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Excerpt from RIDING THE TIGER: Leading Through Learning in Turbulent Times by Priscilla Nelson and Ed Cohen, published by ASTD Press, May 2010

Employee Retention: Moving Up the Employee Relationship Chain

by Ed Cohen and Arunav Sinha

We believe moving up the “relationship chain” is critical for organizations.  A long-lasting relationship that converts to strong retention is the desired results for companies that want to sustain themselves through good times and bad. 

We define the employee relationship chain as:

Stage 1: Share of Opportunity – Contract

Stage 2: Share of Mind – Partnership

Stage 3: Share of Heart – Relationship

These stages have been studied and utilized extensively in the world of marketing and branding. We believe it adds equal if not greater value to the world of employee retention.

Learn more about moving up the relationship chain and participate in the dialogue:  Winning the New War for Talent, a one-day Executive Workshop with Ed Cohen and special guest, Priscilla Nelson.

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Stage 1: Share of Opportunity – Contract

When a company makes an offer that is accepted by a future employee, many call it entering a relationship.  We beg to differ.  It is a mere contract at this point in time, and not a relationship by any measure.  What you have just won is ‘share of the opportunity’ for the company and the employee.  Your employee has entrusted the company with providing meaningful work in a secure environment.  There is a degree of skepticism so employee orientation is conducted to assist with the transition.  Every now and then discussion will be around fit, task and measures for success.  The focus is on adherence. 

The vocabulary of the employee also gives you an indication as to the stage in which you are.  Refer to graph, if you are in Opportunity-Contract stage, customer will simply tell say – “Tell me what to do.  Tell me how I am going to be measured.”

Stage 2: Share of Mind – Partnership

In this stage, the employee has experienced consistency and decided there is a fit.  This stage is achieved only if you have engagement where the company delivers what is promised especially in the way of meaningful work, compensation, and measurement.  You have employee’s share of mind where his/her skepticism turns to confidence.  At that time s/he starts becoming engaged in areas beyond the scope of the specific work assignments.  They may join task teams or participate in employee forums and event.  The focus at this stage is on the outcome; with less emphasis on adherence (although no less importance as confidence can be lost faster than gained). 

The stage will also witness change in customer vocabulary where “Tell me what to do” will make way for “Let’s explore ways to accomplish this” and “Tell me how I am going to be measured” will make way for “Help me continue to grow my career.”

Stage 3: Share of Heart – Relationship

This is the most desirable state of the employee relationship chain.  The employee now views the organization and its leaders as trusted advisors.  Now that the company has a share of his/her heart, both are gaining the maximum value and the employee becomes a true brand ambassador for the organization.  Employees share and embrace the organization’s vision, core values and direction for the future.  The focus on this stage will not be so much about performing but on transformative opportunities and deep sustained impact (still the previous two stages cannot be forgotten as stages are cumulative).  It is in this stage where if the employee is uncertain about certain aspect of the business, s/he will trust the company to provide the missing pieces.  In this stage everyone has the opportunity to co-create value.  At this stage the vocabulary of the employee will be what truly is reflective of a long term, sustainable relationship – “We can do this.  Let’s build a plan for the future.

Why all this effort? Why are having employees move up the relationship chain beneficial to the organization? In our view, organizations could witness systematic geometric progression in retention of top performers by moving up the relationship chain.  It means if the initial tenure in the Share of Opportunity – Contact stage was ‘X’, the second stage could result in ‘2X’ tenure and the third stage could result in ‘4X’ tenure.

Moving BACK UP the Relationship Chain

When turbulence impacts every part of the business, how can the organization continue get back to a “Share of Heart-Relationship” described by Ed Cohen and Arunav Sinha.  How can an organization motivate its people to recommit their talents, energies and spirit to rebuild?  This is a key question every organization must answer concurrent with implementing cost optimization measures.  When we discovered our revenues were not what we had been told, we immediately knew we had too many people and that one of the cost optimization measures would eventually require us to have many people leave.  We implemented strict cost optimization measures. 

