The Leadership Lab: Gautam Mukunda

Join our deep dive with Gautam Mukunda as we explore his best selling books and research on when leaders really make a difference; along with his own fascinating leadership story.

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I was speaking to Sir Robert Fulton, the CEO of the extraordinary Global Leadership Foundation which exists to make available, discreetly and in absolute confidence, the experience of former leaders to today’s national leaders. I told him about the idea behind the leadership lab, giving Scholars insights into the leadership journeys of successful leaders, who have faced discrimination and prejudice; and who have important things to say about the complexities of leading ethically. He immediately said that I needed to speak to Gautam Mukunda.

This is the result.  We talked about Gautam’s confusing resume (McKinsey, Harvard, Venture Capital, Yale), the power of curiosity, why we need to be hyper-aware of the stories that we tell ourselves, and how entrepreneurship is a powerful lever to change the world.

Gautam shared what triggers him profoundly; and what makes him get up in the morning. He told fascinating anecdotes about the leaders he most admires and the life he leads. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


01:09 | We talk a lot with our Scholars about leadership being a journey, not a destination. You often joke that your life’s ambition is to have the most confusing resume and that you are most of the way there. Why is it so wonderfully confusing?

04:22 | You've spent some time in consulting and academia, and now you are also in venture capital. What do you think is the most compelling about each of those worlds, and how do they interact?

12:10 | In those three worlds, consulting, academia and venture capital, did you ever face prejudice or discrimination?

16:30 | Your first bestseller, Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter explains how the way in which we filter candidates means that very often one leader would do much the same as another. Can you explain that some more?

21:25 | Anywhere you look, despite the filtration system, there are examples of spectacularly dishonest and immoral behaviour. Is it that the filtration system isn’t working or that unfiltered candidates behave unethically?

27:34 | What advice would you give to our Scholars? How do they hold on to their integrity and not slide into moral corruption?

33:03 | You've been exposed to all sorts of leaders around the world - do you have any positive examples? Any role models we should look at?

41:33 | We asked our first guest, François Ortalo-Magné, what question he would ask of other leaders, and he said “What makes you angry?”. How would you answer that? Our second guest Sally Mapstone, is motivated, daily, by what makes her angry, which is any form of social injustice. Every morning, she asks herself, what she is going to do today to address injustice. Her question for you is, therefore, what do you set yourself as a target when you wake up in the morning?

47:06 | Our next interview will be with the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, the brilliant Professor Linda Doyle. What would you like to ask her?

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