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As a leader, being nimble footed can be your biggest asset: Radhika Nihalani

We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. Last year, we launched our unique and distinct program, called WOMEN DISRUPTORS, which drew a lot of attention and was highly appreciated by the industry. W-Suite is a special initiative from Adgully that has been turning the spotlight on some of the most remarkable women achievers in M&E, Advertising & Marketing, PR & Communication industry. In the refurbished series, we will find out how women leaders have been managing their teams and work as well as how they have been navigating through the toughest and most challenging times brought about by the global pandemic. 

In conversation with Adgully, Radhika Nihalani, CEO/ Founder, ThinkInk Communications & Think Talkies, speaks how the empathy factor has proven to be immensely crucial especially during the challenging times of the pandemic, what makes women best at crisis management, maintaining work-life balance and more. 

How do you think the role and scope of women leaders have widened in the post-pandemic world?

In my opinion, women have always been an important spoke of any leadership wheel. Personally, I don’t like to differentiate leadership basis gender as styles are very personal. However, I do believe that women end up bringing a lot of empathy in their leadership styles, which adds a lot of humanness to an otherwise corporatised structure, and that has proven to be immensely crucial in a time like this. 

The rapid transition to digital, an uncertain economic landscape, charting unknown waters, working from home with no modes of the usual contacts – how have you been navigating during the COVID-19 times? What were the challenges that you faced and how did you tackle them?

The only way to navigate through tough times is to make yourself tougher. To have the vision to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to have the ability to adapt along the way.

When COVID-19 struck, it did shake everyone and rattle businesses, but I am a believer that even during the most difficult times, there are opportunities. One needs to have the determination to find them.

The biggest challenge was not being physically together as a team and that was missed a lot. At Think Ink, we are like a close knit family and we thrive in our time together. So, we changed gears to make the online life as conducive as we could – be it just virtually hanging out for some non-work related chats to continuing all our team building and cultural activities online – we tried our best to stay as close and connected in the digital world like we were in the real world. 

How challenging has it been for you to maintain a balance between managing the team & office work on the one hand and family responsibilities on the other as boundaries blurred while working from home? What is your mantra to maintain that balance?

It’s hard! I am a mother of a toddler and it’s definitely not easy managing home, a baby and work simultaneously. But again, it’s about aligning your mind and lifestyle to meet the situation at hand. As a leader (man or woman), being nimble footed can be your biggest asset. Adjust, adapt and accept have been three constants for me and helped me a lot in multiple critical situations including the current one.

Specifically coming to work life balance, for starters, I love the madness that comes with my work and enjoy it completely. However, I do ensure that my time with my child/ family is as uninterrupted as it can be, as is my time for work. I also make sure I take out (at least an hour) for myself, just myself – in the day, either to go for a run or read a book or just do nothing. It’s as important to spend on yourself as it is to spend time on work and family.

Multiple studies have shown how women leaders performed better during the COVID-19 crisis. According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?

Like I said, I believe all leadership styles are different and should be not categorised basis gender. However, the empathy, as mentioned earlier, gives women an edge, especially in times like these. 

What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?

  • Create opportunities, don’t wait for them to happen
  • Recalibrate your losses, and do it quickly. Nothing is the end of the world
  • There is learning in everything. EVERYTHING!
  • A leader is as good as his/ her team. Encourage mistakes, ownership, openness and exchange. Create a work environment that lets people thrive
  • Set high standards for yourself
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