It is during these turbulent times that we needed to rebuild our relationships with employees starting back at Stage 1: Share of Opportunity.  A retention strategy that quickly shifts people from fright and flight back to share of opportunity is not only important, it is tantamount to the future success of the organization.  So, how does an organization move back up the relationship chain after it is lost? It can only happen once the organization is sanitized, meaning all of the people, processes and other support systems that allowed the crisis to occur have been eliminated and gaps closed. Then attention shifts to identifying and responding to whatever it takes to keep the right people from leaving the organization.  According to IMD Professor Preston Bottger, “To begin with, smart executives show talented people that they are valued and spell out the reasons why they should stay where they are rather than move on. And, while bonuses are limited by the economic environment, effective leaders are finding other ways to motivate their people. In this emergency, smart human capital leaders are quickly discovering what matters most to those whom they cannot afford to lose – and providing it.” (Bottger 2009) What are the needs of employees in turbulent times?  Here are those we feel are critical shown in alphabetical order so as not to imply priority.  Priority is determined by the specific requirements of each unique circumstance.

  • Assistance with emotional factors
  • Consistent decision making about employee policies
  • Continuous communication from leaders
  • Job security
  • Know that leaders value their contributions
  • Meaningful work assignments
  • News before it is in the news
  • Opportunities to express oneself with leaders
  • Patience
  • Promotions (not put on hold is earned)
  • Regular updates on the health of the business
  • Reinforcement of core values
  • Restoration of compensation (particularly bonuses and variable pay)
  • Socialization activities
  • Trusting environment
  • Understand the way forward
  • Workload balancing

The answer is “all of the above” at the same time.  Employees want to know they are appreciated.  They want to know the organization is stabilizing.  They want to see daily signs of improvement.  They want a trusting and transparent environment where the news of the day is not something they read in the paper or see on television first.  They want news to be communicated rapidly. They want news to come directly from their leaders.  Access to leaders is critical.  Leaders who do not reach out to their people are doing irreparable damage and should not be tolerated. 

Recapturing Share of Heart

The best way to determine what employees want is to ask them.  In his book, A Sense of Urgency, Kotter tells us, “The idea is simple.  Send out “scouts” who, when they return, bring new information about the world and a new found determination to do something about the information.” (Kotter 2008)  Since many will be reticent to voice their opinions in a turbulent environment, online surveys are an approach to use.  One on one meetings with leaders are also highly encouraged (it shows they care). 

Employees never want to be told that they are less important than customers or shareholders! This is a common mistake for companies experiencing turbulence.  They tend to forget that the equation for success includes all stakeholders and that all are equally important.  They immediately implement cost optimization measures and customer retention measures.  Conversations center on shareholder retention, customer retention and reputation.  They expect more from people who are not displaced and they expect people to come to work each day with renewed energy.  Not possible!  If the organization demonstrates that their priorities are 1) customers and shareholders, 2) cost optimization and finally 3) employees, they will not forget this treatment.  This will not result in renewed share of heart.  Employees need to know their retention is as important to the organization as customer retention.  Of course, it may not be possible to retain everyone.  That said demonstrating priority for employees, shows the company is engaging in a share of heart relationship that will make the reality of the situation easier for people to understand and to accept.

Recapturing share of heart is much more complicated than moving from share of opportunity to share of mind.  In Love Em or Lose Em, the authors tell us “Talent-focused mangers are truth tellers and feedback providers. They do it in a way that is honest and respectful. Preserving the dignity of the other person greatly matters to these managers.” (Kaye 2008)  Foremost is Trust.  Employees need to believe their leaders. The ecosystem must not tolerate any lack of integrity, or breaks in trust.  Even one break prevents the organization from regaining share of heart. 

Karl Dumas provides six lessons for building share of heart with customers (Dumas 2009) that we believe apply directly to establishing or rebuilding share of heart with employee.

1)      Become a Student of Your Customer (in our situation, the employee)

2)      Care About What They Care About

3)      Give Something Up

4)      Make Fun A Priority

5)      Practice Generosity

6)      Serve Them With Extraordinary Humility 

When we surveyed our LinkedIn contacts from around the world, they also advised to establish and communicate a new path, a new vision, and new roles so people see value to continue rather than jumping the first chance they get.  Additionally, they advised and we agree that reinforcement of core values, solid governance, and allowing an open environment where people can voice their thoughts helps further the journey to regain share of heart and steady employee retention. 

