Learning as a Leader

Learning as a Leader

Leadership - Learning as a Leader
Learning as a Leader

You must keep learning to grow as a leader to expect and respond to emerging challenges. You’re always busy, and there are no academies or crash courses available. It needs to happen through experimentation as part of your personal and work day. How do you enter and stay in learning mode, set challenging learning goals, experiment, and reflect on the results to learn?


Top 5 Learning Points

  1. How do leaders, in the absence of institutions that teach them to be great leaders, focus on working towards it?
  2. How do organizations create a conducive environment for leaders to learn even while they work?
  3. How do leaders avid complacency and continue to add to their knowledge while giving their best to the role?
  4. How do leaders tap into that knowledge that’s first hand and core to the goal of the business?
  5. What inspires CIOs to learn from- mentors or stories of success and the ability to think fresh, new and fast?
  6. What tough calls would CIOs need to take, just to keep up with the rapidly changing business scenario?


Show Notes

  • The market is changing so fast, it is very tough these days to always have a plan in place, and it is testing the mettle of executives regarding agility.
  • Leaders need to deliver 24X7 and also keep alive their learning process.
  • If you are a leader, you must be prepared to take all of these in your stride. Moreover, if you do not, today, others are waiting in line for your job if you do not deliver.
  • Learning from a leader needs to be continuous, on the job and constant.
  • We need to tap into that knowledge in a way that’s first hand and core to what you are trying to achieve as a business.
  • Succeeding in the new millennium would mean dropping the baggage of experience and welcome the new, fresh eye for business.


Transcript Summary

Leaders, CIOs or non-technology ones, today, have a tough job. They need to be able to deliver almost round the clock because the business demands so, but also make time to enrich their skills. Most organizations give some time to their leaders and especially new ones, to learn and deliver, but there is no respite for their performance. Then how do they make time to continue their learning process? They learn at the job- from team members of the younger generation. Sometimes experience is excess baggage, and leaders need to know how to pick and choose- making a balance between experience and new knowledge, for the benefit of the teams and the business. Leaders need to be inspired, mentored as well, and it may require a very open mind to learn from younger groups, or from competing and other businesses on how they track forward. They need to continually re-invent, to keep abreast and take some hard decisions on what adds value to the company, and what weighs down the speed of growth. The talk shares thoughts on how leaders can carve out the time and be intentional about learning and how organizations can support them for the benefit for all involved.



Sanjog: our topic today is “Learning as a Leader,” and for this discussion, we bring you Bob Baskerville, the Chief Information Officer with Scripps Networks Interactive, and Veneeth Purushothaman, the Chief Information Officer for Fortis Healthcare.

The way I look at this is, the most prominent challenge is that there are no academies that can teach how to be a leader. There is nothing that will allow us to go out and learn on a regular basis on how to be a leader so we can add more value to all the people we lead, as well as organizations.

So, what are the ways by which a leader can focus on learning? How do they figure out a way to create learning goals, experiment, reflect on the results, and then work towards the best results that produce the best outcome for everyone involved? Bob, while we live in very demanding times leadership could be a combination of intuition and preparation. However, do you think you have the time for that?

Bob: I certainly try to make the time. You hit the nail on the head when you said earlier that it is such a fluid world these days. Notably, the space that I work in, which is in media and technology. So, success for us is making sure we connect with consumers. However, today, consumer choices in our space are so fluid and broad sweeping that sometimes all I do is trying to help us enable our businesses, keep teams moving forward and thinking regarding innovation, while not being reactionary. It starts at the top and so it is very tough these days to always have a plan in place. We can try, but the current market conditions are testing the mettle of executives regarding agility. It has been a massive exercise for me.

I have been leading teams in organizations and businesses for a long time. The way we have to respond and do it today, versus how we used to do it less than five years ago, has changed dramatically. However, yes, we always try to be prepared and be in front of what’s coming. We try to lead to change and opportunity but sometimes, there is no choice. It might be coming at you–to use a baseball term- like a fastball, and you need to decide whether to take the swing or not.

…today, consumer choices in our space are so fluid and broad sweeping that sometimes all I do is trying to help us enable our businesses, keep teams moving forward and thinking regarding innovation, while not being reactionary

Sometimes, how we react leads to specific changes. As the adage goes, sometimes it is the things you choose not to do versus what you do, are decidedly more critical in your decision process.

Sanjog: Do you have that immunity? Do you think the organizational and other executive management or the people who report to you or follow you, cut you that slack? Does that happen or is that expected?

Bob: We are working on that. I would call that work in progress. We always have to pay attention to the risks in some of the decisions we make. However, again, in the particular space, we are in, there is a little bit of latitude to acceptance of failure rather than sit and over-analyze what could be coming. So, you anyway try to take the swing from time to time. We do not do it every single time, but sometimes we like to be more in front of changing trends. We probably take a little more risk these days than we have in the past because sometimes speed to market is critical to balance that and market strategies.

