Our world around us is crazy, disruptive and volatile. Come to think of it, that is an apt description for most of our lives too, if you’re a female living in India! Everyday, there are new challenges, new opportunities and new issues to balance, whatever stage of your life you are at. And whether we like it or not, we are learning every day how to take life on and make it satisfying for ourselves, instead of feeling tired and burnt out all the time.
That’s where GROW comes in. GROW in this context stands for the Growth and Revitalisation Of Women. This column is for you to get a sense of some of the ways in which other women across the world are tackling what is happening in their lives, taking stock and using that to create the lives that they want to lead, that works for them. It will not always be work-related – our work lives and the rest of our lives are inextricably intertwined and one impacts the other considerably. Gone are the days that you leave your problems at home when you go to work. So the column is going to be looking at anything that helps us GROW.
To start with, I thought I would look at the top skills that are being touted as the ones needed to succeed at work today. With all the volatility in the world, from oil prices, to Brexit, to a poor Monsoon, companies are having to react superfast, which means their employees (read you and me) need to be able to deal with sudden changes AND have our teams accept them too. At a global conference in Mumbai 2 weeks ago, it struck me that these are skills not being taught in a school classroom and can not even be taught on an MBA course either. These are ‘experiential’ skills that seem to be best built up over time. What are they? The ones that were discussed were
1) Political analysis
2) Client understanding
3) Understanding of society
5) Critical thinking
6) Cognitive flexibility
8) Emotional Quotient
When I look at that list, I feel immediately that women have such a huge advantage. We’re queens of the first 4 points – anyone who has dealt with in-laws and complex family issues will no doubt know that successful relationships are about looking at what is in it for each party, why they think that and how to communicate effectively there. As for the next 4, if anyone has young children, you will have learnt how to keep them creatively entertained, in an educational way, whilst keeping their emotional state in mind. Cognitive flexibility is ‘the ability to spontaneously restructure one’s knowledge, in many ways, in an adaptive response to radically changing situational demands.’ Well, if you have ever fed a child that does not want to eat, you will know how inventive you can become with a tablespoon of food, so we qualify pretty well here too!
So I say bring on the challenges, bring on the volatility – we have already proved that we can deal with these at home. It is just time to bring them to the workplace. See, many women I have met believe their experience of staying at home for a number of years means they do not have the skills to go back into the workplace. On the contrary baba, you have the perfect skills. You just need to have the confidence to use them. And in doing so, you will support your teams at work to flourish. And of course GROW.