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7 Questions with CK Taneja
7 Questions with CK Taneja
Name: CK Taneja
Current title: Director Strategy and Business Transformation Coach
Current organisation: Chinmayam Consultants Inc
CK has very rich experience and strategic perspective in solving daunting business problems for clients in Manufacturing, Banking and Finance, Insurance, Healthcare and Media and Content, spanning over 30 years. He has 20 years of program/project and change management experience, 16 years of experience in Agile, 9 years of experience as an Agile/DevOps Coach. He is skilled across all facets of Program / Project management using WATERFALL, AGILE (SCRUM, KANBAN, SCRUMBAN, SAFe, Scrum@Scale, LeSS and hybrid frameworks, including, developing process, protocols & systems.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
The most challenging thing as a Leader of a Small or medium enterprise is the constant switch between roles, wearing multiple hats and juggling multiple balls. Another challenge is to keep the brand equity high so that clients continue to trust the organization (after all there is no big brand name to support)
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I climbed the ladder in large organizations from being a grassroots level employee, working as hardware technician, programmer, team leader, project leader, project manager to reach the top as the Director / Board member for multiple organizations, leading a few as CEO and Managing Director. I realized that leading large companies was good but didn't give me the creative freedom that I wanted with my role. I thus co-founded multiple small companies, each focused on their own lines of business and freedom to grow or stay small as the desire be. I also brought in like minded leaders who wanted to have the benefits of small company and freedom to pursue passion.
In 2007, I co-founded Career Advisory LLC, focusing on Mentoring students to make their career choices as per their core competencies and excel in life. We also offer consulting to educational institutes in staying Agile and become profitable.
In 2010 I acquired majority stake in Vriksh Consulting LLP (India). The company focuses on helping leadership in organizations to become effective by adopting de-centralization in decision making while staying aligned to the Organizational vision. This helps the organization to be adaptive and responsive and thus stay ahead as a leader in their segment.
In 2012, I founded First Choice Realty as a Real Estate advisory firm. As part of this company we help the Real Estate developers and brooking community to become responsive to changing needs to customers and stay ahead of the curve. We helped various startups in the space of Real Estate to bring cutting edge solutions to the market that was fragmented (in India). While the sector in general has stayed sluggish, our clients have all been profitable and successful in their business.
In 2015, I co-founded Chinmayam Consultants Inc with an objective of helping Executive Leadership in Small - Medium organization and Mid-level leaders in Large corporates to succeed in their role by adapting to newer ways of working. In this venture we not only helped individuals but also ended up helping the companies with their strategy to adapt to ever changing market needs.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I get up about 5:30 am and spend 30 minutes for morning routine followed by 30 minutes of meditation. Then I take a dive into my work with a jug full of coffee. I have client meetings and coaching sessions for about 10 hrs on an average day. I do manage to squeeze in some discussions with prospects. I spend about 45-60 minutes a day reading / listening to new information to expand my horizon and learning. I usually have weekly connects with leaders of my other organizations which are about 30 minutes a day.
by about 7:30 pm I switch off work and its time for family. I spend time with my dad learning from his experience and taking guidance on some challenges of my work. Get updated by 20 minutes of news. Wish friends and family on their birthdays and anniversaries (Good way to connect and catch up)... if you are wondering about health and fitness, I am not a fan of that.. so I have no time slotted for that. ... I sleep by about 1:00 am or slightly later... I find 4 hours of sleep is good for me.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Every engagement and conversation is a lesson in itself... However, the most recent one was the Bias we all carry in our day to day work. it seems we have so many hidden biases that influence our working, decision making and judgement. I started getting aware of my biases and have also brought these up with the leaders I get to mentor and coach to make them aware of their biases...
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
My leadership style has evolved because of learnings from various books, teaching and guidance from my grandparents and parents and my experiences. There are multiple books that have taught me different lessons. However, if I was to mention one book that had a profound impact on my leadership style is GEETA. The book is a lesson on every aspect of life. Though it is a Leadership lesson given to Arjuna in the middle of the battlefield, just when the war was about to start, it addresses dilemmas of a leader in any situation and is very practical and pragmatic in its approach. I learn something new every time I go through it.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
I have built capacity by enabling people within the organization by building culture of accepting failure as part of success and then building the capability within people to take decisions at their level without having to seek permission from Leaders. The guardrails of alignment to the vision are set and clarity in alignment to vision is created. People know that they own the decisions and they have support if things go wrong. I know that mistakes are inevitable as long as people keep learning from them, then it is acceptable. This has helped me and the leaders I mentor get out of day to day decision making and focus on the bigger picture.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
I had some incredible time building Vriksh Consulting. We used to miss-out on business since the person who was incharge for brining in sales wanted decisions to be made by the CEO of the company. We had a discussions with the CEO and the sales person. Got them to understand that what category of clients we needed and the flexibility of price setting was within the domain of Sales person. We discussed all scenarios on how decision making could be done by Sales person and CEO could let go of control. With this put into action and no micro management by CEO, the company profits soared. The trainers were busier, bill rates went higher and overall revenue and profitability increased. Shubhashish, the CEO was thankful that he was out of decision making on every sales call and every training / mentoring session booked. He could focus on meeting clients and keeping them happier.