Article: Teachers' wisdom for life: 6 valuable lessons for successful HR leadership


Teachers' wisdom for life: 6 valuable lessons for successful HR leadership

Celebrating World Teachers' Day 2023 with HR leaders to gain insights on the valuable lessons, strategies, and impact that spearheaded their success.
Teachers' wisdom for life: 6 valuable lessons for successful HR leadership

Challenges serve as life's most significant lessons. To retain these lessons without necessarily experiencing the associated difficulties or falling into a cycle of repeated mistakes, we turn to knowledge, a wellspring uniquely provided by teachers. On October 5, 1994, the world decided to celebrate International Teachers' Day, to honour the profound impact of these knowledge torchbearers as well as, to acknowledge the enduring influence they exert on our lives, persisting long after the echoes of the classroom have faded. 

To celebrate the occasion, People Matters turned to HR community stalwarts, who reached the top of the leadership ladder with valuable lessons and insights from their beloved teachers. Take note of these valuable HR leadership lessons as you read, because no Artificial Intelligence can provide it.

Learning HR expertise on the lines of Jedi principles

Teachers, the Jedi Masters of our career galaxies, wielding pens with more finesse than lightsabers ever could! They're the trusty GPS in our educational maze, saving us from the dark abyss of cluelessness, says Ramakrishna Vyamajala, CHRO, HomeFirst Finance. Adding, “My maiden voyage into the realm of work was guided by a guru who was nothing short of a Jedi sage. His HR expertise was a guiding star that illuminated my role in a whole new, celestial light. The nuggets of wisdom he dropped during that time have been my trusty sidekicks for decision-making and passing on to my own team members.

He distilled the enigmatic world of HR into three elegant Jedi principles: Balance, Empathy, and Knowledge. 

  1. Balance wasn't just about teetering between employer and employee expectations; it was about orchestrating the cosmic dance of short-term actions and long-term consequences. Policies we set today aren't just pages in a handbook; they're the sacred scrolls that shape the destiny of our workplace, so contemplate deeply before taking the plunge.
  2. Empathy wasn't a one-way street; it was a Jedi mind trick to make our crew empathize with our plight. When the workforce understands how their actions resonate through the organization, they harmonize with the workplace's mission and vision like a harmonious Jedi chorus.
  3. Knowledge wasn't just about knowing the business; it was about knowing our fellow travellers on this intergalactic corporate journey. Spending more time on the shop floor or among the branches than glued to our own office chairs or endless meetings is the alchemical formula. Once you crack that code, you become one with the crew, and the cosmic gears of productivity start flowing smoother than a Millennium Falcon in hyperdrive. May the HR Force be with you!”

Lessons from managers nurturing talent towards future leadership

Anjali Raghuvanshi, Chief People Officer, Randstad India shared, “I believe that our success is supported by many who influence our lives, within or outside of the formal framework of teaching. It is up to us how we embrace them in our lives, they could be coaches, mentors, teachers, or influencers. I am a learner for life so I continue to be influenced by people and their lives and lessons. Nurturing is a characteristic of a great teacher, in this reference, I would like to mention one of my managers who has been a great mentor and a true nurturer to me. My manager not only took the time to help me navigate my workplace and enable me to be a true business partner he was equally invested in my growth within the organisation. He believed in me when I had self-doubts giving me the much-required nudge. We all need nurturers in our lives and we must become one for others in our circle. I also believe that each career is a unique experience and we should not be carried away by the success formula that we see out there, as this takes away our own uniqueness as talent. Personalize your career choices so that you choose when and what you enjoy, rather than follow a beaten path as at some point it will exhaust you. Personal growth and career development is a marathon and not a sprint, but again what works for one may not work for others. I am one who follows my instincts in my career, making choices that are in alignment with my life goals.” 

