Could you describe your typical day?
It begins with planning. As a morning person, I tend to complete more challenging work in the morning. My work comprises coaching sessions, client management, admin etc. I avoid doing more than two coaching sessions a day to ensure quality.
What are the key skills you need for your work?
Listening and being present in the moment. These are core skills for both my facilitation and coaching work. Given this, I try and meditate for an hour each day, and also ensure that I am mentally centred before I begin a coaching conversation or facilitation exercise.
What part of your job do you find the most challenging?
Working with leaders across India in domains I may not be thoroughly familiar with, e.g. education or non-profits. I need to keep my assumptions at bay, ensure that I learn about the area, their issues, the ‘levers’ in their environment, and also speak their language. This is challenging, but also a lot of fun, and inevitably, a source of significant growth!
What aspects of your work do you find most enjoyable?
Probably the most enjoyable part of my work is when a coachee and I are in flow during a coaching session. When we are at a deeper level, there is a strong connection that emits a positive vibe in the room. Exploring together and being curious reveals new ideas and information, which can be magical!
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I had a leader, around 20 years ago, who had complete trust in his people. Even as a junior member of his team, he treated me with the same respect and dignity as the most senior person – this meant a lot to me. With this, he gave me complete freedom and made me feel valued. His approach and outlook have had a tremendous impact in terms of how I lead and how I coach others to lead.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Firstly, understand what the role is and what value you can add. Too often, people move into leadership but continue with their old role. In the first few weeks, watch, listen, and be humble enough to ask. Once you know what you want to do, draw a purpose along with your team, and then set a vision for them – both in terms of what and how. Finally, be the embodiment of your purpose and values – people are watching closely to everything you say and do!
What developments on the horizon do you see as shaping the future of your industry/role?
I see the increasing ambiguity driven by change, and the impact this has on leaders as a key theme in my industry going forward. We need to help leaders believe in themselves more, find ways to be resilient, and be able to continue inspiring people in ways that are meaningful to them.
I see more and more of our work being done virtually. This is not necessarily a good thing given that technology is a long way off replicating person to person contact. However, it’s a fact that we are going to have to adapt to.
What inspires you?
Authenticity and the courage to be true to one’s self. I believe the world needs more of this, especially in an age where social media presence seems to drive everything else.
What do you think is the best way to innovate?
To listen, to continually question assumptions, and to have the courage and humility to accept that there can be a better way. Beyond this, there are systems and processes that drive innovation, but without this mindset, none of those will deliver.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Of course, reading and self-skilling are essential in my job to remain relevant and continue to add value to my clients. Beyond this, I believe in the power of learning. I am always pushing myself out of my comfort zone – in both my work and personally. I do occasionally fail, but failure or success is not the point, learning is. A good dose of honest reflection of these experiences keeps me growing as a human being, and a prayer of gratitude every night keeps me humble and grounded.
What is one of the most interesting experiences you have encountered in your career?
There isn’t any experience I can single out. However, if I look back, probably one thing that is worth mentioning is the value of going with the flow. I am in my second career and thoroughly enjoying it. Getting into this career was not a conscious decision – it was the outcome of a series of decisions that got me here, and all of them were taken in the moment. While I believe in planning, I have increasingly realised the tremendous power in just letting things take their course – inevitably you come out better!
How do you like working with a larger APAC group like LLM?
I think it’s an excellent opportunity to learn, to collaborate, and of course to grow business.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work/ how do you switch off?
I read a lot and listen to music. My reading is typically around political history or a good thriller if I am on holiday. My music tastes are varied from Indian Classical to everything the western world has to offer. However, if I was on a desert island, and I was allowed to take only one album, it would be Dire Strait’s ‘Brothers in Arms’.