Roma Balwani
Roma Balwani

Anecdotally, we refer to different leadership traits between man and woman. Whenever I look at a digital word cloud on leadership what gets thrown up are different elements that define leadership between the genders. As a girl child we tend to seek approval, when you become a leader you imbibe those values of compassionate consideration that one expects from our family.

Women have excelled and faced similar power struggles like men. So, why the difference? Frankly, there is none, maybe an inherent few that can be termed as different. During the pandemic, I discovered all my fallacies about leadership traits being equal demonstrated in the past, fell by the wayside!

I have lived and worked in Norway, and from every angle leadership of a woman is challenged in many ways. The only difference I found there was the atmosphere that permeated Attitude, Acceptance, Ability and Action to pivot.

And, what emerged were sterling examples of compassionate leadership, which brought together a force of combined strengths and women took the lead. As I found myself listening more to my inner self, it’s the complexity of the situation which demanded a woman leader to bring action with compassion. Positive Attitude towards the human complexities that surfaced, the Acceptance to bring harmony among the chaos that raged both outside due to the uncertainty at the workplace.

Ability to demonstrate mindful leadership in the circumstances that was suddenly faced by humanity. Little acts of kindness lead to generosity of thought and action, more compassionate approach to Action is dared to take risks and strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to stay grounded.

As an Independent Director of another company and the only woman on the board, and Chair for CSR, over the years, I have noticed the change a woman brings in the thought process of the entire board — in decision-making and effectiveness. A Norwegian research report states the participative management style of women leads to more productive discourse as women demonstrate higher sensitivity as compared to their male counterparts.

Women’s attention to the needs of the others leads to active participation of a strategic nature that concerns the firm’s stakeholders. Being sensitive to others’ needs can influence decisions pertaining to organisational practices such as Corporate Social Responsibility, and sustainable and environmental practices. While debate is necessary, women board members provide balance to resolve conflicts.

We women will stay true to demonstrating compassionate leadership with compassionate communication. At Vedanta, we quickly pivoted to compassionate communications. Realising that mental health and well-being is the need of the hour and the women-led task force immediately instituted a 24x7 helpline that could handle the deluge of queries during Covid and maintain staff well-being with the help of counsellors.

I am reminded of these words that ring true from a wise sage of our times, the eminent Dalai Lama: “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.”

(The write is Sr. Director, Brand & Communications, Vedanta Group)

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