5 Tips for Budding Leaders on Surviving in the B-game

This is an excerpt from the book ‘Crash: Lessons from the Entry and Exit of CEOs’ written by Ramamoorthy Gopalakrishnan. In this book, the author shows that great leaders continue to excel not just because of their skills and intelligence but also by connecting with others using emotional competencies like empathy and self-awareness.
While many people talk about the path to the top of organizations, very few are honest about how difficult it is to stay at that position. R. Gopalakrishnan analyses the ‘software’ challenges, which leaders confront every day, and shares the insights he has gained developing, managing, investing in and supervising a variety of companies.

Here are 5 tips for budding leaders on surviving in the B-game:

1. You are completely accountable

“Leaders operate in an environment, and their actions and judgements cannot be separated from their environment. So the totality of the event and the leader’s role in the event might offer more valid lessons than anything else.”

2. Experiential learning is the best teacher

“The model of three worlds indicates that leaders learn and develop in their inner world, the world of people, and the world of getting things done. Managers learn lessons through their insights and experiences. By definition, insight is experiential and cannot be taught or preached.”
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3. Absorb the surrounding culture around you

“Each leader described has been a professional of considerable accomplishment and flair, each of them had built a career which was exemplary. Each of them rose in the world of business during my own times, each was noticed by me as part of my readings, and each of them exited his/her position of power in spite of being acclaimed as a ‘terrific find’. These leaders did not part on ethical grounds or corruption, but because of ‘cultural differences’. They were all top-quality leaders, rose very impressively and exited, in most cases, due to some perception of the lack of the cultural fit of the candidate.”

4. Don’t be surprised if your friend circle shrinks

“It’s lonely at the top is a popular adage. However, a leader should not make such a big deal out of it that he or she becomes isolated. Deep suspicions about the motives of your colleagues, silence when you should be speaking up and keeping your ears tuned to whispers and murmurs—these are all symptoms of a derailing leader.”

5. Always seek advice on difficult matters

“Don’t hesitate to show that you need advice or that you are unsure about which option you should pursue while addressing a particular problem. CEOs should not feel that they have to present themselves as the great, all-knowing leader. After all, deep inside, they know that they do not match that description.”
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Filled with anecdotes, analysis of various situations CEOs may find themselves in and unconventional advice to help them, Crash: Lessons from the Entry and Exit of CEOs is for veteran leaders as well as for those who aspire to start their own ventures.

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