This is not the time to take decisions alone: Anuranjita Kumar on inclusive leadership
“When nothing is certain, anything is possible,” Mandy Hale, a writer once said. Echoing this sentiment, Anuranjita Kumar, Operating Partner, IndusCap Ventures spoke about the current business context under COVID 19, the need for diversity and inclusion as part of the business agenda and lessons from previous crisis, while speaking at Skillsoft’s Perspectives 2020 Online Conference.
“At a time when there’s a lot of anxiety, and no clarity, the COVID19 crisis has also given us an opportunity,” she said. “It has invited us to make the right choices. And it’s an opportunity to work towards the good of humanity”.
The trap of quick decisions
Companies around the world over are making quick decisions, because the emerging situation demands it. And there’s a need for large scale transformation even among big businesses. In this context, “It is important to look at who you’re taking advice from,” Anuranjita said.
It is necessary to be watchful. Leaders need to ensure that they are not making these quick decisions alone. “That’s because we all have inherent biases that we need to guard against,” she noted.
Reflecting on the 2008 financial crisis, Anuranjita, who was then working at a major Bank noted that although the current crisis cannot be compared, there were similar business pressures. “All I did was keep my eyes on the ball – in terms of what I was required to do. And I made sure I was effective,” she noted.
When you are going through the dark times, keep moving. There’s hope and it guides you towards the light at the end of the tunnel, she said.
Connect and engage
After two years of restructuring post the financial crisis, she said what really mattered was how the experience enriched everyone. “From a personal perspective, it enriched me tremendously and got the best out of me,” she said. “It taught me to connect and engage”.
“In one sense, inclusion at work is about making your employees feel like they’re part of what you are managing. Don't turn them away or fall into your comfort zone. It is about respect. And everybody today is fighting a battle which we may not see. So start with the position that everybody is fighting a battle and that leads to empathy”.
Beyond empathy, there’s a need to give people a sense of belonging. Each employee brings their uniqueness to work and that has to be acknowledged and included, so it also inspires them to do the right thing. Lastly, inclusive leadership is also about having the conviction that comes with a well thought out strategy.
New directions for the world of work
While there is continued uncertainty and distress creeping up, the world of work has had to pivot to new directions. Today, the whole debate about enabling women to work from home is laid to rest, there’s also the recognition that men need to balance work-life. All of this has also had an impact on people with special needs. There’s also greater awareness and respect for jobs like house-keeping, nursing and an increased recognition of the need for a community.
In summary, there’s a need to balance workforce, explore ways to be connect, reimagine and recreate. While technology is no cure to human connection, it is helping us usher into a new world in a stronger manner.