Priscilla Nelson                                        Biography 

Priscilla Nelson is a proven senior level executive with 30 years of best in class talent management experience working with Fortune 500 companies in areas of human resources, strategic development, performance consulting, global diversity and succession planning. Priscilla identifies leadership development, executive coaching and diversity as her key areas of expertise spanning over 60 countries. She has a unique ability to recognize the additional strengths most leaders have within them and don’t know how to nurture. 

Glaxo SmithKline, AT&T, Rollins College, Emergent Biosolutions, Titan Corporation, the U.S. Government, Mahindra Satyam and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals are among her list of notable clients.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Priscilla for over 4 years and during that time she has proven herself as a multifaceted leader and coach. She is a values driven and results oriented professional who aligns to her clients goals, helping them achieve results that endure. Driven professionals that are looking for an internationally seasoned coach and consultant with a proven track record of helping clients succeed should consider working with Priscilla Nelson.”

She has received international acclaim for her work in leadership development, executive coaching and diversity.  Her strength as a consultant and leader comes from her ability to partner on a deep level to assess, and help leaders identify strengths, and how they differentiate and brand themselves.  All complemented by action learning, it is among the best in the industry.  She has presented throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, with numerous keynotes in China, India.

Prior to her consulting role she was recruited for international placement and held a $10 million budgetary responsibility for all senior level learning programs, executive coaching and mentoring service offerings.  She led a team of professionals who designed and facilitated leadership development for 5,600 senior level leaders and C-Suite executives across the world resulting in the development of a global core competencies framework, succession planning and feedback process, and impacting the reduction of attrition in a 50000+ associate organization culminating in the acquisition of numerous awards and citations.  She is the author of an internal professional coach certification program aligned to the International Coach Federation core competencies, resulting in a $15 million savings by providing internal executive coaching services throughout the organization, and “Let’s Talk”, a desktop resource manual comprised of 90 powerful questions for leaders.  She is also co-author of “Riding the Tiger” Leading through Learning in Turbulent Times, being published by ASTD Press in May, 2010.

Priscilla has a M.S. in Human Resources Economics, and a M.A. in Counselor Education.  She is a Certified Performance Technologist, a Certified Professional Coach and holds numerous certifications in assessment tools including Benchmarks 360, and MBTI; and is a member of the International Coach Federation, the Society for Human Resources Management, and the American Society for Training and Development.

“Pris is an energetic, creative and passionate leader. She is also one of the best executive coaches I have ever come across.. Pris has a talent to Coach people for their superior performance at work and in life. People who have worked closely with her know her as a highly accomplished leader who takes leaders to new levels of performance.  She has been honored internationally for her relentless pursuit to World-Class Excellence.”

Ed Cohen                                                  Biography

Ed Cohen is a talent executive with close to 30 years of high impact, global experience.  His specialty areas include leadership strategies, executive development, coaching, high impact leadership teams, succession planning, change management and the global leadership journey.

Ed has worked in more than 40 countries with organizations including Booz Allen Hamilton, Mahindra Satyam, Seer Technologies, National Australia Bank, Larson & Toubro, Farmers Insurance Group, Banco Banesto, and the World Economic Forum.  His strength as a consultant and leader comes from his high integrity approach to building trusted relationships. From China to Chicago, from Australia to Amsterdam, Ed has also been a featured speaker in more than 40 different countries around the world.

Ed demonstrated a cutting-edge knowledge of human performance; a profound commitment to excellence; the ability to perform under pressure; and a knack for tying his interventions to the organization’s bottom line. Simply put, Ed’s presence makes an organization perform better. Ed Cohen is someone who consistently causes real improvement in organizational performance. He exemplifies the highest core values and always does the right thing.

Ed Cohen is the only Chief Learning Officer to lead two companies to ASTD BEST Award #1 ranking; Booz Allen Hamilton and Satyam Computer Services (only company outside United States to achieve this). He is the author of Leadership Without Borders published John Wiley & Sons which received multiple international accolades.  He is also co-author of Riding the Tiger: Leading Through Learning in Turbulent Times, published by ASTD Press this May 2010.

