Inflection points are when the notion of “what got you here won’t get you there” hold. Whether it is a company moving from a start-up to a scale-up or a leader moving from a CXO to a CEO role, these passages of play have to be navigated carefully as there is a high risk of derailment.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
100 - year life
Lynda speaks about how we are moving from a 3 stage paradigm (study-work-retire) to a paradigm where we are going to be moving across these three phases in a fluid manner over our life time. She speaks about the key insights from her influential book - 100 year life – that she authored with Andrew Scott (Professor of Economics and former Deputy Dean at London Business School).
From 3 stages to multiple stages
Lynda says that in the earlier paradigm, people made two transitions. Study to work and work to retire. And they made it in lock step, with the herd (peer cohort). In a multi-stage life, she says that we all make transitions at different points in time and that can be unnerving. She also speaks about the need to focus on recreation to ensure re-creation of our professional journeys.
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.
Shaping one's journey
Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi speaks about how he has shaped his path and has made choices along the way. He speaks about how he has handled the various pulls and pressures to move in a certain direction to stay true to his purpose.
What is the shape of your story
Bruce speaks about how our stories often take different twists and turns that we don’t really anticipate beforehand. He speaks about how non-linear our lives have become and how life transitions are a skill that we all must master to go through this effectively.
Disruptors and Lifequakes
Bruce speaks about how his research led him to identifying 52 different disruptors that could change our life context across 5 categories – Relationships, Identity, Beliefs, Work and Body. He speaks about how his research suggests that we might go through a disruptor every 12-18 months and how one in 10 ends up being a lifequake. He speaks about how we end up spending half of our adult lives in transition without having any adequate training on how to deal with this.
Midlife to Whenever life transition
Bruce speaks about the notion that transitions happen to us all the time and not at a particular stage of life. He specifically talks about the limitations of the transition model espoused by Gail Sheehy who suggests that mid-life transitions often occur around late 30s and early 40s. He goes onto say that voluntary or involuntary transitions could happen at any time in our lives.
Taking a pause
Harish speaks about him taking a sabbatical 25 years into his career. He reflects on the fact that he was in a good place in his career and there were enough forces that were urging him to continue. He speaks about what he gained from the pause.
Breaking the Catch-22 of mediocre talent
Harsh speaks about how he broke the cycle of mediocre talent that a lot of companies struggle to do. He speaks about hiring his CHRO from XLRI and how he went about building the quality of talent from there.
Winding journey to entrepreneurship
Dorie speaks about how she started with a degree in Theology from Harvard Divinity School and then tried her hand at Journalism, Politics and other fields that has got her to her current role that includes teaching, speaking, writing, Coaching and Consulting.
Key choices post the Corporate path
Ravi speaks about some of the choices he has made post his corporate career spanning Cummins and Microsoft. He speaks about how he has thought about the portfolio of things that he has architected and how the portfolio has evolved over time. He also discusses how one could think about doing one thing versus pursuing a portfolio.
Choices post financial independence
Ayelet speaks about how having clear goals can show us the path but our ability to stick to the path is determined by our intrinsic motivation in walking that journey and the joy we experience in it.
Passing the Baton
Tarun speaks about how family businesses think about the next generation coming into the family business. He speaks about how sometimes the next-gen wants to pursue a different path and how they walk the tight rope of ensuring continuity versus tuning into the passions of the next generation.
Managing dual careers
Manjari speaks about how she and her husband (also a batchmate from National Police Academy) juggled their careers and personal lives given the pulls and pressures at various points in time.
Rafael Nadal and Rituals
Ethan speaks about the role of rituals in helping us manage chatter. He goes on to speak about how Champions like Rafael Nadal take the help of rituals in managing their mind when they play tennis at the highest level. He also speaks about the role of rituals in coping with transitions.
TAGSHabits Inflection Points
HUL to McKinsey to Transformation Work
Michiel speaks about the arc of his journey and how he shifted trajectories over time and over time his interests and passions shifted from Sales, Marketing and General Management at Unilever to driving Personal Transformation at McKinsey and beyond.
Sowing the seeds for the next innings
Chris speaks about how Roger thought about success at various points in time but at the same time was sowing the seeds for his next innings of his life (e.g., the connect with Bill Gates in the context of his Foundation).