Leadership Lessons for Young Women in Public Policy

Session Report
Reetwika Mallick

The Gender Impact Studies Center, at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a Two-Month Online National Winter School Program on ‘Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship’ from January 6th, 2024 to March 8th 2024.

The course, spread over two months, provided a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into public policy. The course led by esteemed experts, empowered young women to be effective leaders. Through a combination of engaging lectures, interactive workshops, networking, guidance by thematic experts and practical exercises.

Day 7 of the ‘Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship’, Prof Rukaiya Joshi, Advisor, Mentor to CSR and NGOs, Mumbai; Retired professor- Chairperson, Centre for Education in Social Sector (CEdSS), SP Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR), discussed the importance of women in leadership positions in any organisation and how one can become a successful and long-lasting leader in their respective field of work.

Prof. Joshi emphasized that in all spheres – government or corporate, there is an under-representation of women as leaders, despite availability of the vast literature on the success and strengths of the feminine style of leadership. Prof. Rukaiya also specified that leadership is not always top-down in nature, however, one can perform as leader and portray their leadership skills at their present positions.

How to Become a Successful Leader-

Prof. Joshi taking the discussion forward aided in understanding skills to possess to be a successful leader. According to Prof. Joshi leadership is not a natural quality but can be developed over time. The first trait of a successful leader, as mentioned by Prof. Joshi is to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Prof. Joshi referred to Austrian – American management consultant, Peter Drucker’s article- ‘Managing Oneself’ to elucidate on the ways one can identify their strengths. As mentioned in the article, Prof. Joshi discussed the need to polish the strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. The energy required to make one’s strengths stronger is far less than converting one’s weakness into strength, Prof. Joshi enumerated. Prof. Joshi also explained that strengths in future prove to offer richer dividends. As an esteemed expert in the field, Prof. Joshi clarified about the roadblocks one may face while sharpening their strengths and discussed how to remove such hindrances.

Taking the session forward. Prof. Joshi highlighted that a leader becomes successful when they work in team. Therefore, Prof. Joshi elucidated a leader not only has to work on their own strengths, but also has to identify the strengths of their team members and work on them.

How to Identify strengths-

Prof. Joshi conceded that the crucial aspect of identifying strengths is to receive and work upon feedbacks. Feedbacks, according to Prof. Joshi can be from peers, parents, professors or mentors. Apart from feedbacks, one can identify one’s strengths through self- assessment. One of the tests, Prof. Joshi enumerated is to be able to simplify complicated things in the respective fields. Being very passionate or being able to anticipate the outcomes without having any prior experience in the sector, are also indicators of excelling in the sector. Prof Joshi explained developing a positive attitude towards any field also represents’ one’s strengths.  

In the session, Prof. Joshi discussed the styles of leadership and the importance of carving one’s own style. There is a need to communicate the style to the team as well and receive their feedback. It is also necessary to understand the diverse working cultures while working with an international team, Prof. Joshi mentioned. Prof. Joshi while answering the questions of the participants mentioned about the different requirements of becoming a start-up leader. Prof. Joshi through examples charted the way start-up leaders can follow to become successful. 

Prof. Joshi concluding the session emphasized upon leadership as teamwork and the need to be a democratic leader.

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