April 28, 2017

Women Leadership – New Age Imperatives

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Before advancing on this article, I came to an agreement with myself that  I won’t be making it fascinating, but keep it realistic and  I won’t be using complex management jargons and acronyms, instead, I will keep it simple for everyone to understand.

For my preparatory work, I Googled “Business Women in India”, Google showed a list of 50 women; however, I was surprised with THREE names – Indrani Mukerjea, Sunny Leone, and Sussanne Khan. Anyway, these women did defy many social norms and stood for what they believed in.  I further filtered my search   “Successful Business Women Leaders in India”. This time Google showed me a new list of 50 names. First TEN names were – Chanda Kochhar (MD & CEO, ICICI Bank); Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Chairman & MD, Biocon Limited); Preetha Reddy (MD, Apollo Hospitals); Shikha Sharma (MD & CEO of Axis Bank); Mallika Srinivasan (Chairwoman & CEO, TAFE Limited); Nita Ambani (Chairperson & founder of Reliance Foundation); Roshini Nadar (ED & CEO, HCL Corporation); Anita Dongre (Founder, House of Anita Dongre, Premium Fashion House); Ashu Suyash (MD & CEO CRISIL Limited); and Radhika Piramal (MD, VIP Industries)

All these personalities have few things in common. They are entrepreneurs or are carrying forward the legacy of their family business or they worked in one organization and grew in the hierarchy.

 These women overcame hurdles and faced many challenges to reach on top.    I learned about few worrisome situations of women, who embarked their career in last 25 years that highly impact their elevation to leadership roles. When I say, leadership roles, I mean “Business Leadership Roles” across industries and not those “reserved” roles for women in certain industries to increase the “Sexual Quotient (SQ)” in the name of “Diversity” and “Gender Equality”.

  1. Instability at Workplace – From past two decades, there is an upsurge among private sector employees towards frequent job hop for few extra thousand rupees or for the fancy job title. Women too are enthusiastically participating in this race.
  2. Comfort and Safety – Growth and comfort don’t go together. If they want to grow, they must move out of their comfort zone and take the risk. Those women who want to attain leadership roles but are not willing to work beyond 9 AM to 6 PM slot then leadership roles are not meant for them.
  3. Too Complaining – “I didn’t get this job because I am a woman”; “I didn’t get due promotion or increment because I am a woman”; “I get discriminately treatment because I am a woman”. Such complaints hold no matter when you step out to work. Women must not blame their husbands or in-laws for not being supportive or must not attribute their failure to complete a project for personal reasons like kid’s exams, unwell family member, etc. Make a choice. Make a priority. Don’t complain. Don’t try to be a superwoman.
  4. Non-Serious Contenders – Not all women have ‘passion of work’. Some work to earn extra pocket money while some work to kill time and boredom. Though there are many women who are visionary, risk-takers and dreamers. Unfortunately, the number of non-serious women weighs more than the number of a go-getter. Hence, all women cannot be treated in the same manner at the workplace.
  5. Avoid conflicting situations – Most of the working women generally try to avoid confronting and conflicting situations and hope that the situation would get resolved on its own. When they face such situations they either route it to their reporting manager to resolve it or they cry discrimination, inequality and being targeted. Successful women leaders address such situations boldly, they don’t by-pass.

 Above mentioned traits and behaviors permanently curtail career aspirations of women.  However, adorning below mentioned behaviors is imperative for the success of women in a new age.

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Let’s Talk Business – Enough of discussions on work-life balance and gender equality, now let’s talk business. Let’s talk about our next year revenue targets, cash-flow, product launch, market share, customer focus, productivity, and profitability. As far as business leadership is concerned, that’s what matters the most.

Communicate to influence not to impress – As a business leader, you must be able to influence your audience – your employees, customers, clients, and other stakeholders  with your confidence and command over the  subject; you must be  able to  lead them in a  direction and take accountability; and  inspire them to do more.

Create and manage a Personal Brand – In the era of Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, and other ever evolving social apps, it is important for business leaders to have a personal brand. Let the world know what you stand for, your values, thoughts, opinions, etc. Be a thought leader of your domain.

 Don’t look for creating a balance, instead, make a choice – Do what you are passionate about.  People who talk about “balance” are those who are indecisive. Everything comes with a price tag; it is alright to spend time with your family and friends at the cost of your career aspirations. It is equally good to have a successful career at the price of time for family and friends.  Set your priorities right and follow them religiously.

Believe in Yourself. Take Risk  – “Papa, should I do this?”; “Honey, should I do that?”; “XYZ, should I do this”?  Do not seek for permission but pronounce what you want to do and your zeal must compel them to support you.  I remember one of my bosses words, “Whether you want to be a housewife or a career woman, give your 100%, nothing less. Women’s ability to multitask and strike balance is a myth. Choose one and stay focussed”.

Finally, I Googled “Successful Business Women in the World” and it showed me following TEN namesMary Barra (CEO, General Motors); Indra Nooyi (Chairperson & CEO, PepsiCo); Virginia “Ginni” Rometty (Chairwoman, President and CEO of IBM); Marillyn Hewson (Chairwoman, President & CEO Lockheed Martin), Ellen Kullman (Formerly Chairperson & CEO, DuPont), Meg Whiteman (President & CEO, HP), Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook), Irene Rosenfeld (Chairwoman & CEO, Mondelēz International), Susan Diane Wojcicki (CEO, YouTube), and Phebe Novakovic (Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of General Dynamics). And none of them complain about discrimination. They believe in themselves.

Reality doesn’t sink in easily.  Some of you might find my article harsh and rude but as I said earlier, I am not trying to impress anyone, I am only being realistic.

Do share your feedback and opinion.

Composed BySanjeev Himachali

Email sanjeev.himachali@gmail.com

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About Sanjeev Himachali 12 Articles
Sanjeev is seasoned Human Resources professional with a wealth of experience spanning across Manufacturing, Information Technology and Financial Services Industries. He is an Integral part of the Global HR Leadership Team which works on HR strategy development and deployment plan for all organizational level HR programs. Sanjeev has a well-rounded exposure to Business Operations and Delivery along with focused Human Resources assignments to understand people and people strategy. It Enables being a true Business Partner in deciding People Processes and making informed decisions by leveraging market intelligence. He is a strategic planner with experience in Organization Restructuring, Change Management, Organization Development and Talent Management. Sanjeev is a qualified Career and Performance Coach. Specialties: Change Management, Organization Development, Performance Coaching, Career Coaching, HR Operations, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Green-field Legal CGreenfield Operations, Start-up, Learning, and Development, and Compensation and Benefits.
  • Chandrasekhar Poduri

    Well written….. and well Googled! I agree with you that women do seek opinions from people important to their lives…… as do men!! Perhaps they are not seeking permission….. Perhaps both men and women are collaborative in their lives together…. After all if they are travelling together… they do make mutual adjustments. Having said that it is also true that mostly it was women who were making most of the adjustment….. But times are changing and women are making the tough choices….. the new age heterosexual male is not only falling in line…. but also supportive! The reasons are not far to seek….. it is infinitely more interesting and satisfying to live with individuals who are self-actualised. This last realisation is corroborated with my personal experience!

  • Jyoti Chopra

    Bravo 👏 daring yet sincere thoughts penned down.