions on the data.
In Summary - Playing to Potential
Vinay talks about how Narasimha Rao was a fusion of Don Quixote (somebody who acted without too much thinking) and Hamlet (somebody who thought a lot but didn’t act as much) and how he brought the various shades of gray in his personality to bear as a leader. He talk about how we need to be cognizant of our environment when we think about what we do and how we implement it.
Art of asking good questions
Arun talks about how we could potentially move from understanding the data that somebody presents to us to going deeper in our understanding around why that data is important to the other person and how their experiences have led them to value what they value. He suggests that moving from the What to the Why and the How enables us to get to the next level of insight and intimacy with another person, especially if they are unlike us.
Steering by listening
Arun discusses his definition of a leader – “she or he who takes the first steps towards something that she or he deeply cares about and in ways that others wish to follow”. He talks about the criticality of listening to what other people care about as a key element of building engagement and followership.
Giving feedback by listening
Arun talks about insights from Dalai Lama (who also wrote the foreword for his book) who says that Listening is the first wisdom tool and it is a pre-requisite for reflection, compassion and self-knowledge. Arun discusses why it is important to create a space for the feedback to land on the other side and listening is the path to creating that space.
The art of facilitation
Arun talks about how one must be clear about how one should think about structuring a meeting/conversation. He also suggests different formats depending on different depths to which we wish to go in the conversation. He makes the distinction between discussion, debate, deliberation and dialogue and urges us to be clear about what to use when.
Listening & "Thinking fast and slow"
Arun talks how we might not be feeding our “thinking slow” part of the brain enough (using the phrase made popular by Nobel Prize winning Economist - Daniel Kahneman). He talks about how people now have greater reach in connections but with often diminishing levels of richness. He quotes some recent studies where brains of children have shown to be influenced by this and how this is impacting several areas including how we feel about ourselves, our attitudes and empathy. He re-emphasizes the power of having reading as a habit to further build the muscle of “Thinking Slow”.
Being heard in a noisier world
Arun talks about the downsides of being a good listener and says that sometimes, it might be harder for people to notice you given the noise around them. He also goes on to talk about how sometimes, we embark on a path of making some noise (through marketing, branding etc.) to be heard but he says that sometimes that path changes who we are in the process and by the time we get to the point where we are being heard, we may not be the same listeners any more that we were when we started out. He quotes Sir John Dalberg-Acton and says that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
Listening as a leader
Ambi talks about how effective CEOs set a climate so that their teams feel comfortable presenting risky ideas to them. He talks about how if you don’t set the right atmosphere in the organization, the team below you can hedge their bets and focus on managing their image with the CEO than really solving for what is right for the organization. He discusses how you can create a culture where the team focuses on “winning in the market” rather than “winning in the system”.
Smoke Signals in a relationship
Ambi talks about what it takes to develop and maintain an account over a period of several years. He speaks about the criticality of having tentacles across the organization to get a pulse on the relationship. He also underscores the criticality of the role of the CEO in ensuring that he/she sets the right climate for the troops to share any potential cracks that are appearing in the relationship.
The art of story telling
Ambi talks about what he has learnt from individuals like Late Pradipto Mahapatra, Late Mr Rohinton Aga and Mr M. Damodaran when it comes to storytelling. He draws the connection between storytelling and listening and discusses how it is not a skill-set that can be suddenly implanted into a team or an individual but has to be an integral part of the culture in an organization.
Indranil talks about the criticality of story-listening and how it is critical to ask the right questions to elicit stories. He speaks about the fact that we often have a propensity to ask the How, Why and What questions because we are looking for a net-view but sometimes the rich data can be found by asking the When and the Where questions when you take people back to a moment in time.
Benefits of Journaling
Rich speaks about the benefits of journaling and refers to research in neuroscience that suggests that journaling is superior to typing on a digital device given the speed at which we do each of the activities. He also has some pointers around how people can start the practice of journaling in their lives.
The reflection habit - decoding signal from the noise
Vinay talks about Narasimha Rao’s habit of reflection and journaling which helped him deal with the ecosystem he was in. Vinay talks about how Rao used the habit of journaling to develop a nuanced understanding of the context he was in which helped him deal with situations of grey effectively. He also talks about how he managed to gather intelligence around what was happening around him despite his lonely nature.
In order to be relevant in this digital age, leaders need to adapt to a digital mindset. What does this mindset look like? Abhijit discusses the digital mindset in this nugget and gives anecdotes of how extremely competent leaders of the analog era are struggling to adapt to this. He also shares two important core values which can help in acquiring skills to navigate this digital world. Look out for his views on the future being an ‘&’ world rather than an ‘Or’ world.
Authenticity is a word that is often used by people in different contexts. Pramath shares his perspectives on Authentic leadership and talks about what it takes to get there. He also talks about how he thinks about flexing his leadership style across diverse contexts.
Institution building - Leading Type As
Amit discusses how he thinks about hiring and creating a nurturing climate for his team to deliver performance. He also shares how he invests time with each of his colleagues and help build their capability. He also talks about how he handles exits from Bain Capital. He talks about the realities of a corporate pyramid and stresses the importance of handling the people that don’t go up the pyramid with empathy.
Leadership under extreme constraints - Lion, Fox and Mouse
Vinay talks about how Narasimha Rao combined the notion of intellectual agility (ability to fundamentally shift one’s beliefs when new data presents itself) and implementation agility (knowing how to drive change through a complex system). He talks about how Narasimha Rao could play Lion, Fox or Mouse and the criticality of timing in these situations.
Leadership Development in Social Impact space
Neera talks about some of the common challenges that entrepreneurs in the Social Impact space face. She talks about founders often being “too mission driven” and thereby coming in the way of systems and processes that could build the organization sustainably. She also talks about the Founders not spending enough time on what they are distinctive in leading to spreading themselves across too many areas.
CEO connect with end consumer
Ambi talks about how leaders like Karsanbhai Patel of Nirma have an intuitive understanding of the customer need. He specifically talks about the “chaiwalla test”, a concept he discusses in his book, to talk about how some leaders find smart ways of getting a quick pulse from the real demographic rather than making misleading assumptions.
Leadership at McKinsey across 3 terms
Rajat speaks at length about how he led McKinsey over the 3 terms when he was the Managing Partner. He says that during the first term he co-created the future strategy of the firm and started executing on it. The second term, he says, was largely around driving expansion around the world while establishing key governance processes. The third term, he says, was largely around navigating the dot com crisis after the bubble had burst.