Leadership is not about changing people, but inspiring them: Renu Somani

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 conversation with Adgully, Renu Somani, National Creative Director, Thought Blurb Communications, speaks about how pandemic has helped her realize the extent of her strength, what makes women the masters of multitasking, women’s voices that should be heard and respected, and more.

How do you think the role and scope of women leaders have widened in the current market ecosystem?

I think the main change is in the longevity of women’s careers in the industry. Quite a few factors have contributed to it. This is why we see women in higher posts in organisations and consequently, different office cultures and environments.

Also, we see a lot more women returning to the job market after marriage and raising children. This injects a certain maternal maturity into the office.

What has been your major learning from the pandemic period?

There is an old saying, ‘there is good in every evil’. The pandemic introduced me to the extent of my strengths. With the increase in responsibilities at home, added work hours, increased child-care responsibilities, homeschooling and more, I juggled not only my workload, but my self-expectations and priorities too. 

As a working team, we learned to absorb and adapt to new collaboration technologies.

We could deploy to a new team simply by switching to a different video screen. The pandemic taught us to overcome regional talent divides by tapping into the national and global talent pool.

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?

Work-life balance is a myth. It’s a juggle. You juggle your priorities from time to time and you swim through.

There is no doubt that we’ve all seen women demonstrate passion, accountability, coordination, control and a capability to take command of a situation when need be. Let’s not look further than our own mothers or female caregivers for inspiration.

In a woman’s life, wearing different hats within their roles is a common occurrence. In India since childhood, we are programmed that way. Women play multiple life roles, each requiring different amounts of time and commitment. Being able to balance careers, and households along with taking up the mantle of parental guidance help women leaders quickly adjust to new situations and focus on finding solutions to real-life work issues.

What are the five most effective leadership lessons that you have learned?

Transparency: Leadership is not about changing people, but inspiring them. Through transparency, you build a stronger relationship and an environment where the team is committed to doing the right.

Creativity: Leadership is an art, while management is a science. Leadership is about people. Management is about things. People vary, things do not. Leadership is about reading people’s behavior, understanding their motivations and focusing them on the project at hand. You use your skills, experience and knowledge to manage.

Trust: Leadership is not about you, it’s about those you lead. Value your relationship with your colleagues. When they succeed, you succeed.

Decisiveness: The leader is not necessarily the smartest in the room. She must hire the smartest. The team that you build will be smarter, more effective, and more creative than you. But the tougher job is to take a decision. And a leader has to take complete responsibility.

Adaptability: Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. One needs to understand how to flex and adapt in any given situation. 

Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organisations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times?

I think women bring more diverse physical, mental and emotional experiences to everyday conversations. Their voices are to be heard, respected, and included. Management can use this to their advantage by bringing a fresh perspective to the table. 

Companies have to stop making assumptions about women’s career ambitions as they relate to their personal lives. Work from home is also the new normal. So are flexible timings, and hybrid work environments. In the service industry, women with these arrangements can take ownership of good communication, productivity, and accountability. And they regularly go out of their way to get the job done. It’s a win-win for both – organisations and women employees.


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