“What distinguishes the students of SOIL from other B-Schools?” My answer to this question is “Leadership”. To explain my answer better, following are my experiences of Leadership, which I have encountered at SOIL.
My encounter with leadership started on the first day of a course conducted by Dr. Ramnath Narayanswamy. On the first day of our course we were given an assignment to make 12-slide presentation on “Who am I?” On the face of it, it looked simple, but it turned out to be the most challenging assignment. We struggled, but by the end of the course we knew ourselves better and had learnt that the journey of Leadership starts with self. That is where I learnt the first dimension, “Leadership of Self”.
The second learning came during our Theatre course. For the course, we had to put up a show for the entire school in two days, what followed was a powerful experience in teamwork. The entire class together wrote the script, dialogues, and together decided each scene. We discussed, we debated, and we decided. The end result was a flawless performance. What we achieved together in this class was no less than a miracle. I witnessed the power of working together towards a common objective. This was the second dimension, “Leadership by Togetherness”.
The third was learnt through Yoga. As part of the curriculum we were taught yoga by Susie Roy. We attended the first class with stiff bodies and reluctant minds. However, Susie, with her love for each student, created an environment of warmth and belongingness. Slowly we all started loving each moment that we spent with her. This is how I learnt the third dimension, “Leadership by Love”. The fourth learning has come from our NGO association, as part of our course. I am part of an NGO called SRF Foundation, which works in the field of rural education. We had a life changing experience when we made our first few visits to villages nearby. These villages just 50 KM from Gurgaon, seem 50 years away from Gurgaon in terms of development. Here we met real life heroes, who have done wonders with literally no means. They have had neither the resources, nor the support of people but have done wonder within their constraints. This is where I learnt the fourth dimension, “Leadership in Constraints”.
The fifth aspect was something that was told to us by one of our visiting faculty. Dr. Karl-Erik Sveiby, the father of Knowledge Management, during one of his lectures introduced us to the lives of the Nhunggabarra People of Australia. This unique tribe does not believe in having one single tribe leader! People here assume leadership in areas in which they are experts. For example, men who are experienced hunters, take lead during hunting expeditions, similarly women are in-charge of decisions pertaining to community and marriage. Their record keeping is better than any databases and spread-sheets of today. These people have led a sustainable, sophisticated and a happy life and even though they do not have a leader, they definitely have Leadership. This was the learning of the fifth dimension, “Situational Leadership”.
The final lesson in leadership is something which I saw from the founder of our institute, Mr. Anil Sachdev. This was when swine flu was at its peak. During that time we received news that one of our colleagues had been infected with H1N1. The moment the news came in Mr. Sachdev walked into our classroom and sat with us; rather than in the safe confines of his office. He exposed himself to the same risk which all students were exposed to. He also made arrangements for medicines for each student and their family. This type of leadership by the founder of SOIL left an indelible impression on most of us. And this was the sixth dimension, “Leadership by Example”.
In the time that I have spent at SOIL, these are some of the dimensions of Leadership that I have seen and learnt and am sure that by the time this course ends I would have experienced many many more.
Contributed by - Ankush Chopra - Student of Business Leadership Program, SOIL