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The Corporate Wonderland

Leaders are at their best when they learn to be comfortable about their vulnerabilities and beliefs and learn to observe their own actions, dispassionately suspending their beliefs

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Abraham Lincoln 

Mahatma Gandhi 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

What do they have in common? 

On the surface nothing, really. But go a bit deeper and you see what separates them from the rest! 

The holy grail of true Leadership in the world emerges every now and then in various fields and we learn something new! 

The attempt across various columns is to find the Leadership Algorithm! 

How can we bring to the fore ‒ Effective and Compelling Leadership!

Leadership is a combination of the external world and the internal world! 

How do the two work? What are the variables at play?  And what are some of the winning permutations and combinations? 

The idea is to bring to the fore the key variables and how they interact with one another. Through examples and experiences! 

Leadership that turns organisations into institutions. 

The leadership algorithm in an industry that is like a Wonderland! 


Is the corporate world like Alice in wonderland … as conceived by the world-famous author Lewis Carol as early as 150 years ago? 

It took Alice courage to enter a rabbit hole to find a land inside, which gave her so many life lessons. 

How often, navigating through our stages in life and navigating through Corporate life we realise that true leadership lessons are rooted in Environments, Experiences and Evolution.

What do we mean by the above?

*Environments: Don’t get stuck in the past!

 Every organisation has a unique smell of the place – we call it “culture”. 

When leaders walk into an organisation, they carry a “tool kit” from their past organisations. Invariably we assume that just because we succeeded in that environment, we will also succeed in the new environment.  

How often we have heard leaders say, “in my past organisation it used to be done like this.  We have often seen leaders continuing to rattle out experiences from their first jobs, sometimes as early as 15 years. We call this the “leaders’ hard disk”. Many memories are recorded there and act as a subconscious driver of their behaviour. Some may serve well and some may be doomed to fail.  

At the time of hiring, what is totally invisible is the “hard disk” of the leader.  

So the point to ponder for both leaders and organisations is this: 

If Alice could find her way in wonderland and succeed, leaders need to introspect if they can park their “tool kit” in the parking lot and enter an organisation with an open mind of curiosity, just the way Alice entered the rabbit hole.

*Experiences: Discover who you are!

We are a product of our past experiences, said Freud. 

Our experiences in life right from childhood, shape our behaviours. That’s the lens that we use to see the world and plan our strategies and actions. When we meet people, subconsciously we are judging their intentions and actions. 

This set of our experiences forms what we call “leadership traits” that we bring into the wonderland. Others experience us through our actions and not by our intentions.  

The biggest challenge for leaders, therefore, is Authenticity. We are all imposters wearing a mask of how we want others to perceive us, rather than be comfortable with who we are. 

When caterpillar asks Alice, “who are you?” she can’t find a simple answer because she has changed her shape and form since she fell into the rabbit hole. This is a question that begs an answer for all of us.  It calls for self-introspection and in spirituality, we call it “contemplation”.  

Leaders are at their best when they learn to be comfortable about their vulnerabilities and beliefs and learn to observe their own actions, dispassionately suspending their beliefs.

*Evolution: Accept the differences of others and stand up for yourself! 

Every leader seeks success infinite. 

The higher they are in the rung of hierarchy the more distant they are from the ground realities. 

More often, when we reach a certain level of success, our observation is that learning stops and arrogance kicks in.  This then turns into blind spot navigation. We stop accepting the diverse viewpoints of others … start believing that it’s a mad, mad, world. 

“My dear here we must run as fast as we can to stay in the same place. And if you wish to go somewhere, you must run twice as fast,” said the Queen in Alice in Wonderland.  

Participating in this race requires faster internal evolution for leaders. It is no use going back to yesterday.

"It’s no use going back to yesterday, I was a different person then," Alice tells the Mock Turtle and Gryphon. 

So the lesson here is that the future cannot be an extrapolation of the past. By closing past chapters, we can write a new future, form new beliefs and evolve into a level 5 leader.

Join us in this journey to discover the new chapter of Leadership! 

Hopefully, you will find the algorithm that creates value for organisations in the Corporate Wonderland! 

K. A. Narayan, President -HR, Raymond Ltd, fondly known as KAN in industry for his well- known ‘Can Do’ attitude and Sunandan Bhanja Chaudhury, Client Partner, Pedersen & Partners, known as SU among friends and family, both off and on the golf course!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 24 Sep 2022

Sunandan Bhanja Chaudhury

The author is Client Partner, Pedersen & Partners, is known as SU by friends and family, both off and on the golf course!

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K. A. Narayan

The author is President -HR, Raymond, email ID

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