Prior to his consultant role, from 2005 to 2009 Ed lived in India working as Senior Vice President for Mahindra Satyam, a global, technology professional services. Under Ed’s leadership, they became the first and only company outside the U.S. to attain the # 1 ranking by American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Before that, Ed Cohen was eight years with Booz Allen Hamilton. Under Ed’s leadership, they achieved the # 1 ranking on both Training Magazine’s Top 125 list and ASTD’s global list. Booz Allen also received more than 30 “Excellence in Practice” recognitions from ASTD (American Society for Training & Development).  He implemented learning and people services including people strategies, executive coaching programs, action learning, virtual learning, social networking, that have cumulatively resulted in more than $500 M of return on investment.

Ed participated in Harvard Business School’s Leading Professional Services Firms, earned a M.S. in education from Nova Southeastern University and a B.A. in accounting from the University of Florida.

Ed is a world-class professional, dynamic expert in corporate learning and leadership, and an inspiring leader of people and programs. During his seven-year tenure at Booz Allen Hamilton, Ed developed and set the standard for what became, under his leadership, a highly recognized learning program—ties directly to the business needs of our rapidly growing consulting firm.

How to Strategically Align Learning to the Needs of the Business

By Ed Cohen, Executive Vice President, Nelson Cohen Global Consulting

Whether your company refers to employee development as a corporate university, learning function or training team, it is imperative that services strategically align to short term and long term organization goals and objectives.

Corporate universities with global responsibility must meet the learning and development needs of all constituents throughout the world. Within a global corporate university, time differences, geographic differences, escalating travel costs, opportunity cost of time, and other barriers exist.  Instructor led learning cannot be justified as the primary means for learning.  Beyond actual real time, on the job learning, use of virtual learning combined with alternatives including degree and certification programs, executive coaching, performance consultancy, global learning circles, experiential learning, and self-study need to be primary for learning deployment. These corporate universities are business enablers and catalysts for performance and relationship enhancement[1]

Strategic alignment is critical to learning so here are 13 effective steps for doing so. Why 13 steps? An early memory I have is going to the bakery for fresh rolls with my Mother.  She asked the baker for a dozen and was handed a bag filled with fresh warm rolls.  When we arrived home, Mom asked me to unpack the rolls.  I took each from the bag, 1…2…3…4…5…tempted to taste but didn’t dare (ok I admit to having a small piece from one) …6…7…8…9…10… and I carefully placed them in the container …11…12…13.  Thirteen, I wasn’t expecting that.  I asked Mom if the baker did not know what a dozen meant.  She explained, “if the baker likes you, you always get an extra item and that is called a bakers dozen.”  So, here’s my baker’s dozen “must” list to guarantee strategic alignment of learning services—

