How INSEAD Helped Me Deal With the Changing World

Naveen Khajanchi

When I wrote Evolutionary Leadership: A Holistic Perspective, I was introduced to Prof Manfred De Kets Dries at INSEAD. He encouraged me to consider the EMC (formerly EMCCC) programme that INSEAD was running. But for me to commit to a diploma was too much at the time. He did not say much but connected me to his colleague Prof Roger Lehman who was moving to Singapore.

We kept in touch and after a year or so, Roger invited me for a Q&A about the programme. It was a big decision as it involved money, time and the commitment of going back to school. In the end, I decided to pursue the programme and have no regrets about it. So I jumped into it and was part of the first batch of participants from the Singapore campus for this degree.

The programme helped me see things with a progressive lens for both myself and for others.

I got exposed to global cultures, diversity and theories of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. A safe space was created, and suddenly I jumped into the international arena of getting to know myself better.

Data entry points started replacing intuition and gut in a balanced manner.

My deep understanding on family-owned business, storytelling and positive psychology got uncovered. Old labels had to be done away with and new labels emerged.   

Professionally and personally I became less reactive and more responsive and pro-active in developing and changing myself. I was able to present to my clients a much more wholesome analysis of any situation, with a holistic and grounded view. I found ease with thought leaders and operating managers.

I used to operate from a deep know-it-all approach with a very strong bend towards intuition. This, combined with my on-the-ground experience, was a great thing. I was a trusted advisor but I felt the need to fill in the vacuum of knowledge, concept, research, systems and process.

The EMC as a programme puts you in a safe space wherein the design ensures maximum participation and group learning.

Receiving feedback from different people with 15 different nationalities and so many different industries is very valuable. It helps you to understand some of your own blind spots and can also be useful to do course corrections in a wholesome manner.

Manfred Kets de Fries, Roger Lehman, Erik Van De Loo, Jean Francois Manzoni (now with IMD), Elizabeth Florent, Quy Huy, Philip Anderson are professors whom I gained a lot from. It helped me become curiously curious, wherein I could hold and listen to two completely different points of view and then take a balanced decision.

The fact that our biases can be a cloud to our judgements, or that they can be used positively, is something which is a major takeaway for me. I learned to write and reflect more deeply.

My blogs being re-published on INSEAD knowledge was as a proud moment.

I learned about stewardship in a different form and applied it in my own life. As a daily task for myself, I now try to help or do a good act daily with an unknown person. Gratitude and empathy are very important, yet we get lost in the 'good to great'. The phrase 'do no harm' became more seamless. 

The EMC's Elizabeth Florent (Liz), Senior Lecturer and Thesis Director, encouraged me very much to write and her idea of creating a "jewel box" in my laptop for storing my thoughts was a wonderful takeaway.

Today I am being known as a family business thought leader with acknowledgement globally. INSEAD played a very important role in my blossoming in this space. My reading and writing time has gone up. I have hopefully become a better listener and a less judgemental person.