Navigating your career in a large, complex MNC can often be challenging and confusing. Vinita talks about how she navigated her career across different roles in Cadbury's and the Coca Cola company.
Moving from a functional leadership role to a general management role is a big shift and Vinita argues that it is possibly the biggest transition that a leader often makes. She talks about how people should think about success in a General Management role and the need for an adaptive leadership style.
Meher talks about how the baton of leadership passed to her mother (Anu Aga) when her father passed away and how things changed even further when her brother passed away shortly after. She also reflects on the subsequent transition when her mother decided to retire as the Chairperson suddenly that pushed Meher to the saddle.
Meher discusses her approach towards her children getting involved in Thermax moving forward. She talks about the distinction between responsible ownership and day to day management. She also talks about the criticality of external experience before starting within the company (something she misses in hindsight) in case the child wants to get into the management of the company.
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.
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.
Vinay talks about how Narasimha Rao stayed relevant through the various transitions that he went through in his journey. He also talks about how he learns and grows when he did not gets a transition wrong. He also talks about how Narasimha Rao re-invented himself when Congress moved from the Indira Gandhi phase to the Rajiv Gandhi where the core group had several people from an Oxbridge background (far from Narasimha Rao’s comfort zone).
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.
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.
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.
Michael speaks about the key shift when a leader transitions from functional leadership to General Management. He speaks about the default anchoring that people often come with when they move from a function to a General Management role. He specifically speaks about adjusting the unit of analysis and the notion of managing in the white spaces which becomes critical as a General Manager.
Michael speaks about the criticality of leaders transitioning from a competitive mindset to a collaborative mindset where they focus on building alliances and identify opportunities for cross-company collaboration, often even reaching out to rivals to co-create opportunities for the organization.
Michael lays out the key challenges involved when a leader gets promoted and transitions to a context where he/she has to lead a team with several individuals who used to be his/her peers earlier. He gives some useful insights on how leaders could think about re-engineering the relationships while walking the tight rope between being a “Napoleon” and a “Super-peer”.
Michael speaks about the specific challenge when start up entrepreneurs bring in seasoned leaders as they transition from a start-up context to a scale up context. He talks about some of the elements that the entrepreneur and the incoming leader need to bear in mind.
Matt speaks about how athletes come to him with excellence in one or two domains (cycling, running, swimming) but have to quickly come upto speed in a totally different area to be competitive in a multi-sport context. We discuss the parallels between this and how Functional leaders need to transition to General Managers.