Sharad Mehra Can we do something to educate our own guards, gardeners and housekeeping staff who have the will and hunger to learn, but lack the resources? A fair question from a young colleague who emphasised that while we're educating the world as part of our mission, won't it be easier to undertake this initiative? The passion, conviction and the simple logic of my colleague was so strong that it left me thinking. Fast forward to the future and ' Project Aashayein' was launched. It provides higher education to our staff who missed the opportunity to learn owing to lack of resources. Today, it's taken off in a big way and I hope the world is richer with more knowledge.
This experience establishes that being the most dominant or entitled voice in the organisation is no longer considered leadership. Rather, it's about being in someone else's shoes, understanding their need and actioning something concrete to fulfill it. The secret to designing people's strategy is making every organisation human: with an empathetic heart, balanced head for vision and ears for listening to what people really want and how they want to be led. It's critical for engaging, nurturing, upskilling, and retaining talent. It's also about trusting your people & empowering them.
A successful people strategy is one that addresses these basics: the kind of culture an organisation embodies, the skills and talents it houses and what are the tools that will lead to success. No wonder that the spotlight has shifted to building a healthier work culture and mental well-being of employees. Designing people policies keeping in mind the interest of the employees not only helps the individuals but also adds to the overall growth of the company as there is a higher job satisfaction level. This is reflected in a report by Catalyst that emphasises upon the importance of empathy in increasing employee productivity and engagement.
The Importance & Impact of Empathetic Teams Our most recent in-house initiative 'Project Happiness' gives multiple opportunities from support staff to senior leaders to educate & upskill from undergraduate to post graduate courses & MBA, access topline healthcare and counselling, team celebrations, social clubs, gratitude wall, stress buster corners and appreciation meet-ups with leadership. The idea is to bolster an empathetic ecosystem that helps our people blossom in their professional and personal life at their pace with their individual aspirations. Why? Because the secret to success is not just profits, but happy people who are seen, heard, held and supported. Most importantly, it also drives the reputation of an organisation to greater heights.
- Empathy fosters a culture of trust, support and transparent communication within teams. Employees learn to take ownership as a team for their wins and losses and find ways to scale challenges. In the big picture, it benefits the organisation as well as it increases sales and investment opportunities, productivity and creates lasting bonds.
- It boosts creativity, innovation, collaboration, adaptation and inclusion for diverse workforces. People value their differences as an additional strength rather than an impediment.
- An empathetic organisation that encourages employees to ask questions, share feelings, opinions, feedback and validate their feelings goes a long way.
It's important for organisations to continuously scale up their empathy meter by designing strategies for their people to thrive. Being vulnerable, giving and receiving feedback, prioritizing emotional safety are some significant arsenals that should be a part of every organisation. American Poet & Civil Rights Activist Maya Angelou has demonstrated the value of empathy in these powerful lines, "I've learnt that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel."
The author, Sharad Mehra, is CEO - Asia Pacific at Global University Systems (GUS).
The 'new-normal' leadership: Joining hearts & minds in the post COVID era
Let's take look at some leadership lessons that have emerged from the pandemic: Breakdown? No, breakthrough! These famous lines from the film Jerry McGuire best summarize the incredible opportunity the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded for global leadership.