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From Function Head to Business Head: One step for an individual but a giant leap for the Organization

Source | LinkedIn | Kinjl Choudhary | Senior Vice President Human Resources at Paytm

I once used to know a Business Leader who had risen through the Functional ranks to head a reasonably large business as the CEO. He had been an outstanding Finance professional who knew his stuff exceedingly well and always managed to impress his bosses with his financial acumen. Each time he got promoted he seemed to do even better and won the confidence of his superiors year on year. This went on till he was promoted to be the CEO of the business. This is the Leadership Passage (# Ram Charan) from being a Functional Manager to being a Business Manager.

 To begin with, it seemed it was the perfect choice. The business did very well financially and all the financial metrics were picture perfect. However, what was not apparent was the fact that this individual had not really turned the corner from being a Functional Manager to being a Business Manager. It was not apparent because the company was in a familiar business environment with its predictable ups and downs and nothing much was really unpredictable about the environment. This is true more often than not and especially as one moves up the Leadership Pipeline (#Ram Charan) it is often not visible whether the person has made the successful transition or not as long as the business is in a familiar terrain.

 The most critical point in this leadership passage transition from being a functional manager to a business manager is to be able to understand and appreciate the functions other than the one in which one has been born and brought up in. That is not easy because after all one has spent years and would have done very well to have moved up the ranks in one’s chosen Function and therefore sees the world from the lenses of that Function. Few organizations actually rotate people across Functions on their way up and hence most people who end up with a business manager role are the ones who have spent almost their entire working lives till that point in a single Function. 

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