Durga the leader

By the time the paper goes to press, one of my sisters-in-law has been saddled with an energetic tiny tot for a few months now. She has not only named the baby for the Mother Goddess (I wonder if out of sheer reverence for the baby’s beans) but also seen the Goddess in a new light this year.

She sees the Mother Goddess’ fighting spirit and drive in every kick, flinch, leap and yell of the toddler— it’s as if nothing can get in the way of the baby and whatever she wants at every moment; every fibre of her being is aimed to break every hurdle in her way.

Qualities I appreciate

This has got me thinking, what leadership qualities do we see in the Goddess, if any? Deepti Mujumdar, HoD — English, Patkar-Varde College, says, “The three forms of the Female Supreme Being have always fascinated me — Gauri, the demure one, Durga the warrior and Kali the wild and the fierce Shakti.”

Durga the leader

A career woman, wife and mother, she believes, “As a woman, when I look at these three forms, I see a strong homemaker, a loving wife and a mother in Gauri; a no-nonsense woman with an “I mean business” attitude in Durga; and a raw force of the female strength in Kali who will not hesitate to unleash her wrath on the offenders. And I try to imbibe all these qualities as the situation may demand.”

Another multi-tasking woman, Supriya Verma, Associate Director (Forensic) at PwC, avers, “Durga, as we see her, is a very independent being! She is associated with being fierce and yet just, compassionate and yet upright, and of being clearly decisive.

Her name is taken independent of all the other gods as she has many facets which truly represent the ability and agility to adapt to situations.” So in the end, to Supriya, “her versatility is what I appreciate the most.”

Qualities worth emulating

Being a path-showing leader herself, Supriya ponders for a bit before answering, “To be a great leader, one needs to be nimble-footed to adapt to the changes and realise what is achievable and what is far-fetched...this vision and versatility of Ma Durga is what I appreciate and emulate the most! I try and mould myself according to the situation rather than repent and spend my energy on thinking about the impossibilities. I try to make those things possible that are!”

Similarly, Deepti deliberates, “What does Durga teach me?” before coming to a decision. “Well, she teaches me to remain true to my convictions even in the face of any adversities. She teaches me that even a wild beast like a tiger or a lion can be tamed.

Durga the leader

So also, in the workplace, draw upon your inner strength and tackle any difficulty that may come your way. The many avatars of Ma Durga teach me that as a leader, I should be able to adapt myself, my style, tone, stance, manner and involvement at workplace — something I am still trying to imbibe,” she says with a smile.

“The beautiful, serene face of Durga Ma with her big, watchful eyes arrests your attention immediately. And that teaches me constant vigilance minus agitation,” she continues.

“When all the male gods failed to achieve the task of destroying the evil, she achieves the impossible. And, here is a lesson that all women can take… success is not gender-dependent. Being a woman, should not come in the way of achieving success in your career or donning the mantle of a leader for that matter.”

Deepti makes a final point, “If we look at the figure of Ma Durga, we see her holding weapons in her eight arms while being adorned beautifully in all the bridal fineries.

Here lies the answer to the age-old debate of choosing career over family or visa versa! A woman is perfectly capable of balancing both and emerging a winner!”

“So, in order to shape the leader in you, we need not look at any modern day management gurus, we need just to close our eyes and meditate on our Ma Durga,” she ends on a high note.

The eternal juggler

One of my first managers in the corporate arena was Radhika. With a ceramic bust of the Mother Goddess in her sherawali avatar at her desk, she flitted between teaching me the trade of becoming an effective corporate communications personnel while managing requests (at times, quite unreasonable) from clients while managing thousands of other things both on the office front as well as her home. But her tranquil smile never quite left her face amidst this all.

For me, her perennial smile in the face of all the ‘adversities’ is the ultimate motivator and call-to-action. It gives me hope and shows all multi-taskers it’s possible to have it all!

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