ADAPTABLE LEADERSHIP

Yuval Shaked, SVP & Managing Director iTero, joined Align Technology in June 2017 and shares his personal story of adapting to a new leadership role in a new company.  

Why did you choose to work for Align? 

There are a several reasons. The first being the company’s growth potential. Throughout my career in leadership, this is the first time in which I feel we are still just scratching the surface in terms of our market penetration and customer adoption of our products. 

The second is the culture. When I met the team for the first time, it felt open, enabling and inspiring. After being here for some time, it has further reinforced my assessment.   

The third is the size of the company. In larger companies, there is often too much complexity and too many layers. With smaller companies, you don’t always have the resources to do things. At Align, we are right at a point where we have the resources to execute better and more broadly.   

How would you describe your leadership style?  

My leadership style is to adapt to the situation. In areas where I feel like we have the right capabilities in place, I’ll be an enabler and a coach, helping the team process situations and remove roadblocks. In areas where we don’t yet have the right capabilities, I would focus more on the details, acting more as the driver while helping to build the needed capabilities.  

In terms of inspiring a team, I like to encourage people to think big. I ask my team: ‘What would it look like if there were no limitations? If we have a vision, and we take out the limitations, it gets much easier to see the bigger picture. Thinking and dreaming big is part of the culture at Align. 

Being new to the business gives you a fresh perspective. Can you share some of the challenges you face?  

Trying to learn a new culture, processes, team dynamics and people is always a challenge when joining a new business. Specifically, the iTero business has grown significantly in the last few years, which is amazing. At the same time, the challenge is scaling. How do we keep the good things in our DNA that brought us here? But at the same time, how do we make the changes that are necessary to get to the next level?    

Can you share lessons learned from leadership approaches you used in the past?  

I think it is very important to tailor the solution to the situation. There is such a high risk if you try to copy and paste a previous approach which was made for a different organization with a different culture and environment.  

I also want to make sure that we have the right capabilities and the right culture. My leadership approach when coming into a business is setting the strategy and clarifying priorities and then building the right capabilities and team around it.     

Could you share any tips or cautions for other new leaders or experienced leaders who are new to an organization? 

It is important to watch and listen in the beginning. Try to absorb and learn before you draw conclusions. Specifically, at Align, know that everyone is willing to support you in getting to know the business. People want to help and make you successful, so I would recommend to take advantage of this and enjoy the ride.

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