What used to be a boys’ club is now evolving into a meritocracy: Krutika Lal

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, Krutika Lal, Co-Founder & CMO, Aretto, speaks about unprecedented growth of female entrepreneurs during the pandemic period, learning about adaptation and perseverance from the challenging times, the unbiased opportunity for all, and more.

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

The current generation of leaders has seen an unprecedented growth of female entrepreneurs in India, where they support and motivate one another to put their best foot forward. Seeing this progress every day is quite endearing and motivating. We live in exciting times today, which is a culmination of many factors – timing, education, support systems, and a will to make it big in life. What used to be a boys’ club is now evolving into a meritocracy. 

What has been your major learning from the pandemic period?

The pandemic period, more than anything else, taught each of us to adapt and persevere. It helped us refocus our priorities, and learn resilience. The one thing my mother and my grandmother fed into my brain from the very start is the importance of financial independence. It doesn’t matter where you come from or how much money your parents may have; your financial independence is of utmost importance. I think the pandemic gave many women the time and opportunity to commence their entrepreneurial journey by feeding into their various talents and skills, and thereby gain some level of financial independence.

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?

Women in business, despite all the support from the ecosystem, have to put in extra effort to prove their mettle. I wouldn’t say it is a balancing act; it’s about putting your skin in the game and being excited about the unknown challenges that come along the way. I give both my work and myself 100%. But one is bound to take away from the other. A perfect balance is rather idealistic. 

When it comes to being the best at crisis management, women have been multi-taskers since time immemorial, balancing multiple aspects of their lives and adapting on the go. Putting out fires is what we do. The beauty is in our unmatched dedication, drive, compassion, and will to succeed. I guess we have to keep at it, right? So, we can inspire every aspiring woman in business to stand their ground, make mistakes, learn, grow, and succeed in whatever they do!

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

  • Delegation -When I first started, it was impossible for me to delegate because I’d always rather do most things myself. None of us trusts anybody to do a better job than us. However, as a leader, delegation is key. It’s not a practical use of your time to do everything yourself. It’s also the only way to ensure growth. As a leader, you must LEAD. That can often mean letting people make mistakes and learn from them because that’s the only way they’ll grow too. 
  • Adaptability and resilience -Life is going to throw curve ball after curve ball at you. While you may be able to dodge a few, there will be a few that will hit you. In that scenario, you may wobble, shake, or even fall, but you must adapt. It is important to get up and find it in yourself to effectively move on and manage the crisis. Don’t just stay down. 
  • The importance of creativity in problem-solving - Every time you are presented with a problem, you need to find the best possible solution. To effectively problem solve, you will often need to get creative. Solutions don’t just present themselves unless you try to find them. 
  • Staying open to Criticism -Even as a leader, you are going to be wrong sometimes or even simply criticised. In those moments, it is important to keep an open mind, absorb what will add value, and filter out what may not. 
  • Being level-headed and patient - As a leader, it is on you to ensure that no matter what comes your way, you maintain a calm demeanour. The rest of the team’s attitude depends on you. Your team is always going to bank on you to get them through tough situations. If you panic and waver, so will the rest of the team. As Lee Iacocca once said, “The speed of the boss becomes the speed of the team.”

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

Challenging times call for empathy, sensitivity, and understanding, not based on gender alone, but towards people in general. Encourage and groom purely based on talent, skill, and potential. Keep gender away from decision-making. Inclusivity is not about extra opportunity; it is simply about equal opportunity. It is more challenging for women to gain recognition and equal standing when the environment is not one of equality. Ensuring that the women in your organisation are not dismissed and their talent isn’t ignored, based on their gender, is the only real way to encourage them effectively.


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