Leadership is a dynamic task which requires one to multitask and do so efficiently. Sometimes leaders are the product of crisis or extraordinary situations. In my case, I had never faced a crisis or extraordinary situation until I decided to start a business of my own where I needed to lead my staff.
The Common Purpose South Asia Venture in Mumbai focused on informative lectures, interactions among participants, field visits, guest lectures, presentations and evaluations – all of which was done seamlessly. It started with randomly talking to a guy next to you and switching to another person every 2 minutes. During this exercise I realized that I could make conversation with a stranger without being awkward, and that slowly infused a sense of confidence.
I stumbled upon this programme when I was anxious about my new venture and had questions in my mind about its success. Would people like it? A visit to the Indian School of Design & Innovation, where it was reiterated that no idea is a bad idea and the importance of innovating and considering problems as opportunities, assured me that I was on the right track. Now I could focus more on solving problems instead of worrying about them.
Visits to NGOs and institutions working in the social sector and understanding their challenges and opportunities helped me to identify the various verticals of Indian society and culture. These visits highlighted how important it is for a leader to be culturally intelligent.
The five day process was well crafted because it started with concreting our base (the idea of leadership) and went on to becoming experiential, practical and outside the banquet hall. For example, in the morning lectures were given and field visits used to supplement practical knowledge. Theory, firsthand experience and then application was a unique way of funneling the entire process. Technology and its application in increasing access to education was the foundation of our programme, as problems in this sector are common to even neighboring countries where other participants had come from. Working in a group, taking initiatives, doing different tasks, hitting deadlines, thinking out of the box, believing in accomplishing bigger goals and keeping disputes and differences at the bottom were the qualities this whole process tried to inculcate in us.
Writing our reflections of each day in our work books before the close of day was an interesting exercise which helped us revisit everything we did. It also made me realize that I had stopped the practice of writing a diary every day and if I started again it would be of great utility.
The one who learns is a good leader but the one who learns, observes and implements is a great leader. Learning came to me through not just lectures and visits but also from observing my fellow participants – for example, their oratory skills, situational skills, patience, etc. These are the skills I would want to imbibe in myself.
Before attending this programme I had questions to which I wouldn’t have got satisfactory answers with the help of few articles or YouTube videos. My friend accidentally told me about this programme and I had time to attend it. I'm so glad I did. I didn't ask my questions to people I met there and yet I got answers – where I stand in the entrepreneurial journey I am about to begin, and where I am headed.