  1. Make sure everyone knows development is more than training.  Training will accomplish no more 20% of necessary learnings.  The remainder requires work experiences with real time feedback and coaching; supportive colleagues including peers, managers and mentors; documented success factors and derailers; and, alternative learning services such as coaching, learning circles, and action learning. 
  2. Use a formal process to link learning.  All development activities should be anchored to core values and best-practice performance standards.  Performance standards should include both competencies (level of desired skill demonstration) and work life cycles (processes followed to complete series of tasks). Competencies represent the skills needed to be successful in the role, Once identified, they can be easily mapped to all learning opportunities including on the job learning.
  3. Conduct organization development and specific interventions.  Offering OD and intervention services builds strategic relationships across the enterprise while at the same time, expanding credibility and providing an excellent source for information gathering. For example, at Satyam, we have a program called “Maximizing Team Effectiveness”. For this intervention, we work with leaders to analyze customer feedback, associate delight and other business indicators. From there we develop, in partnership with the team, an effectiveness plan. The plan is developed over two days with follow-up taking place after to make sure it is implemented. This allows teams to become part of the solution rather than having our consultant go in to “fix” their problems.
  4. Define roles for senior leaders (integral to your alignment strategy).  Every opportunity taken to interact with senior leaders enhances access to information and resources.  Roles for leaders including sponsors for key programs, ambassador who always talk highly of learning services, advisors who provide access to and freely share information, as well as presenters and coaches.
  5. Obtain resonance from advisory teams.  Many organizations have an advisory team exclusive to the corporate university.  While this is excellent, it is a narrow way of approaching the business.  To align effectively, make use of existing advisory teams across the enterprise.  This includes leadership teams, task teams, and corporate governance. The School of Leadership has an advisory board called the Leadership Development Council. Chaired by our firm’s chairman, Ramalinga Raju, the provides strategic guidance and oversight.
  6. Help individuals successfully transition to your culture. Every organization, no matter where it is located, has its own distinct culture and language.  When individuals join, surround them with a tailored infrastructure, an immersion process, mentors and learning opportunities to expedite awareness and comfort.  This includes written and unwritten, spoken and unspoken, and common and uncommon sense behaviors.  Be aware of the obvious and not so obvious culture differences.  At Satyam, we have a one-year process we developed to ease the transition of new senior leaders. The Full Life Cycle Leader immersion process includes elearning, classroom learning, action learning, coaching and mentoring throughout the leader’s first year.
  7. Meet needs of culturally and geographically disbursed employees.  Instead of participants coming to a centralized site to receive learning services, have your learning professionals travel to them or offer them online.  Putting learning professionals on the road has several advantages—they learn about the unique needs of staff located outside the central facility, cost is considerably less for one to travel, and it eliminates the sense of “haves” and “have nots”.  A virtual campus, allowing anywhere, anytime access is a tremendous benefit for extremely mobile staff.  Offering programs online and via VTC also allows for great reach.  When using VTC, keep in mind that you can emanate a program from any location so they are not always carried live at the learning center.  Rather, consider offering the live version at a small site and using VTC to provide access to all others.  Again, this reduces the perceptions of “haves” and “have nots”.
  8. Build critical skills.  Long term and short term business goals may have organizations entering a new or rapidly changing market, require organization changes and reskilling or upskilling.  Others may be facing new compliance requirements or a need to increase specific skills such as diversity.  The corporate university can easily align and provide high value by assessing the gap, prioritizing needs (with assistance from advisory teams), and developing services for the most critical and visible areas.
  9. Forecast needs and identify gaps.  The delta between assessed and desired performance allows unique access to important information.  Learning professionals have the ability to close gaps, while at the same time influencing workforce planning. 
  10. Respond to trends.  Is your organization experiencing an aging population or trends in specific demographic areas?  These are perfect opportunities to align and demonstrate high value.  In order to do this, map the trend, analyze it, assess gaps, prioritize, and build learning interventions.  Other trends to look for are common performance gaps within a job family or team.  This can be determined by meeting with managers and reviewing performance assessments.
  11. Participate in emerging market strategies.  Collaborate with the business to assist in rapid learning and deployment of new products and service offerings.  Learning professionals facilitate the process by working with subject experts to glean and interpret information into manageable learning solutions.  Training those same experts in presentation and adult learning methods rapidly spreads learning across the organization.
  12. Quantify impact.  I cannot remember where it was first heard, but for long as I can remember, the saying “you are what you measure” has been universally understood.  If you measure and reward the right behavior, you get the right behavior.  The same is true when it comes to quantifying impact.  Rather than measuring how many people attended, how many courses are offered, how many hours of training are delivered, measure impact as defined by your organization’s leaders.  You might or might not need to calculate and assign monetary values to measures being used within your organization.  This ensures your leaders both understand and take seriously measured results.  By determining desired outcomes in the design phase of a learning service, measurement of outcomes is clearer and easier.  This is much better that what most do—retrofit measures after the fact.  When you calculate value, invest the time to communicate results to stakeholders.  Once a target is achieved, stretch is further to demonstrate additional contributions to the business.
  13. Help build the business.  Building a world-class corporate university can assist the brand of your organization.  Sharing best practices, hosting visits, extending services to customers and earning third party employer of choice recognition help your organization’s brand and enhances the value of the learning function.


That’s my “baker’s dozen” to guarantee strategic alignment.  If you can check off that your learning group is actively engaging each of the 13 “must” items, greater success for the corporate university and even greater contributions to your organizations is ensured.


[1] Next Generation Corporate Universities, edited by Mark Allen, Global Considerations for Corporate Universities, 2007, John Wiley and Sons.