Unlocking HR Leadership through Mentorship

Poonam Agarwal, Head - Human Resources at BSH Home Appliances shared, “I strongly believe that having a supportive, effective teacher and mentor can make a significant impact on one’s career growth and development. I remember the formative years of my career when my manager and HR head, Pravin Kalawar, was like a beam house that provided me with direction and helped me grow. He shared his own experiences and insights in the HR field, helping me gain a broader understanding of the profession. He encouraged me to pursue HR certifications and attend training programs to enhance my knowledge. Through trust, I was given responsibilities beyond my current role, providing me with practical experience and learning opportunities. Here’s an anecdote that encapsulates the impact he had on me -

“True leadership is often rooted in character. Leaders with strong character inspire and motivate others through their values, ethics and authenticity”

My mentor taught me that while charisma and charm may be attractive in the short term, integrity, and empathy lead to sustainable success. He made me learn that character-driven individuals are more likely to make ethical decisions, even in challenging situations and this helped me shape my overall persona. He didn’t just praise my successes but also offered constructive criticism when needed. He helped me develop a growth mindset and the ability to learn from my mistakes. In this way, he has played a pivotal role in shaping my career and my values as a HR Professional. Thanks to Mr. Kalawar for his patience, wisdom, and passion for education. His guidance, support, and dedication to my development are instrumental in my success."

Early lessons in soft skills shape future leadership

Vandana S Ahuja, Organisational HR Adviser & Executive Coach (ICF), Executive Director - Metamorph Dynamics Consulting shared, “In my three decades of HR experience, my earliest and most enduring lessons in HR came from my parents, instilling within me a deep-seated respect and genuine care for others and myself, a sturdy foundation upon which my HR journey has been built.

My father  (an Army officer) emerged as a pivotal mentor in my HR voyage, emphasizing the significance of objectivity and a balanced perspective. This was my rich learning ground, that HR must be a comforting presence and a trusted sounding board for all employees, upholding fairness, equity, inclusivity and empathy. These lessons have enabled me to navigate the intricate terrain of talent management in my many leadership roles in organizations, with sensitivity and a deep connection with people.

Another notable influence on my career path was my middle school Chemistry teacher at the Convent of Jesus & Mary, Doon. She instilled in me the determination to be a career-oriented woman. Her encouragement to embrace independence and contribute to society beyond the confines of my home has been an enduring source of motivation, even in my numerous voluntary endeavours. These teachings are not just the cornerstone of my HR career but the compass guiding my life journey."

Selfless teachers: Guiding curious learners toward success in HR 

Sreekanth K Arimanithaya, Global Talent and Enablement Services Leader, EY Global Delivery Services shared, “Teaching is a noble profession, and it tends to have a ripple effect on people's lives. I have seen the profound impact my sisters, who are both teachers, have had on the lives of many students. I had the privilege of learning under some great teachers throughout my life. Some educated me and inspired me in my studies, some others helped shape my professional life and nurtured me at work, while some taught me the meaning of life as mentors and spiritual guides. I am passionate about HR because it gives me the same sense of satisfaction as teaching would. While formal education is just the first step in our journey of learning, we continue to learn and grow throughout our lives. As our world, fuelled by technology, constantly evolves, there is a need to stay abreast – if not ahead – in terms of our skills.

As an HR leader, my challenge and purpose is to enable people to pursue their career aspirations. I strive to do this by providing my team with various learning avenues and modern platforms to help upskill, reskill, and be competency-ready. After all, in today's world, skill is a real currency. This Teacher’s Day, let us show our gratitude to all the people who have fueled our curiosity and pushed us to better ourselves. If possible, let us be the teachers who selflessly script the success of others."

Discipline, Dedication, and Determination: Sacred Lessons of HR Leadership 

Atul Tiwari, CHRO at Spice Money, “I have always held a deep belief that one's journey begins with a teacher who believes in them, guiding and pushing them to reach new heights, at times even prodding them with the sharp stick of 'Truth.'

Throughout my life, I've had the privilege of encountering exceptional teachers both in school and at work. One teacher, in particular, remains etched in my memory - my B-school teacher, Prof. Col. A. Bala Subramanian. He constantly inspired me with three invaluable principles: Discipline, Dedication, and Determination. These mantras have been the cornerstone of my professional success. 

Furthermore, I have been blessed with another remarkable mentor, Pankaj Bansal, who has played the role of a life coach. He has consistently been a guiding light, shaping my path towards not only becoming a successful professional but also a better human being. Many profound teachings from the 'Gita' have found their way into my life through his guidance. He serves as a shining example of a selfless candle, melting to illuminate the paths of others. I offer my deepest respect and gratitude to him, as well as to all the teachers who are moulding the lives of individuals across the globe. It is my sincere aspiration that I, too, can assume the role of a teacher in some capacity, sharing the wisdom I've gained from my own mentors. In tribute to every teacher, I can only say this: 'RESPECT... RESPECT & RESPECT.”

Happy International Teachers' Day! 

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Topics: Leadership, Leadership Development, #HRCommunity, #HRTech, #DayInFocus

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