I believe bold moves are central to leadership. Bold moves get us to stretch, provoke, and face turmoil. It helps us make choices that match our ambition and dreams. To be bold is also to be authentic, and lead with conviction and kindness. I invited two leaders to share their thoughts on this question.
Shilpa Ajwani (Founder & CEO, unomantra; Founder, SHEmantra Community):
I met you as I was introduced to Shemantra, the community of women entrepreneurs and coaches that you have founded. Communities are a reflection of the intention and the energy of those who actively run them. It has been one of the most heartwarming and rich communities to belong to, because of who you are, Shilpa. Ambitious, enabling, empathetic, kind, and challenging. I learn from you each day.
You find the shiniest parts of people and are generous with how you support their growth. More power to you for modelling so many feminine principles that the world needs so much today! May the community you have founded be an example of what wholehearted leaders look like.
Shikha Pillai (Head, Strategy & Innovation, Siemens Healthineers Development Center):
Shikha, my association with you for over 10 years is of seeing you grow from strength to strength. I see you as a leader who speaks your mind and is willing to take a stand for what is important. Shikha, you are ever ready to be available to the women professionals of your organisation. You encourage them and you challenge them too.
The way you share details of your journey with them shows me your longing to influence their lives. I have seen you make so many efforts to stimulate, train and get more women to be ambitious about their lives and careers. Your encouragement for my work has been so valuable to me.
“A bold move is one where you feel the fear, perhaps even a lot of fear, but do it anyway, because your conviction is bigger than the comfort that you enjoy currently.”
For me, one such bold move was to become an entrepreneur at the age of 45. I left the comfort of the prestigious title of a managing director, leader of an organisation, a career of more than 2.5 decades as a global leader. I left it all behind me and started life from scratch, professionally, and found my purpose in doing so.
I haven’t looked back ever since. It’s going to be the 4th anniversary of my entrepreneurial journey. I am really glad ‘Unomantra’, my strategic and leadership advisory firm, which turns 4 this year, has given me a lot of fulfilment.
I am glad to have made this bold move in my career at a time in my life when everybody would have thought it’s impossible or it is “simply too risky.”
For me, bold moves are all about choices. Recognizing opportunities to make choices that can expand my definition of my own self.
Some of these choices may sound deceptively simple. Like choosing to speak up, choosing to challenge the status quo, signing up for something outside of my comfort zone, and even asking for help.
There are internal barriers to be overcome, especially the fear of judgement and failure. Overcoming these is possible only with courage and conviction in oneself. Bold moves emerge from engaging substantial energy. Even if this is not visible from the outside.
I am grateful for the many opportunities for which I’ve had to make these bold moves. In retrospect, they have shaped me as a person and helped me grow. All are significant as they moved me several steps ahead, personally and professionally. But, it’s always the “big” ones that stand out so I would mention one that I made a decade ago.
I was offered a position that was much higher than where I was in the organisational hierarchy. Many thought that I wasn’t fully qualified for the position. It definitely felt like I was in the right place at the right time. It was a position that I had not asked for, but one that I knew would accelerate my learning. It would help me build myself as the kind of leader I wanted to be. Fear and worry did stand in my way, but I said, yes. I promised myself that even if I failed, I would enjoy the ride and do it in the most glorious way possible.
This shift of perspective helped me to ride the toughest challenges in the role, but it helped me evolve, and today, I marvel at the gift of trust I got.
Bold, brave, audacious. These two leaders made their choices despite fears and doubts. For some of us the inner critic is a constant companion, and for others it is our fears. I see boldness as walking alongside our fears. It is not waiting for the fear to go away. Instead it is looking at it in the eye, giving it a friendly wink and moving along! Shilpa and Shikha exemplify the energy that is held in a bold move. The ambition, the dream, and the conviction to give a YES to their goals.
What nugget from this blog would you like to pick up and be bold with this year?