Leaders are never in a switch-off mode: Shivani Behl, CMO, Plum
We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. 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 and Communications industry. In the refurbished series, we seek to 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 conversations with Adgully, Shivani Behl, Chief Marketing Officer, Plum, speaks about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, renewed commitment to resilience and being agile, opportunities for women across sectors, and more.
How do you think the role and scope of women leaders has widened in the current market ecosystem?
The last decade or so has definitely seen a positive change in terms of more opportunities for women across sectors. There is more acceptance for women entrepreneurs, higher representation in boardrooms, and more corner offices being occupied. We have definitely come a long way and there is so much more to do. For me, the true unlock happens through mutual empowerment and mentorship. Women leaders help other women take on leadership roles and actively foster camaraderie.
What are the five most effective leadership lessons that you have learned?
The five most effective leadership lessons that I have learned over the years are:
- Build a culture of empathy
- Always be in an agile mode
- Hire for potential and attitude
- “Say Sorry” when needed
What is your mantra for maintaining a successful work-life balance in the new normal? According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?
According to me, work-life balance is a myth. It’s all about work-life integration. If I can attend a Parent-Teacher Meeting at my son’s school during office hours there is nothing that should stop me from attending to a work matter post office hours. Leaders are never in a switch-off mode.
Having said that it’s important to carve out some “ME TIME” to de-stress and to rejuvenate. This me-time comes for me in the form of a half-hour walk/ swimming at the end of a long day. I also try and take short vacations with my family as and when my calendar permits.
I think we shouldn’t generalise the ability of a person to handle a crisis basis their gender. Having said that, women are inherently considered multi-taskers – always juggling different roles, and are naturally more empathetic in responding to day-to-day situations.
What has been your major learning from the pandemic period?
A big lesson learned from the pandemic period is our renewed commitment to resilience and being agile. When faced with a crisis how the entire team rallies and puts in a heroic effort not just to deal with it but also to emerge as a winner ( all this while there is a parallel battlefield at home). Who would have thought that we could hire, onboard, and train employees virtually? Everything today seems in the realm of possibility. The pandemic has further cemented the importance of being empathetic, treating people with love and grace, being patient, and always being ready to lend a listening ear.
Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organizations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times?
The maximum number of dropouts happens because women have to make a choice between career progression and childcare. Organisations need to provide a support system by keeping up the momentum on hybrid work environments. During the Pandemic, we have seen even conventional roles which no one thought could be run successfully remotely are being done equally well if not better virtually. The pandemic has fast-tracked the paradigm shift and to a certain extent addressed proximity bias. So when we are phasing back after the pandemic, we should give time to women employees to adjust in a manner where they strike a balance between their responsibilities at home and at work.
Women’s participation in the workplace has just gained momentum we need to ensure that there is enough mid-management and senior-level representation. We need to create a positive work environment that facilitates higher participation and productivity.