Women are leading the way in inspiring style of leadership: Arushi Awasthi

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 & Communication 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.

Arushi Awasthi is a BrandCom/MarCom expert with over a decade of experience. She has been instrumental in setting up the Brand Communications vertical at Hero Vired from scratch, and has grown it to a team of over 10 members in less than 9 months of the launch. As Director Brand Communication, she oversees creative, PR, content, brand and partnerships and ensures seamless collaboration across different verticals to achieve a larger Brand Communication Strategy.

In conversation with Adgully, Arushi Awasthi, Director - Brand Communications, Hero Vired, speaks about how women are strongest to face the challenges, Women and the brunt of work-life balance, equal-opportunity and more.

How do you think the role and scope of women leaders have widened in the post-pandemic world?

Women were always sought to be the most vulnerable in difficult situations/ changes, but little do people know, they can also be the strongest to face new challenges.

Women across the world are leading the way in an inspiring style of leadership that is confident, authentic, and highly effective. Interestingly, even countries led by women leaders seem to have been more successful in tackling Covid.

The scope and role of women in corporates or political roles have particularly seen a spike; this is majorly owing to certain qualities that make them well suited for leadership roles. In addition to being focussed and clear in their decision making, empathy, compassion, listening, collaboration, humility are qualities overwhelmingly associated with women, which organisations are currently seeking in a leader to help them rapidly adapt to the changing environment. The scope has therefore grown into multi-folds, and it’s time to grab the seat that was rightfully yours.

The rapid transition to digital, an uncertain economic landscape, charting unknown waters, working from home – how have you been navigating during the COVID-19 times? How are you maintaining work-life balance in the new normal?

Women always face the brunt of work-life balance, it is true. Even with the change in society and work norms and the decline of 'gender roles', they do end up facing blurred personal and professional boundaries, often feeling stressed and stretched more than men.

The pandemic and the change it has brought in has been challenging. Working from home certainly has its pros and cons. On one side, there is more time available for jobs to get done that was earlier spent on either commuting to work or attending physical meetings. I truly believe it has helped not only achieve a better work-life balance but has also led to an increase in productivity. But on the other, while teams spend a lot of time interacting with each other over zoom, there is no better collaboration than in-person.

I personally believe and encourage my teams to wrap up the day and shut systems by 6, digitally or at the office and spend time with friends, family, or just doing something they love. It's crucial to have time off to avoid burnout.

Multiple studies have shown how women leaders performed better during the COVID-19 crisis. According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?

The pandemic has showcased a real-time experiment in leadership and how good countries are, let alone organisations, in the hands of women.

Empathy, humility, focus, inclusiveness, and the ability to listen and communicate effectively come naturally to women, making them suitable to handle difficult situations and lead the way.

For effective crisis management, leaders need to exhibit humility and be willing to surround themselves with those who understand and listen to them. Women here are a perfect choice and drive better outcomes since they are sensitive to situations and are more open and willing to understand situations and their people.

What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?

Be Student for Life

Never stop learning. You may not always know everything, and that's alright! Build teams with people with specialised skills and let them do the job well. And bonus: you learn from them too! I will be lying if I say I haven't learnt something from everyone I have interacted with. In addition, read, take up programs, skill yourself with something new regularly.

Remain Authentic

You may hear, 'fake it till you make it often,' but that's not going to get anywhere. Be yourself. Being an influential leader is fully conditional on being genuine, self-aware, transparent, and acting from a place that's authentically your own.

Show Empathy

Empathy is a critical ingredient to building successful teams. Don't confuse empathy with being nice. Understand what other people in your teams feel, see things from their point of view and walk a mile in their shows. Be a good listener, a genuine listener. Don’t command, empathise.

Have the right questions

It is not about always having the right answers and jumping into quick solutions by simply reinforcing ideas that are already there; it’s about having the right questions. Author Warren Berger said, "actionable questions that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something that can serve as a catalyst for change."

Make a space at the table

Never hold back on your voice or alter your opinions to meet those around you. Your voice gives you certainty, transparency and, above all else, it gets you a seat at the table. Many women in the industry get bulldozed by their male counterparts without receiving proper recognition.

…And a bonus 6, and very important!

Elevate Others

Be a coach, a mentor, and give your team a sense of ownership. This will take you a long way.

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

  1. Start by hiring more women. There's no secret that they are naturally multitaskers; they are better at the job!
  2. Provide women with equal opportunities at every level.
  3. Grow them within the system. Provide them opportunities to grow and train them for/offer them leadership roles
  4. A lot of organisations see men being promoted/ advanced faster than women. This needs to change!
  5. Women who talk about marriage or pregnancy are often put at a back seat in their career growth in the organisation. Unfortunately, and strangely, the same doesn't apply to men. This need to be re-evaluated, and both genders should be treated equally.

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