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Leadership / Strategy / Sustainability, Purpose & Climate Solutions / Business Model Innovation / Change Management / Human Resource Management & Talent Development / Digital Transformation, Information Technology & Data Analytics / AI, Robotics & Automation / Executive Education / TED Speakers / Must-Read Books

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    ‘The great rethink’: How the pandemic has forced new normals in the workplace
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    How Great Leaders Energize Their Organizations | Ranjay Gulati | TEDxBabsonCollege
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    Leading in Adversity
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    Searching For Purpose, Episode One: Why Purpose? | A BlackRock Production
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    Searching For Purpose, Episode Two: Navigating Trade-Offs | A BlackRock Production
  • Searching For Purpose, Episode Three: Building Trust | A BlackRock Production
    Searching For Purpose, Episode Three: Building Trust | A BlackRock Production
  • Deep Purpose: The Heart and Soul of High-Performance Companies by Ranjay Gulati
    Deep Purpose: The Heart and Soul of High-Performance Companies by Ranjay Gulati

Learn More About Ranjay Gulati

Today, businesses are faced with the prospect of transforming or becoming irrelevant in a digital-first, hypercompetitive marketplace. With such an intimidating prospect to address, how can managers step up to forge a path of resilience, purpose and strong leadership that will empower their organization, and the people within, to live up to their fullest potential?

Through decades of in-depth research, Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D. – management expert, award-winning author and top-rated Harvard Business School (HBS) professor – has identified a number of key strategies to build enduring success. Having singled out factors that can both unlock and derail growth opportunities, he provides expert insight on how to set a tone of preparation, purpose, and courage while effectively leveraging organizational enablers such as culture and technological levers like artificial intelligence (AI).

Former chair of the HBS Advanced Management Program, the school’s flagship senior leader executive program, Gulati closely studies how organizations – both old and young and spanning a variety of industries and geographies – create maximum impact in good times and bad. His multidisciplinary frameworks for unlocking the hidden capabilities within individuals and organizations help employees feel more motivated, bring customers closer to brands, and reshape interactions from transactional to relational.

The digital age – particularly artificial intelligence – has changed how competitive performance is achieved. New technologies are having a wide-ranging influence on the business process as a whole, from customer and market engagement to supply chains, R&D and manufacturing. Gulati’s practical frameworks help leaders build multi-faceted companies in today’s digital-first business world.

“There’s a technology piece to it, there’s an organizational piece to it and there’s a change management piece to it,” explains Gulati, who holds a BS in computer science in addition to his Ph.D. in organizational behavior. “It’s vital for leaders to understand how AI will impact the buying and selling sides of a business and has the potential to fundamentally transform the value chain.”

Through detailed research and real-world examples of companies that have completely transformed using tools like AI, he provides leaders with a blueprint for creating new opportunities with the latest technology. In this time of rapid technological and economic changes, it’s also vital for healthy organizations to stay healthy and for struggling businesses to embark on turnaround programs.

“Leaders must understand how to craft and implement great strategies,” explains Gulati, whose Turnarounds and Transformations MBA course is being adapted into a book that will feature nearly 30 in-depth case studies on organizations that have undergone such initiatives, including Lyft, Best Buy, the U.S. Marine Corps and more. “By creating a strategically unique place in the market, leaders can boost successful businesses and pull fraught businesses back from potential failure.”

One transformative strategy that Gulati’s recent research has focused on is the concept of purpose. This simple and profound idea remains misunderstood and underutilized by most business leaders. Sparked by a curiosity to understand how a few small and large companies have leveraged purpose in fundamental ways to drive financial results, he has identified the specific levers deep purpose companies utilize to achieve superior financial and social performance. His intensive fieldwork has found that most companies treat purpose as a superficial public relations exercise, while only a few authentically embrace it.

“Deep purpose leaders go beyond just a statement to put their purpose to work by connecting it to all they do, from their customers and employees to communities at large,” explains Gulati, author of “Deep Purpose: The Heart and Soul of High-Performance Companies” (Harper Business, 2022), one of Thinkers50’s Top 10 Best New Management Books for 2022. “When organizational purpose is real, you have inspired employees, committed customers, connected partners and a focused and aligned organization – all of which allows business performance to skyrocket.”

