Business today is complex, uncertain, and constantly changing. From digitalization to the global pandemic, leaders have seen it all. In such an uncertain and changing environment, How can leaders sustain themselves in the future?
In this episode of The Payal Nanjiani Leadership Podcast, Payal Nanjiani a Leadership expert, world-renowned executive coach, and a New York award-winning author goes one on one with Kishore Jayaraman — President of Rolls-Royce India and South Asia. You can listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts.
Payal: From day 1, Did you always had a purpose, did you always knew where you want to reach, and what you want to do?
Kishore: There is a difference between purpose and NorthStar. A north star is a goal where we say this is where we want to be, this is where we want to go. But a purpose more importantly defines why we should do a good job at whatever we do. And to me, every job has a purpose.
When I first started off as an engineer, my purpose was to make sure that I was the best engineer and that whatever I did would be done to the perfection of my stakeholders including my boss, my company, and my customers.
So now when I switched over from technology and moved to project management, my purpose got redefined to saying that I need to make sure that I am able to serve the customer without compromising the company.
When I became commercial director, at that time I was purely into managing the sales team, business development, and strategies around winning an order. So that period of time I had a different purpose because there I started thinking more about growth. So then I had to repurpose myself into what I thought was the right thing to do and immediately after that I started getting into business leadership when I moved to India and so when I was in India, the whole thing was to be that bridge between the United States and India and my purpose was to make sure America or my company, leaders in my company, understood the needs of India and made sure the needs of the company, a multinational engineer, was understood by the Indians.
Payal: What leadership qualities do you think would be of maximum importance going forward?
Kishore: The first one would be adaptability. The second one would be agility. The third one would be authenticity. I believe that future leaders will have to combine these three in some form or the other because to me adaptability is about change and their ability to manage change. Agility is the pace at which we can do the change. Authenticity is about self-realization and understanding who we are so that we can appropriately tune ourselves to the people or the stakeholders that we work with. So today, these will be the three qualities of the future leader.
Payal: What would it take for leaders to develop these qualities now?
Kishore: Well, I think for people who did not have these qualities, the pandemic kind of brought these qualities out in everybody. At the end of the day, people work for a reason whether it be for monetary reasons or for personal satisfaction reasons. Regardless of it, there is always a reason why people work and why people relate to each other in the world we live in. If a person understands that there is going to be a constant need to adapt, it makes the individual stealthier and more prepared in order to handle the change. Change is going to be around us all throughout our lives.
Payal: Who would you consider your mentor and why?
Kishore: I think, I can’t say I had a mentor because I really didn’t understand that world fully. Mentorship is seen as somebody who will come into your job or somebody who would come and help you with a recommendation that takes you to a job. To me, those are not pure mentors but people who make a change in your lives that is so profound that a path is completely redefined. They are the people I think of as mentors.
In my life, there was this gentleman, Jim Benrel in the USA, in 1991 the first time I met him in Taiwan. We had dinner. I was a failed engineer, and he hosted a dinner for all the failed engineers. He was the head of the project school. Luckily or unluckily, fortunately, or unfortunately, I sat next to him. We just talked about a lot of things here and there. Simple talk, nothing fancy. Then after that, I never saw him again. After about 6 years, in 1996, I decided to move from technology to the commercial world. I went to him and said I am very keen on going into the commercial world. I don’t have any ideas. We had a chat and he said projects would be a good reach for you to get into the commercial world. You will understand commercials, you are a technical person. These are a few technical projects with a lot of commercials. He gave me a job. It’s not that I asked for a job, I asked for guidance but he created that job and gave me an opportunity to prove myself. And then I grew in that organization to be the number one project manager in that group and was linked to the most complex projects. He said you have to win and get your next job. I am not here to get you the next job, I am here to guide you, to counsel you if I feel that there is something you can do better.
Change is going to be around us all throughout our lives.
Date: 21 October 2022