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The W Suite | Network18’s Sonia Kapoor on why being intuitive is good for business

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.  

Sonia Kapoor, EVP, Focus Sales, Network18, has a rich experience of over 17 years in sales and strategy, having associated with benchmark brands in India, a key emerging market with a challenging competitive environment. 

She has always thrived on challenges of over-achieving in niche markets. The ability to overcome challenges and capture opportunities, closing exclusive deals, creating and implementing savvy sales strategies has been her forte. She is known for her strong leadership skills and excellence in training and mentoring diehard teams, deriving high commitment levels from them.

Kapoor’s specialties include: People management, Business development, Media Sales, Strong leadership & strategic thinking. She has diverse competencies across the spectrum with training & experience in Sales & Business development. 

How would you define today’s woman leader in media?
Today’s woman in media is definitely more confident and focused. She has created, rather well earned, a position of respect for her. She knows what she wants and knows how to get it. She is at the top of the game as she is well informed and always ahead of the curve. 

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s media environment must possess?
Successful women often credit luck for changing their lives, but there’s so much more to the making of a women leader than luck. Luck is less about good things randomly happening to people who happened to be in the right place at the right time, than it is about perseverance, dedication and the ability to show up at 100 wrong places before you get that career defining break. I believe there are certain unique traits that define a woman leader – agnostically – not limited to media alone. 

Perseverance: As a leader, you are going to come across challenges, and sometimes things won’t go according to plan. Women leaders need persistence, perseverance and the ability to not take “no” for an answer. 

A Nurturing Spirit: I think our nurturing spirit is often confused with being lackadaisical or an inability to hold people accountable, which are not the case. I think being a nurturer, having a sense of being fair and just, and the right use of our intuition are some of our strongest traits. 

Confidence: One the most defining characteristics of leadership is confidence — having an “unconditional belief in your own abilities”. Having confidence isn’t about bragging, as much as it is about not undermining your abilities and creating a culture that values your input. To cultivate confidence in our own abilities by actively seeking out and responding to feedback, tooting your own horn, taking on tough assignments and excelling at them, maintaining successful relationships and developing expertise that sets you apart. 

Giving Back: Be generous and help others without looking to be reciprocated. Be trustworthy and trusting. Always be willing to learn about yourself and others. Look for ways to work with people, not against them. And above all, listen and over-communicate. 

Education & Information: Women leaders should seek out those more experienced in their field, and learn from them. Mentors and coaches can help a future leader push ahead, learn what works, and avoid potential pitfalls. Stay ahead of the information curve at all times. 

Vision: A good leader needs to not only be an expert in her industry, but to see the bigger picture, and understand her role in the wider world. She needs to believe that change is possible and worthwhile, and be able to convey that message to others in a way that has meaning. This quality is best summed up by one word – vision. A leader with vision is a leader who can see the path ahead and inspires others to help them turn a dream into a reality. 

Lastly, the qualities that make a good leader don’t vary between men and women. After all, it is the person and not the gender that determines a leader. And although women are only just catching up to men in terms of leadership roles, their unique experiences and supportive nature and Intuitiveness make them more than capable of leading the future. 

Also Read: The W Suite | Megha Tata urges women leaders to ask for what they deserve

Is there a glass ceiling for women in media?
Initially it did seem so. It did seem easier for male counterparts to achieve more for the same effort put in. However, there are very encouraging trends seen in the Indian media now. We see many women CEOs leading teams to higher marks of success. Effortless excellence, showcased in more cases today than earlier. 

Be it developed or developing nations, women are fast rising to positions of greater responsibility and leadership, and I believe no longer face monolithic roadblocks that thoroughly obstruct their access to positions of authority. Leadership roles are increasingly viewed as relatively androgynous, requiring a good measure of the communal qualities – friendly, honest, reliable and unselfish ascribed to women along with qualities like self-confidence, competence, assertiveness and ambitiousness ascribed to men. 

There is no glass ceiling for women who are goal-oriented and strike the perfect androgynous balance. 

According to you, what are the Do’s and Don’ts for today’s women to break through the glass ceiling?
Stay focused. Do your job right. Pick up assignments that define your talent and leadership skills. Constantly upgrade your knowledge and stay ahead of the curve. By doing just BEING, and doing all of the suggested, you may have broken every ceiling anyway-glass or otherwise. 

Also Read: The W Suite | Shivani Gupta: Women must ignore attempts to mould their behaviour

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
I believe women make for intuitive leaders. Being intuitive is our greatest strength and is good for business, as well. This, I believe, is an incredible gift. 

How challenging has it been for you to maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? What is your mantra to maintain that balance?
Initially very challenging. When you are all out to become an equal in a decidedly man’s world. Managing work-life balance and working full-time comes with its own share of stress and difficulty. I am indeed fortunate to have an understanding family and an encouraging spouse. While I may have wanted more from the growing years of my son, I never missed important days like school sports, annual day, also some PTAs. 

I believe that women leaders have in some cases had to sacrifice their femininity to move into leadership by taking on masculine traits – the price that women pay towards becoming a leader was to break their femininity. I do believe that there is a better approach. It is about building multiple perspectives that would help them understand themselves better, and leverage that understanding to bring out the best in people or teams they lead and others around them, without sacrificing their inherent femininity. The perfect work-life balance, while not being easy for most, is the only way to be. Take those breaks, come back stronger to take on more. Give your health a priority, stay fit and healthy. 

Who says we cannot have the best of all worlds. The magic lies in planning well and applying the same.

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