settling into a new context
Figuring out “where to go” is only a part of the challenge for leaders in transition. How you land effectively in a new context is as critical. Hair line cracks often become full blown fractures if not attended to carefully. Leaders talk about some key lessons Individuals could bear in mind as they transition across contexts (Army to Business world, US to India, MNC to Family Business, Consulting to Industry/Investing etc.)
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.
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.
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 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 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.
More from Indranil Chakraborty
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.
More from Dr. Ramachandra Guha
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.
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.
Sports to Business to Coaching
Alan speaks about Bill Campbell’s journey and the various transitions he has been through – from being a Football Coach to becoming a Business Executive to Leadership Coaching where he worked with several luminaries such as Steve Jobs, Founders of Google, Eric Schmidt, Sheryl Sandberg, Al Gore. He also speaks about how Bill transitioned from one canvas to another and what stayed the same across these stints.
Plateau of latent potential
James speaks about the shape of the compounding curve and speaks about how we should think about motivating ourselves to persist despite no visible progress in the lower parts of the curve where the outcomes are not apparent. He specifically talks about the notion of the plateau of latent potential where suddenly the cumulative efforts bear fruit in a dramatic fashion. He speaks about the kind of feedback loops we need to set for ourselves and the markers that will help us chip away at foothills of the compounding curve.
Settling in - Rock climbing versus Running
RG speaks about how transitioning from one context to another is a bit like moving from driving a race car to rock climbing. You need to feel the surface before you transfer your weight and move forward. He speaks about the criticality of adopting (not appointing) mentors around you. These informal mentors often act as a feedback loop for the leader to course correct ensuring that hairline cracks becoming fractures.
Having the right relationship with the Board
RG speaks about the criticality having a healthy friendly relationship with the Board. He speaks about the narrative that CEOs often have around Board members being another “layer to manage”. He suggests that if we instead treat them as founts of wisdom and as mentors, there is a lot of value that CEOs can unlock from the Board members.
Clementine Mirror - the role of spouses
RG speaks about the criticality of seeking and absorbing the feedback from the people around you. He speaks about the role of a spouse who observes us in high resolution and says that they (or close friends or a trusted colleague or a board member) could act as a concave psychological mirror. He speaks about the story of Clementine Churchill ( wife of Winston Churchill ) whose “feedback letter” to her husband is kept in a museum in London.
Bringing in adequate porosity
RG speaks about the role of the leader bringing in adequate open-ness and a prototyping mindset to the way he or she sculpts his or her ideas. If he or she has the habit of “baking it too much” in his or her mind and then present to the others as a sales pitch it might be bad for business and for the leader’s trust quotient with the ecosystem around.
Getting cross-industry transitions right
RG speaks about how leaders coming in from one context can effectively adapt to a completely new context especially when they do not have a working knowledge of the new space. He underscores the importance of humility, open-ness to learning to build trust and come up the learning curve in the new environment.
Managing transitions when power flips
Vinay speaks about how the two phases of transition played out when the power shifted between Vajpayee and Advani. He speaks about the how the transitions were not sudden and how the two leaders handled themselves in the situation.
More from Vinay Sitapati - Jugalbandhi
Discerning the "mandate"
Ramesh speaks about the construct of the Bower Forum – McKinsey’s program for CEO learning. He speaks about some of the themes that come up in the Bower Forum and specifically speaks about the notion of discerning the mandate and how leaders from within or from the outside can do this in a thoughtful way.
Getting senior leader transitions right
Hari and Sanjeev speak about how start-ups can be thoughtful about getting senior leadership transitions right. They speak about what organizations can do at the stage of hiring and what they can do at the time of the leaders transitioning in.
Darleen sheds light on how leaders and organizations can get more thoughtful in the way they get the cultural assimilation right when a new leader comes on board. Leadership derailment is a lot more about Leaders missing out on the “how” of a job rather than the “what” of the job.
Impact on leadership transitions
Amy speaks about how psychological safety becomes even more critical in the context of a leadership transition. She speaks about the criticality of the incoming leader to portray humility and curiosity as he/she settles into a new context. She talks about the case of Alan Mulally, who transitioned from Boeing to Ford Motor Company when it was bleeding about USD 17 Billion dollars a year. She speaks about how he embodied situational humility to transition effectively to win the trust and respect and drive the turnaround.
Moving from a Large Org to a Start up
Sukhinder speaks about her transition from Google to Accel as a CEO in residence post which she moved in as a CEO at Polyvore. She speaks about some of the challenges in establishing a healthy dynamic with the Founder and the Board and the criticality of values fit in addition to complementary of skills and capabilities.
Handling Leadership transitions
Alisa speaks about how Entrepreneurs need to be thoughtful about assimilating new leaders and equip the incoming leaders with adequate context for them to succeed. She also goes on to speak about how Entrepreneurs need to re-onboard themselves as the context changes.
Creating the emotional infrastructure
Raghu speaks about the Nakula archetype that often creates the emotional infrastructure in an organization. He speaks about how such leaders might have to flex and demonstrate some of their other elements to build trust when they move to a new context. He also speaks about the link between having this emotional infrastructure and agility that a company might need to respond to sharp changes in the reality of the world.
More from Raghu Ananthanarayanan
Warmth Vs Competence
Jeffrey speaks about how we need to be careful about how we signal our warmth vs how we project our competence especially in situations where people are meeting you for the first time.