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The W-Suite | Most women have a much better EQ: Nisha Singhania

With a rapidly evolving business and economic landscape there is a dire requirement of fresh thinking, new skill sets, greater flexibility & adaptability, more collaboration as well as the ability to think on one’s feet. 

Gone are the days when the thinking was more on the lines of ‘get a man to do this job’. Diversity in the workforce has become a necessity today, and more so in the leadership positions. It can’t be denied that women bring a high level of creativity and empathy while solving problems and handling crises. Women leaders bring to the table a different level of dexterity. 

AdGully’s ‘The W-Suite’ series features interactions with influential women leaders in India, who share some deep insights on what being a woman leader means in India’s business landscape, the mantras to succeed, achieving work-life balance, pay parity and much more. 

Business Head, Strategic Planner, Researcher – Nisha Singhania, Co-Founder, Director, Infectious, has worn several hats successfully in her stints in top agencies of India like Grey, Ambience, Rediffusion Y&R and Saatchi & Saatchi. As a strategic planner, she has worked on brands like Lakme, Frooti, Himalayan, Taj and Tata Nano. At Rediffusion Y&R, she headed the research and strategic tool BAV. Singhania, subsequently, headed the Mumbai office of Rediffusion Y&R and in the next three years turned it around achieving significant growth and a healthy profit margin. At Saatchi & Saatchi, she was responsible for strengthening relationships with Saatchi’s global clients like P&G, General Mills and Novartis. 

What defines a woman leader in today’s ecosystem?
A leader is a leader, irrespective of the gender. 

Why do you think a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions?
Many unfortunately drop out or take a break in the middle of their careers, especially when they become mothers. Often getting back is difficult and they may not get the same opportunities the second time. 

Do you think women leaders are still scrutinised as much for style as for substance?
I don’t think so. Today, it is important for both men and women to look presentable as it helps make the initial impact, however post that, it is purely about the substance. 

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
Yes. While it is largely dependent on the individual, I feel most women have a much better EQ (emotional quotient), which helps them manage people better. Also, they are better multi-taskers. 

Women leaders in the 80’s and 90’s and women leaders today - what are the key differences? And what are the things that haven’t changed much?
Earlier it was tougher – society, families weren’t as supportive. And which is why women leaders in the 80s had to be tougher and more often than not they were trying to fit into men’s shoes. 

Today, there are better support systems, organisations are more sensitive to women and their needs and hence, it’s easier for women – they can continue to be themselves while being a leader. 

How do you maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? How frequently do you have to sacrifice one for the other?
I don’t think it is either or. Both are important and one manages to find time for both. Managed well, I don’t think you will need to sacrifice one for the other. 

Do you think pay parity exists in our corporates today across levels? What about pay parity at the leadership levels?
No, I don’t think so. 

What would be your advice to women aiming for the C-suite?
Be yourself. Follow your heart. Help others as you move up. 

What, according to you, are the 3 important lessons new women leaders need to learn?

  • You are as good as any of your male counterparts, so do not begin with the bias that you are a woman in a man’s world. It is your world!
  • You are human, don’t try and be a superwoman – Ask for help when you need it, everyone could do with some support and encouragement
  • Don’t put career over family as you will always regret it – it is not a race – the journey is as important as the destination
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