As a Senior Program Manager for Honeywell Aerospace, Arvind joined our Practice Program in 2018 to enable Director level responsibilities with an increase in P&L, global cross-business unit assignments, increased staff and improved business acumen.
Arvind Raizada shares his perspectives in two ways below: First, through our webinar sharing experiences on our Agile Leadership Journey Practice Program; and Second, as an excerpt of his personal change story written as part of the program…
Sharing Experiences via Webinar Video
Sharing Experiences via a Change Story…
My Leadership Context:
Starting off as a self-aware, ambitious, achieving person with a high level of impatience and slightly pessimistic attitude, I’ve always been passionate about my work and overused my strengths to compensate for weaknesses. I’m overly protective about my team, independent, and a data driven person who can (and likes) to work with minimal oversight & guidance. For the most part, I used to embody the Expert and gradually, over the last few years moved to an Achiever behavior characteristic. During the initial self-assessment, I was in Catalyst mode only on a measly six dimensions out of twenty four. Almost all other dimensions were centered in Achiever or bordering on the verge of Catalyst. I couldn’t visualize a problem with this approach since moving to a people management role in July 2017 until after completing the Certified Agile Leadership 1 (CAL 1) Awareness Workshop in December of 2017. At the start the Certified Agile Leadership 2 (CAL 2) Practice Program, I wasn’t sure of how deep the Expert/Achiever traits were ingrained in my behavioral DNA.
My Leadership Development Focus:
At the start of CAL 2 cohort, I completed a self-assessment and obtained a 360-degree feedback from peers, subordinates and superiors. It gave me a lot to ponder and process. I had to re-read it several times. I can take criticism and feedback to improve but this was the start of a new chapter which was more deeply introspective than all of my past experiences. After the initial denial phase, I was very happy and surprised by the feedback on some of the dimensions. It raised serious questions about the situational leadership I leverage; it may not necessarily be the best fit, although I have achieved adequate results nevertheless. I gave the impression, “I’m always right; wouldn’t facilitate a collaborative environment”, to my peers and stakeholders and a complete 180-degree to my subordinates.
Based on this feedback and in my discussions with my leadership coach, I envisioned that the catalyst would ignite a radical personality change. I would have to become someone who “enabled everyone to put their point across”, “balance top-down and bottom-up drive on execution / decision making”, “listen without pre-judging”, “mentor people who are not A-team, since B-team holds the fort” and “deal with my harshest critics and be open to other’s viewpoint graciously”. I knew this was not going to be easy.
My Leadership Growth:
In the initial conversations with my leadership coach and cohort peers, I could barely hold a catalyst conversation or provide examples from daily engagements. Gradually, I pushed myself to become curious about other individuals’ thoughts, showcase genuine interest in hearing others’ opinion, give benefit of doubt, and provide affirmative confirmation that I was an engaged listener. It took several engagements with my peers and senior leaders to reach a stage where I wouldn’t enter a conversation with a pre-meditated drive or conclusions. In initial months, I could see that I acted incorrectly while reflecting after the conversation.
Quickly, I progressed to a stage, when I could correct myself in the conversation, mid-sentence and then have a more holistic engagement. It took a while to be a person who didn’t feel the need to win every battle and pick them wisely. I graduated with great efforts to a mindset wherein I was able to casually ask open-ended questions to ascertain details without being judgmental and provide my perspective towards the end of the conversation and get a win-win convergence. I have practiced it ever since. In the last few months while facing challenges and being in difficult conversations, I haven’t lost my balance. I have earned the respect of many peers and admiration of senior organizational leaders.
Through the course of the program, I have been offered an opportunity to take senior leadership roles on two different occasions which would have aligned to my leadership goals. One, in the initial phase of the program, I declined as I wasn’t sure if I was prepared. The latter was a more of a personal choice not to pursue. In either case, I believe my leadership growth in mindset and behavior has contributed to these new opportunities.
While joining the CAL 2 Program was an impulsive decision, the engagement with participants and facilitators in the program initiated a personal transformation journey for myself. I believe my transformation continues as I explore the usage of catalyst conversations in many personal and professional dimensions…
“Life is a never ending journey of reaching out of our comfort zones. We can always reach new goals.”