Echoes of Innocence

Joshua Craver’s Real-Time Learning Experience

As a designer of the real-time learning process and a performance consultant based at Satyam, I participated in one engagement that epitomized this type of learning. The members of an onsite account team from Satyam were working with a large customer—a Fortune 100 company—with which they wanted to improve their relationship. Satyam’s account leaders wanted our help as performance consultants in meeting two goals: first, to enable Satyam to grow from being the customer’s core partner to being its strategic partner— meaning more opportunities for project wins; and second, to improve Satyam’s score on the customer’s satisfaction survey from 3.67 to more than 4.0 on a 5.0-point scale.

While collecting data during stage 1 of this real-time learning process, we learned that for the past two quarters, this account team had seen increasing revenue but not won any new projects and that the annual attrition rate for Satyam’s onsite team was nearing 20 percent. The team identified an increasing threat from other service providers and informed us that there would be projects worth millions up for bid in the next six months. Though the customer was continuing its healthy growth and dominance of its industry, its external perception in the marketplace was not stable. For instance, during one visit we had to make our way through a crowd of protesters upset about its perceived lack of eco-friendly practices.

Armed with extensive data from stage 1, we began to ignite change onsite, stage 2 of the real-time learning process. We started the week with a dinner for Satyam’s employees and their families. This helped us get to know the team on a personal level and build trust which would be necessary for our work together. During this week-long stage, we spoke with 18 of the customer’s managers, had development conversations with 26 of our onsite employees, and observed 16 meetings. We found that Satyam’s employee turnover was essentially due to a lack of cultural integration with the new country where they had been asked to move (mostly from India) and a lack of customer integration. We provided 12 learning and development sessions, all outside billable hours. Throughout the week, observed the Satyam team and customer interactions to ensure that behavioral change was happening, and we ended the week with an action planning session for all stakeholders. This customer employed four vendors with similar capabilities and remarked that our learning and development services differentiated us from our competition. The customer saw this engagement as enhancing its communication and working relationship with the Satyam team, which was previously as roadblock to a true partnership.

During stage 3 of the real-time learning process, sustaining change, we began with writing and socializing the final report. This final report documented all aspects of the engagement. We documented all stakeholders’ initial goals, feedback, and thoughts. In addition, we prepared our analysis of the account’s current state and opportunities for team development, which included an action plan to strengthen the relationship and business development.

From this point we had weekly coaching sessions with Satyam’s onsite team leaders, monthly follow-up meetings with the onsite task force, and conversations with key customers to monitor the team’s progress. As a result of this engagement, Satyam’s team reached its goals outlined from the start. It achieved strategic partner status and a satisfaction rating well above 4.0 during the next customer satisfaction survey, thus well positioning the team for business development.

When the Satyam debacle occurred, we coached Satyam’s key team leaders for this customer’s account on how to manage the customer relationship and their teams during the crisis. We, as performance consultants, became trusted advisors to the Satyam team–and the team achieved the same status with the customer. Today, this customer is still using Satyam’s services.


Priscilla Nelson: Riding the Tiger- Author Interview

Talent management expert and former Satyam Computer Services executive, Priscilla Nelson and co-author with Ed Cohen, of the leadership lesson filled book Riding the Tiger: Leading Through Learning in Turbulent Times, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about the book.

Priscilla Nelson describes the crisis that almost destroyed Satyam Computer Services, and the initiatives that not only saved the company from bankruptcy, but transformed the entire organization into a more effective and growing business. She shares the strategies and techniques that turned the company around and began its path to renewal and profitability.

Thanks to Priscilla Nelson for her time, and for her comprehensive and informative responses. They are greatly appreciated.

Continue Reading


Mahindra Satyam releases numbers for 2009 and 2010

Congratulations to Mahindra Satyam for being able to wade through the mess and get the numbers for 2009 and 2010 released.  This is a great step forward for a wounded company that has worked hard to rebuild itself.  We feature many of the leadership practices implemented to get Satyam through the turbulent times in Riding the Tiger: Leading Through Learning in Turbulent Times.

See Economic Times New video:

We are happy for their ability to pull through, and especially believe the way the people reacted, responded and courageously led through those darkest of times was inspriring.  However, we are concerned about the message delisting from the NYSE sends to investors and customers in the US in particular because such a large amount of their revenue comes from there.  What is Mahindra Satyam’s plan for the U.S. investors who are now let in limbo?

