Traditional leadership styles have given way to less headstrong styles: Anurita Chopra

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, Anurita Chopra, Head of Marketing, India Subcontinent, Haleon, speaks about the dynamics of the current market ecosystem, her mantra for maintaining a successful work-life balance, complementary strengths that women leaders bring to the table, and more.

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

The market ecosystem has become much more dynamic than it was even before the pandemic. The pace of disruptions is increasing. In this environment, women leaders – who seamlessly combine structure, creativity, and empathy – often have an advantage.

As advances in technology level the playing field by making high-quality products and services easy to replicate, the human element is often the deciding factor in an organisation’s success. In this new environment, women leaders – with their unique perspectives and life experiences combined with an ability to connect with team members – are making significant contributions in nearly every industry.

Hence increasingly, we find women in leadership roles throughout the world. Since the turn of the century, the number of women leading Fortune 500 companies has grown from 2 in 2000 to 41 in 2021. Over these 21 years, the number of women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies has increased in most years.

What has been your major learning from the pandemic period?

The pandemic made organisations around the world make a paradigm shift in the way they thought of work and their employees. The success of work from home during the pandemic showed that employees don’t have to be in the office for work to continue. Perhaps more importantly, the pandemic led many organisations to re-examine their values as well. Post-pandemic, employee wellness is discussed far more often, and organisations have become more accepting of remote working. Hybrid work is here to stay and organisations that take employee well-being seriously will have an easier time attracting top talent.

In this new world, having women in leadership roles is a huge advantage. When organisations need to tackle soft, nuanced, people-centric challenges, having women in leadership roles is a huge advantage.

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?

My mantra would be to give 100% to work and 100% to your family by taking time from other activities, if need be. Also, if you’re clear about your priorities, then things automatically fall into place. I believe women are great at crisis management because they’re great at multi-tasking and are very adaptable. I think that’s what helps them easily adapt to different and difficult situations.

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

  • Leadership must be nurtured and practised, often relentlessly. There is never an “off” moment, good leaders learn from every experience.
  • Leaders are comfortable in their skin and are confident about what they bring to the table.
  • They’re very good listeners and astute observers. A lot is going on, some said and much unsaid, and the more intuitive leaders are, the better they know their team.
  • Change is the only constant, it’s happening all the time, all around us. Leaders are comfortable with change.
  • Leaders communicate clearly and often. Doing so builds trust across the team.

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

Traditional leadership styles have given way to more nuanced, engaging, less headstrong, and more people-centric leadership styles. Organisations should understand the complementary strengths which women leaders bring on board and nurture those qualities in women leaders to have a well-rounded and complete leadership team.


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