When discussing effective organizational leadership, many naturally think of traditional business organizations, like Microsoft. However, Gulati has also zeroed in on some of the most successful leaders outside of the business realm – sports coaches.

Through a fascinating series of videos, he reveals insights from some of the sports world’s top coaches such as NBA legend Phil Jackson, iconic MLB manager Bobby Cox, innovative football coach Pete Carroll and more. Gulati identifies “the 5 T’s of coaching” – talent, training, teamwork, tenacity and transformation – to provide leadership lessons that are as immediately applicable in the business world as they are in the sports world.

To take such bold leadership action, he points to what he says is the #1 character trait needed to succeed in business – courage.

By developing and sustaining courage within themselves and others, explains Gulati, leaders can project greater confidence, further motivating their teams. In small group workshops and one-on-one engagements, he helps leaders and high potentials create roadmaps for developing and sustaining courageous management skills and shows how to create similar leadership pipelines within an organization.  

To help organizations embark on a productive path leading to meaningful change, Ranjay Gulati employs a true gift for storytelling to provide leaders with practical strategies for reinventing and redefining their organization’s competitive stance, leading with bold courage, and weaving authentic deep purpose into the core of their business.

# # #

Ranjay Gulati is the Paul R. Lawrence MBA Class of 1942 Professor. His work bridges strategy (establishing clear strategic pillars for growth), organizational design (reimagining purposeful and collaborative organizational systems) and leadership (fostering inspired, courageous and caring execution).

Professor Gulati was ranked as one of the top ten most cited scholars in economics and business for over a decade by ISI-Incite. The Economist, the Financial Times and the Economist Intelligence Unit have listed him among the top handful of business school scholars whose work is most relevant to management practice. His research has been published in leading academic journals of business, the Harvard Business Review and a range of other outlets. He is the author of several books, with his latest, “Deep Purpose” (Harper Business, February 2022), named to the list of Thinkers50 Top 10 Best New Management Books for 2022. He has also been a frequent guest on CNBC and other prominent media outlets.

Professor Gulati has served on the advisory boards of several entrepreneurial ventures and has appeared as an expert witness in business litigations. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, a master’s degree in management from M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management and two Bachelor’s Degrees, in Computer Science and Economics, from Washington State University and St. Stephens College, New Delhi, respectively. 

Ranjay Gulati is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Ranjay Gulati was last modified: June 3rd, 2024 by Justin Louis

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Leveraging AI: How to Create New Opportunities With the Latest Technology

The digital age has truly transformed how organizations operate; especially as artificial intelligence becomes more consequential by the day. What do leaders need to understand to build effective companies in today’s digital-first business world? In this insightful presentation, Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., examines the myriad ways digital systems like AI are influencing the business process as a whole. From how engagement with customers and markets is changing to the implications for supply chains, R&D and manufacturing, Gulati draws on his years of research on corporate strategy and leadership as well as his academic training as a computer scientist to provide real world examples of companies that have completely transformed using tools like AI. Audiences will leave with a blueprint for creating new opportunities with the latest technology, backed by practical change management frameworks.

Build Exceptional Teams Through The 5 T’s of Coaching

Much research has been conducted on successful organizational leadership. But does that research leave out some of the world’s most successful leaders? According to Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., when it comes to empowering teams to perform at their best, sports coaches are among the most focused leaders of all. In this eye-opening presentation, he reveals insights from some of the sports world’s most successful coaches such as NBA legend Phil Jackson, iconic MLB manager Bobby Cox, innovative football coach Pete Carroll and more. Gulati outlines “the 5 T’s of coaching” – talent, training, teamwork, tenacity and transformation – to provide lessons that are as immediately applicable in the business world as they are in the sports world. Audiences will leave with proven strategies for getting the best out of their teams whether they’re on the field or in the boardroom.

How to Bolster Successful Businesses and Rescue Struggling Ones

In a time of rapid technological and economic changes, how can healthy organizations stay healthy and how can struggling organizations turn around? Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., one of the world’s top experts on organizational strategy and change management, has created accessible frameworks for enacting practical transformation and turnaround initiatives. In this eye-opening session, he presents a preview of his upcoming book featuring real-world examples of businesses who have undergone such initiatives, including Lyft, Best Buy, the U.S. Marine Corps and more. Audiences will discover new internal processes for creating a strategically unique place in the market that can boost successful businesses and pull fraught businesses back from potential failure.