Read more at:

Wall Street Journal – FY 10 Satyam Not out of the Woods Yet

Economic Times –Mahindra Satyam Should be Higher in next 12-18 months

India’s fraud-hit Satyam posts loss but is on the mend

Business Week — Fraud-Hit Satyam Narrows Loss After Mahindra Purchase

Economic Times — Mahindra Satyam Board approves delisting from NYSE


Riding the Tiger launches in India

Riding the Tiger is about how people react, respond, and courageously lead during turbulent times.  This book gives you a specific, step-by-step approach to this organizational renewal spurred by leadership through learning.

You’ll receive fantastic insights and practical guidelines that can be implemented by leaders in any organization facing turmoil—and these days that includes most of us. The turmoil could be a result of significant change or lack of change; of rapid growth or rapid decline; of a merger, acquisition, or takeover; or of key leaders joining or leaving. It may be more extreme, resulting from a calamity such as a financial scandal or the theft of intellectual property, or an unnatural (terrorist attack) or natural (earthquake, monsoon) disaster affecting any part of the organization.

 * * * * *

CP Gurnani, CEO of Mahindra Satyam says, “While many continue to concentrate on what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and the sensationalism of the crisis, I am delighted that Priscilla and Ed are reaching out to the world through this medium as they present an objective view of what transpired inside the organization and how crisis engineered us even better, where we got far better prepared for the future.”

 * * * * *

According to Mukesh Aghi, CEO of Steria, India — “A smooth sea never makes a good sailor. Turbulence is essential to build character and strengthen resolve. Every organization and individual will have their moments of riding the tiger. Leading with a clear focus and with Integrity is essential to adequately manage these choppy times. Reading this book was enriching, educating, and entertaining.”

 * * * * *

INDIA PUBLISHER:  Cengage Learning

Write to Sunil Agarawal to find out where to buy the book

* * * * *


September 3rd:  St. Mary’s College is sponsoring an event at the school and that evening at La Makaan

September 6:  Steria is sponsoring a Panel and Book reading at The Connaught, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

For an invitation about launch events or more information about the book please write to


1 Comment

This just in from a reader of Riding The Tiger

I received your book on Friday and have read it twice!  I will be reading it many times more, it’s like a new bible of usefulness in the work that I do.

As to page six, paragraph two “Somehow, something good must come from this catastrophe.” – Something phenomenally important and inspiring has indeed come from an event that I almost wish to have been part of.  Many congratulations to you both, I know too many people who very quickly wish to distance themselves from disaster, however, you have courageously ensured that all the good lessons and experiences are captured here for all time and in a most constructive and humanistic fashion. Genius!

I could almost write a whole book of praise after two reads!

I do hope that the “leaders” of the financial crises buy your book and learn from it.  Some day, when I put together my own book of life experiences in helping people to deliver sustainable change, I’d be grateful for your counsel. Many things in your book clearly articulated thing that I already knew but did not consider so deeply until now.

My very best wishes and look forward to reading of your next adventures.


Diane McWade
Evolution Network Limited


Echoes of Innocence

The Voice of Tony Chapman, Leader,
School of Leadership

With more than 20 years of experience in media and television production, I had decided it was time for a change of pace. I joined the School of Leadership at Satyam in March 2008 as a leadership development consultant. I quickly became immersed in the training programs, teaching conflict management tools, tips on executive presence, and presentation skills.

At the end of 2008, my family traveled back to Australia for the Christmas break. On the evening of January 7, I was at a party at my sister-in-law’s in a beachside suburb of Melbourne. It was the usual raucous family event, with friends dropping in and wine flowing. In the midst of all this, I decided to ring the office in India. This is how I learned about the massive fraud. I felt a bizarre sense of dislocation, magnified by the distance between my family there and my colleagues in Hyderabad. I imagined what they must be going through and their reactions to this news.

