Highlights:

  • Building personal practices/riyaz that enable inward anchoring to facilitate collective expansion
  • Creating platforms for employees to voice their ideas and suggestions to enable a spirit of togetherness, recognize the plethora of ideas that people in the organization have, and create ownership as well as creative solutioning within teams.
  • Charaka, a principal contributor to Ayurveda, had predicted that an epidemic or a pandemic will happen, when our air is polluted, when our water is polluted, when the earth is polluted, and when our minds are polluted. And, the only cure at the time will be to come together in aSangha‘ to create positivity and support one another.
  • Introducing practices to generate hope in these challenging days was another strategy that the three leaders spoke about. In doing so, their people felt more inspired and were able to trust the organization.
The most pressing challenges currently being faced by business leaders are a consequence of the pandemic. In this context, the challenges in an individual’s personal lives have increased exponentially and professional spheres are inevitably taking the toll.
At the peak of the second wave, when the situation in India was bleak and distressing, individuals rose to the occasion. Doing everything in their power (compiling resources, arranging facilities etc) to save known and unknown ones. A spirit of ‘we are all in this together’, of a united community has been the silver lining to the chaos. Research shows that our interactions with other people have a huge impact on how we feel about life and thereby strengthens our sense of belonging as well as our overall happiness quotient.
The need to reimagine our work life, businesses and organizations as communities came to the forefront during the lockdown, when we were forced to interact remotely, virtually, in the confines of our homes but still experience a sense of belonging and happiness.
Can we be better businesses by seeing the covid crisis as an opportunity to enable our organizations to invoke a community way of being and functioning? .
Today’s context calls for leaders to demonstrate a kind of quiet leadership that highlights their own intent to learn and implement conscious practice as a means to catalyse transformations within organizational systems.The approach of self first – awareness, reflection (asking questions) and observation (listening to oneself), gives way to a deeper connection with ourselves as well as with those around us.
We wanted to explore these ideas further, by asking entrepreneurs and organization leaders in our community about the ‘internally anchored and externally open’ practices that they’ve adopted. We were joined by Ankur Choksi, Principal at Studio Lotus, Garima Bhat, CEO at Creatnet Services Ltd and Simran Lal, the co-founder of Nicobar, Good Earth, and Paro. They shared about how they enabled the evolution of their organization amidst a pandemic and facilitated a sense of belonging for their people which allowed leadership to be experienced from inside out.

Private Rituals & Riyaz
The practice of anchoring oneself inwards is recognized as vital by our three guests. Practicing classical music or daily riyaz is something that calms both Ankur and Garima. While journaling, waking up early to connect with nature and meditation are Simran’s daily self connecting rituals.

Community Riyaz & Rituals
Simran Lal, the co-founder of Nicobar, Good Earth, and Paro has led key practices in her organisations, for people to come together with a common purpose, look inside themselves, find freedom and strength within in the face of adversity and challenge in times like these, creating a empowered and integrated community of professionals.

Challenges generate opportunities
Simran, Ankur and Garima highlight the importance of bridging the gap between physical & virtual functioning at their respective organisations. The shift to online for meetings, reviews, brainstorming, designing and follow ups wasn’t the most convenient for any of these organizations but they accepted the change and chose to see a positive side to this shift. Adopting a blended model of operations was key during the pandemic. Ankur for instance, along with other leaders at Studio Lotus started hosting virtual work meetings at the onset of the lockdown to understand the sentiments around remote working and manage expectations effectively. Now, they continue with the format of online interactions as they see them as ” a great communication tool “. Similarly, Garima saw an “ increase in collaboration “ in her teams once they started interfacing digitally. On another positive note, Simran feels that we can now work and collaborate with people from all over the world. Technology can help us source and retain the best talent anywhere in the world. Simran recalls how they retained a team member who was moving to a different country.

The Nicobar co-founder told us about her research and implementation of ‘Soukhya’ in her life. Which means living a life of flourishing, wherever you are and however you are. Simran shared something insightful she learnt from her study of Ayurveda-Charaka, a principal contributor to Ayurveda, had predicted that an epidemic or a pandemic will happen, when our air is polluted, when our water is polluted, when the earth is polluted, and when our minds are polluted. And, the only cure at the time will be to come together in a ‘Sangha‘ to create positivity and support one another. In line with these ideologies, Simran and her partner Raul Rai started an initiative called “ Mindful Mornings ”. The idea was to connect with everyone at work at a personal level and to acknowledge the people for ‘who they are’ outside of the roles they play at the workplace. Simran has also been connecting with the new team members at work while having ‘Tea with SL‘. This is Simran’s way of getting to know the new members while giving them a feel of the culture of their organizations.

Hope and vision created through 2020-2021.
Garima talks about how her team has started to “ internalise more” which is the first sign of leadership emerging through self awareness. Garima informs that in the Indian fashion industry, pattern making has been traditionally dominated by men. During the pandemic, when the workforce was forced to work in shifts, Garima’s team took it upon themselves to train female tailors at the factory in pattern making. This not only ensured continuity of operations despite disruption in team structures but also helped skill-up the female members of her team strengthening their camaraderie at the workplace.

Ankur emphasizes that the people at Studio Lotus are more self as well as community aware and driven. “ They want to make well informed impactful decisions while keeping the larger community in mind“. He says that the younger members of the team are more conscious of their work and how it can influence the community.

Simran, Ankur and Garima have instilled in us a feeling of hope. Some great insight on how we can learn to evolve and adapt in the toughest of times. Individuals ,organisations and communities can make a difference by coming together. Despite the inability to be physically present, we can extend emotional support and lead the creation of positive energy in our community.

About the article: This article is the emergence we experienced in our event Dialogues with Darshan. In this event we hosted Simran Lal (co-founder of Nicobar , Paro & Good Earth) , Ankur Choksi (Principal at Studio Lotus) and Garima Bhat (CEO of Creatnet Services Ltd.). Collectively, we explored the idea of reimaging organisations as communities through learning , leadership & self awareness. The entrepreneurs shed light on the daily practices that enable them to stay internally anchored and stay connected to their organizations during the pandemic.