Deep Purpose: Serving Society While Achieving Economic Success

According to award-winning author and Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., the pursuit of purpose can translate into superior financial and social performance, but that pursuit must go beyond a well-intentioned purpose statement to net real results. Through in-depth fieldwork assessing companies that truly embrace purpose as an organizing principle, he has identified four specific levers that allow leaders of deep purpose companies to achieve superior results. Drawing from his 2022 book “Deep Purpose,” Gulati uses colorful storytelling, inspiring case studies and relatable research analysis to break down why and how to form a corporate purpose that translates into growth. In interactive and practical presentations, Gulati showcases how the vast majority of businesses today can better employ purpose to serve society while also achieving economic success.

Cultivate Courage to Take Bold Leadership Action

Today, business leaders face increasingly uncertain markets with unprecedented adversity and setbacks that may seem insurmountable at times. How can managers develop and sustain courage within themselves and others while simultaneously projecting confidence to motivate their teams? According to Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., overcoming such circumstances requires the ability to balance determination to succeed with the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. In this interactive presentation, he draws on a range of examples from past and present to provide a detailed, personal roadmap for developing and sustaining courageous management skills and a model for how to create similar leadership pipelines within an organization.

Unlocking Growth Potential with a Customer-Centric Approach

In turbulent markets, management expert and top-rated Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., has found that customer-centric organizations with an “outside-in” perspective are the most resilient. His research-backed recommendations reveal how companies can unlock growth potential, regardless of market conditions, by immersing themselves in the lives of their customers. “Most companies with an inside-out perspective become attached to what they produce and sell to their own organizations. In contrast, the outside-in perspective starts with the marketplace and delves deeply into the problems and questions customers are facing in their lives,” Gulati describes. “The goal is to bring value to customers in ways that are beneficial for them while also creating additional value for the company itself.” The author of “Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business,” Gulati presents a practical and authoritative guide to how companies can close the gap between awareness and action. He then draws a map for organizations to identify and break down internal barriers that impede results, build bridges across divisions and create collaborator networks within teams. By drawing out the customer-centric company’s journey, Gulati helps organizations jumpstart a cycle of profits, growth and competitive advantage.

Leading a Resilient Organization in Good Times and Bad

In 2010, renowned researcher and Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., looked at past recessions to find that 9% of the 4,700 companies studied didn’t simply recover in the three years after a slowdown — they flourished, outperforming competitors by at least 10% in sales and profit growth. What set these resilient companies apart, says Gulati, is their multipronged strategy that reduces costs and prevents derailment today while investing in a better tomorrow. As described in Gulati’s 2010 article in the Harvard Business Review “Roaring out of Recessions,” only a small fraction of firms turn adversity into opportunity. He expands on this in his book “Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business,” where he describes why a leader in a turnaround or transformation environment must be a strategist, architect, decision maker and change agent who plays to win, as opposed to playing not to lose. In this highly interactive presentation, Gulati invites participants to analyze potential opportunities in turnaround situations and decide if it’s reasonable to create value. By repositioning disruption as a positive, Gulati demonstrates how to revitalize an organization, turning it into one that doesn’t just survive, but thrives. Loaded with practical, “how-to” examples drawn from decades of fieldwork, Gulati offers strategies that can help companies survive a recession, get ahead during a slow-growth recovery and be ready to win when good times return.

Agile Leadership that Transcends Derailers and Overcomes Inertia

Spurred by uncertainty about the future, many companies are rushing to become an agile organization to remain competitive. Despite the increasing need for agility, organizations may resist the change, and agile-curious leaders may not know or have have the skills to bring this strategy to life. Management expert and award-winning author Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., has spent decades bridging strategy, organizational design and leadership to form a comprehensive model for developing agile leadership, especially during tremendous market uncertainty. Interactive and accessible to any audience, Gulati first provides leaders with a detailed assessment of the inertial forces that perpetuate stagnation and failure, making it hard for established organizations to be agile. Building on these derailers, he introduces leaders to specific actions they can take to anticipate and ultimately transcend them. Finally, he concludes with a personal leadership roadmap for those seeking to develop agile and self-management skills in themselves, providing a path to embracing agility with a winning mindset.