On my return to work a few days later, it was clearly “all hands on the pumps.” Faculty and support staff were gearing up for crisis management and morale-sustaining initiatives that could be disseminated to the staff at zero cost. One key communication platform during this time was the webcast studio we had been testing for the past year, known as Planet Satyam. As web television assumed growing importance as a communications tool that could operate on a minimal budget, I was drawn into working in the studio. My plans to develop my skills as a leadership learning professional were put on hold. We had a number of memorable webcasts, including series such as Rise of the Phoenix and Weathering the Storm. At the end of January, we ran a five-hour-plus webathon to raise funds for a local orphanage with which we were heavily involved. We had one camera going live and another crew picking up interviews at the back of the webcast area. The enthusiasm of everyone involved carried the day, and we managed to raise a considerable sum. By the end of October, web television was being used to deploy almost 90 percent of all learning. My desire to be a leadership development professional remained sidelined, so I decided it was time for me to move on.


Echoes of Innocence: The Voice of Priscilla Nelson

I had been providing leadership development and executive coaching for leaders from Fortune 500 companies for many years before moving to Hyderabad to work for Satyam. There, my responsibilities included building a global executive coaching program for the company. We began with the most senior leaders and then cascaded coaching throughout the entire organization. From the beginning, it was a formidable venture. The cost of doing business in India was significantly lower than in most countries where Satyam had offices. This factor, and the added factor of the culture’s reticence to use external coaches, resulted in our decision to build an internal coaching capability. Building a strong, professionally trained, and competent resource pool of coaches was paramount for our strategy. Further, it was imperative that we meet the needs of our diverse culture. Though mostly of East Indian origin, our customers and onsite employees represented differing national origins, and therefore our coaches needed extensive training in cultural awareness.

When I arrived in India in 2005, I discovered that coaching was not well known there. Most saw coaching as a “remedial” approach for those who were struggling—all but a “last ditch effort,” before they were asked to leave the organization, or school, where their success or failure might well determine their destiny. With this kind of a perception, and in the predominantly Indian-centered corporate headquarters, coaching would have a long, uphill battle to be seen as a strong resource for leaders. In one conversation with one of our most senior leaders, we were told, “Yes, I can see this as a tremendous asset; I have some leaders I want to refer to you.” Our response was, “That’s wonderful, and how could coaching affect your own growth?” By allowing this leader to realize that he could reap value, he was also willing to present himself as a role model and catalyst for others. Taking all this into account, it was apparent that a massive shift in the perception of coaching was required before executive coaching services could be successfully launched.

We developed a two-pronged approach. The first prong involved one-to-one engagements with senior leaders, getting them acquainted with the infinite possibilities for building on the success of a solid career. We began by telling everyone that coaching was for successful leaders; we were not there to “fix” anyone. It started slowly, and over time it began to gather a following. The second prong entailed more comprehensive programs, including “group coaching” programs for new and emerging leaders, and coaching support for those pursuing new leader certificates and global business leadership opportunities. This further embodied the core messages of our coaching relationship: trust, partnership, and accountability. The pipeline for coaching included individual senior leaders; leaders in transition; new leaders, both promoted and hired from outside the organization; and emerging leaders.

To prepare professionals as coaches, we sought the right training. We worked with several external providers and also developed our own internal certification program aligned with the organization’s core competencies, as well as the core values and code of ethics of the International Coach Federation. Armed with our new internal program, we groomed a strong contingent of 45 professionally trained coaches who stood ready to match their skills with the needs of our leaders. By 2009, we had the largest internal professional coach program in Asia and quite possibly, the largest in the world. Coaching was the cornerstone of all our professional service offerings. Executive coaching became a critical service, noted in each and every award the organization received between 2006 and 2009. Our coaching model has been used as a baseline by other organizations throughout India as they have created their own coaching programs.


Echoes of Innocence

Rohan Shahane’s Coaching Experience

Rohan Shahane served as the lead for executive coaching at Satyam. He assisted in the deployment of coaching programs. He shared his experience: “As I looked around the organization, I found leaders and business units in some places who, even though bruised and injured, were able to march on. What was happening here? How was this possible? What did it take for them to soldier on? There were many reasons expressed. A sense of commitment and loyalty to the organization, pride in one’s work, solid camaraderie among the team, and a deep customer relationship were just a few. However, there was one thing in common that stood out strongly: These leaders were authentic, transparent, and humble. The crisis has thrown up many lessons for all of us, and the one enduring lesson that I take from this experience is what I have begun to call ‘fearless authentic leadership.’”

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