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Leadership Series: YSC Experiences

by Rachna Chawla, Rob Morris
29.May.2017 Leadership Programmes

Ahead of his trip to India in June, YSC’s Head of Innovation, Rob Morris, speaks to Rachna Chawla, Head of YSC India about his experience of leadership development. Rob reflects on his 20 years experience, how different roles have influenced him, as well as his position at YSC.

In this, the third of our Leadership Series, Rob reflects on how previous experience has supported his work at YSC.

How does [your experience at West Point] translate to your experience leading at YSC or consulting with senior leaders?

Today, the way that plays out for me as an executive at YSC, is that I understand my role and I think I understand when to lead and when to follow.

As with most executive teams, ours seeks input and maximum involvement from around the table. We expect people to opine and participate on critical strategic decisions.  With this important responsibility, I believe we need to exercise good followership in knowing when to opine and when not to. In a team of ten smart, experienced leaders, anyone can create a cogent argument against taking a certain decision, and if that happens frequently then we will never generate momentum. We certainly don’t get it right every time, and I see this all the time in my clients as well, especially those who are seeking to increase involvement and create an inclusive environment.

One bank I work with struggles to make decisions on issues that have multiple ‘right’ answers or where there is a lot of ambiguity. After observing several team meetings in which they debated endlessly one topic, I realized that just as a decision was about to be reached, someone would raise a new issue or re-litigate an old one. This often happened at the end of the meeting as well, so there was no way to resolve it. The end result was the same: they kicked the can down the road to the next meeting, where this vicious cycle continued. This continued for six meetings, until we spotted the pattern and analysed it together. The team revisited its decision criteria – specifically whether they needed 100% consensus or just a large majority to move forward. This helped unlock that vicious cycle so they could move forward.

In the end, I reflected on my experience in the military where we made significant decisions in fractions of the time it takes even some of the best executive teams. I think knowing when to lead and when to follow was critical to our ability to do so.


YSC India is holding two events in June to discuss How to Identify and Develop Potential in Your Business. For more information and to register your attendance, go to the Events page.

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