Unleashing Human Potential and Unlocking Superior Performance

Some of the best sports coaches usually find ways to elevate individual and team performance beyond what the players themselves thought was possible. Great leaders do the same. Top-rated Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati, Ph.D., is an expert in understanding what different types of leaders across industries do to unleash human potential and unlock superior performance. Engaging, energetic and relatable, Gulati draws from case studies on leaders ranging from Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, to Satya Nadella of Microsoft, to illustrate how organizations can draw out a higher level of achievement and consistency from their employees. In interactive engagements, he demonstrates to leaders how to build trusting relationships and move from imaginary empowerment to real empowerment, deftly displaying how to transform a transactional mindset into a relational one. By breaking down each of the powerful levers that leaders have at their disposal, Gulati delivers an effective analysis of how individuals and teams discover new levels of performance.

HBR Harvard Business Review 2022

To See the Way Forward, Look Back

November-December 2022

HBR Harvard Business Review 2022

The Soul of a Start-up

July-August 2019

Harvard Business Publishing Education 2022

DBS: Purpose-Driven Transformation

(Harvard Business Publishing Education, September 2022)

Management by Ranjay Gulati book cover with a blue ribbon

Management

(Cengage Learning, 2013)

Most leaders are generalists in connecting their strategy with a way to implement it, and the advice they receive tends to be compartmentalized. Ranjay Gulati, the foremost expert on unlocking growth potential for high-performance organizations, is uniquely positioned to guide leaders on strategy formulation and implementation. He also explores more fundamental questions related to a company’s purpose, values, and culture, revealing how to leverage the benefits of a purpose-first organization. Gulati specializes in offering leaders powerful ways of marrying long-term value and short-term performance. A top-rated Harvard Business School professor, as well as the former chair of the Advanced Management Program, Harvard’s flagship senior leader executive program, he bridges strategy, organizational design and leadership to form his award-winning approach.

His highly interactive, custom-designed courses, drawn from extensive field research at organizations like LEGO, Gotham Greens, Warby Parker, Microsoft and the Seattle Seahawks, demonstrate how leaders can change how they conceive, relate to and execute strategy in their organization. Accessible and relatable, Gulati’s engagements support all levels of leadership experience, from high-potential leaders rising to the executive level to experienced long-timers looking to reinvigorate their organization. A talented instructional course designer, his arrangements help leaders learn new tools and approaches on orienting a business around a meaningful purpose, set strategies that can help the chosen purpose come to life and create an environment that can unleash the potential of your organization.

Professor Gulati advises and speaks to corporations large and small around the globe. He also frequently leads small-group workshops focused on helping leadership teams of high-growth companies enhance the growth trajectory of their businesses. Some of his representative speaking and consulting clients include Abbott Laboratories, Adidas, Aetna, Allergan, Bank of America, Bank of China, Baxter, Berkshire Partners, Blackrock, Boston Scientific, Bristol Myers Squibb, Brown Brothers Harriman, Caterpillar, Credit Suisse, Expedia, Ford, GE, General Mills, Google, Henkel, Hitachi, Honda, Hospira, IBM, Iron Mountain, Kellogg Company, Keybank, KPMG, LaFarge, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Metlife, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Novartis, Ochsner, P & G, Qualcomm, Sanofi, SAP, Target, Temasek, Unilever and Vertex.

Learn to Cultivate Courage Within Your Teams

In Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati’s research, he has found that courage is not just an individual psychological trait, but one that can be actively cultivated in oneself and others. This is crucially important because managers need employees to not just call their attention to things that are amiss (as in the case of whistleblowers), but because customers and clients have increasingly high expectations that must be met. Instilling courage means top managers must not only demonstrate this quality themselves, but also foster it among others. As market turbulence continues unabated, courage can be the new currency for organizational success.

Giving people the mere permission to make decisions isn’t enough, because most people still need to feel a sense of direction. This means leaders must cultivate in their teams the courage to make the right decisions on their own – and not just on a day-to-day basis, because leaders will never have the specific information at any given moment that their teams have. Building in a capacity for risk-taking and the tolerance for failures allows the company as a whole to learn and try again.