I believe my team, the workforce, they are an excellent support for my speed. We have a mindset of getting that balance between waiting for too long, or not waiting long enough!

We probably take a little more risk these days than we have in the past because sometimes speed to market is critical to balance that and market strategies.

Sanjog: Veneeth, the question for any leader is, can they be intentional about learning as they go by doing what they do every day, realistically because they are supposed to get the job done, they are supposed to lead people at that time?

Veneeth: I would say yes, I do not think anybody can stop learning. However, then the expectation is also that you will deliver. Obviously, you can not say that I am learning, and therefore I need more time. Time is what nobody gives you nowadays. Learning is the continuous thing, and I do not think anybody today can say that I know everything. Definitely not with technology, because that is something that’s continually changing. Yes, we have the luxury of learning but not at the cost of the deliverable.

Sanjog: Bob, based on what Veneeth just mentioned, we do not have the time. Even the pressure of the work or the different variety of and the volume of work do you get to handle, could you not still say, okay, I am going to say yes to only so many things so that it does not impede my learning cause? Because, if you do not learn you are bringing less of yourself to the job that you are given. What stops you from saying, “No more?”

Bob: We are trying to be more measured in those responses, and again sometimes, it is just as important to identify what you cannot do versus what you are committed to doing. However, when you are in a publicly traded company where you are managing some constituents for success and growth — that is the challenge in our world these days. Growth has always been a given, but now it is even more demanding when you consider everything that’s happening around us too.

Coming back to the theme to the whole learning of the leader is about how to balance between the best opportunities and ones that might use too much use resources for too little RoI. Though that has been an old subject, today those decisions are critical, for deciding what projects we pursue and try to capitalize on.

You asked how I get the opportunity to make sure that I am continuing to enrich my growth and my learnings with working past business hours. For me, once I get home, get the kids to bed and have had dinner with the family, I spend time reading and try to learn more. While I do not want to say it is a 24/7 world regarding learning, but it is every business day to focus your time and efforts on work or to be able to learn and grow your mindshare of things. I do not think it exists like that anymore.

Sanjog: When you hire a staff member, you identify and accept them with some gaps and know the areas for improvement. However, for a leader, we want them to be fully cooked. If it is such an approach, are we not having the organizations inviting the leader assuming that they do not need to do anything more to develop as a person and thus the team takes a passive role in developing a leader. Is that how we are hiring leaders? With that mindset, are we not holding ourselves back? Veneeth, this is a question for you. This is regarding the very hiring, when a leader gets introduced in an organization, unlike a staff member, we expect that person to have everything that they could have. As a leader, to do everything possible that an organization wants. However, that is, of course, an assumption, and a weak resumption because, of course, there are areas that you could grow. Yet, if the organization is not looking at you as someone with a focus on growth, then they may not proactively allow you to have that environment where you can learn. Is this not adversary, what I would call is not a just conducive environment for you in any organization as you come in?

Veneeth: Yes, you are right. That is how it happens most of the time. As a leader, I am not going by a copybook kind of a reply, but if you call yourself a leader, you are expected to deal with all of these pressures. You are supposed to deliver from day one, to hit the road running. That is why you come in at a senior leadership role. That expectation comes from what they have heard about you, what they believe they have seen in your profiles, and in your resume. That hope is built over previous roles. Over and above that it depends on a lot on the position that you come in, whom you report to, what kind of organization you get into, all of that plays a role. You could have much freedom to work or have a boss who’s expecting that from day one. It is a mix of everything, Sanjog. I do not think that we can straight away put it in straight line saying yes. However, in my view, they must be prepared. If you are a leader, you must be prepared to take all of these in your stride. Moreover, today there are many contenders in line for your job if you do not deliver.

Sanjog: Veneeth, interesting the way you said that there are others waiting in line. Bob, I do not feel that if a leader is going to carry out their ... Read Full Transcript v  


Bob Baskerville, Chief Information Officer, Scripps Networks Interactive

Bob Baskerville Chief Information Officer, Scripps Networks Interactive Bob Baskerville was named the chief information officer for Scripps Networks Interactive in the fall of 2013, continuing his impressive tenure at the lifestyle me... More   View all posts

Veneeth Purushotaman, Chief Information Officer, Fortis Healthcare

Veneeth Purushotaman has Over two decades of experience in technology enablement, transition and transformation in Pharma, Education, Retail and Healthcare sectors. Currently working as the CIO at Fortis Healthcare Ltd driving standardizati... More   View all posts
Add Comment
Click here to post a comment

Subscribe to Podcast

Download Mobile App


Guardicore MPU 300X250

Follow Us


Bob Baskerville


Not Member Yet?


  • Minimum length of 8 characters