In this interactive workshop, Gulati draws on historical and contemporary cases to explore how learning to act with courage entails developing a purposeful and powerful self-narrative. With research showing that leaders can trigger courage when they help others to reframe their self-narratives in specific ways, exercises will include proposing thoughtful re-framings such as:

  • “Am I playing a heroic part in a virtuous quest?”
  • “Do I feel that I have my teammate’s back, and that they have mine?”
  • “If I’m facing a daunting task, does my manager support rather than punish me?”
  • “Am I achieving mastery in my job?”
  • “Am I trusted to act under my own power?”

By empowering teams answer these questions in the affirmative for themselves, participants learn to encourage their team members to become courageous leaders in their own right. Workshop attendees will learn how each of us can be a catalyst for courageous action not only within ourselves but also in those around us.

“Pursuing a purpose as a company means arriving at a clear understanding of what you were put on this planet to do. It helps you steer in the right direction, navigate tradeoffs, and, when connected to a social or personal purpose, it can inspire remarkable performance. ‘Deep Purpose’ peels back the layers to unveil what it truly takes to cultivate a purpose-driven culture, one that enables both the company and its employees to experience its power and benefit from the growth it can generate.”

Corie Barry, CEO, Best Buy

“Many leaders give lip service to purpose, but few know how to create a compelling one. Ranjay Gulati is a preeminent scholar of organizational strategy, and in this book he shows what it takes to walk the talk on purpose. It’s an insightful, practical, and timely read on building a mission that serves employees, customers, and communities along with shareholders.”

Adam Grant, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of “Think Again”; Host of the TED podcast WorkLife

“In this provocative and richly researched book, Ranjay Gulati argues that the pursuit of profits without purpose is no longer a sustainable business model. As he shows, the road to high performance, for both individuals and for companies, depends on deepening our connection to enduring and essential human values. If you want to be inspired to build more sustainable organizations, ‘Deep Purpose’ should be your next read.”

Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

“’Deep Purpose’ points to the conversations we must have right now about how to redefine the role of business in society, restore trust, and enhance our license to operate. As Gulati rightly argues, the winning formula is moral leadership and a multistakeholder model with purpose at its core. It entails both leadership and systems transformation. Highly recommended.”

Paul Polman, Former CEO, Unilever

“Leaders often invoke the rhetoric of corporate purpose to elevate their or their company’s image. But for the people who work in these companies, the search for purpose is a real and defining part of their professional life. Gulati’s book illustrates how the best leaders help employees discover a tangible link between the organization’s stated purpose and what they do on the job. When people “come alive” with a sense of purpose in their work, their motivation, energy, and creativity blossoms.”

Ken Frazier, Former CEO, Merck

“Many leaders today strive to align purpose with financial success, but only a few succeed. Gulati analyzes the tough challenges that leaders everywhere must address if they are to save the planet while also delivering strong profits. He provides a compelling account of what it means to be purpose-driven–a crucial objective for us as well as other organizations in the social innovation space.”

Toshiaki Higashihara, CEO, Hitachi

“Purpose isn’t a “nice-to-have” in the business world anymore. It’s a “must-have.” Purpose-driven organizations will lead the future, and Ranjay Gulati’s ‘Deep Purpose’ is essential reading for anyone who wants to be at the head of the pack. This comprehensive guide breaks down why cultivating purpose isn’t just the right thing for businesses to do–it’s the smart thing too.”

Carmine Di Sibio, Global Chairman and CEO, EY

“Brilliant and thought-provoking as ever, Ranjay Gulati applies scholarly rigor to the important topic of purpose. This book is a must-read for all leaders who wish to embark on or continue a journey toward a vibrant, high-performance business.”

Kasper Rorsted, CEO, Adidas

"Where Gulati's book shines is in its emphasis on putting people and the health of the planet first. Doing so isn’t naïve, he says, but rather brace and necessary in today’s rapidly changing world."

SUCCESS Magazine

“In this short guide, Harvard Business School’s Ranjay Gulati offers plenty of useful advice about how leaders can set a principled course for their businesses.”

Financial Times

“Deep Purpose will not be the last book to claim to show leaders the way, but it stands out as a thoughtful account of the dilemmas, trade-offs and pitfalls of moving beyond the pure-profit imperative, and how to overcome them.”

Financial Times