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'We Have A Choice: Harness The Potential Of Our Youth Or Let It Squander' Sadhguru

The participants deep-dived into seeing human beings as not a resource but as possibilities and learning structured approaches towards building their organisations with a deep sense of passion, purpose and culture.

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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Humanity in All Human Activity: Sadhguru's Message to Participants 

Bringing humanity back to the workplace can be the foundation for a great workplace culture, Sadhguru said on Friday at Isha Leadership Academy's (ILA) annual "Human Is NOT A Resource" program. He was addressing over 100 participants in a live interactive session where he spoke about the current challenges for businesses, the importance of agility and innovation and why businesses need to look beyond Valuation to add Value. Sadhguru told listeners that the greatest challenge of our generation – the pandemic – can become one of the biggest opportunities to overhaul several outdated systems and ideas and accelerate innovation.

Asserting that the youth can use this time as an opportunity to shape the future, Sadhguru said: “We have a choice: harness the potential of our youth or let it squander. In these uncertain times, if our youth, who make up 65 percent of the population, are skilled, focused, stable, and inspired, we can create a miracle of a Nation in 10-15 years.” 

Sadhguru also urged businesses in the country to capitalize on rural India's potential. “It is critical that businesses spread in rural India. Your company will have a lot of room for innovation. Wherever the people are, that’s where businesses should go,” he said, adding that  organizations should invest at least 10% to 15% of their operations in rural areas.

Urging industries to establish skill development centres to skill the youth according to industry needs, Sadhguru said that this is a chance for industries to nurture the seed of human potential. He said it was important to “attach humanity to all human activity,” in order to bring out the best in people. 

In his session titled ‘HR-Rethinking the Mandate’, Rajeev Dubey, Former Group President (HR and Corporate Services) and CEO (After Market Sector), said that the Human Resource function is not only relevant, but more critical than ever before in the current time. “What I discovered early on in my HR career is that humans are the source of transformation in any organization. For me, the role of human resources is to take a person and unleash their potential toward the achievement of a goal.” 

Aditi Walunj, Co-Founder of Repos Energy, spoke on ‘Purpose – GPS for Building Successful Businesses’. “We had a strong sense that we could transform the world before we started Repos Energy. The motivation must come from within. We discovered our mission first, and then created our organization around it,” Walunj said. 

In the post-lunch session on ‘Passion- The Fuel for Purpose’, Lt. Gen. Alok Kler, PVSM, VSM, and former General Officer Commanding In Chief, South Western Command, spoke about how the Indian Army instils passion in cadets and what businesses can learn from it. 

On Day 2 Of HINAR "People First, Business Next, Profit Last”: Marico CEO 

If you focus on people, results will follow, said Marico’s Managing Director and CEO, Saugata Gupta on the second day of “Human Is NOT A Resource” (HINAR) online program hosted by Isha Leadership Academy. 

“In our company, we live by the mantra ‘people first, business next, profit last,’ Gupta stated, while speaking to over a 100 participants from 11 countries in a session on ‘Culture - Secret to Uncommon Leadership’. He emphasized Trust as the most crucial factor in shaping Marico’s culture. 

Interestingly, Gupta revealed that Marico has reported the best growth in recent times, during the pandemic. This despite greatly lowered levels of supervision, management and face time with employees. He attributed this to reciprocal trust between employees and the organisation.  

“Our tenet on mutual trust and respect is to create an environment of boundary-less behaviour, devoid of silos. We encourage employees to embrace ambiguity,” Marico CEO said. 

Resonating with Gupta’s thoughts, Raj Raghavan, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Limited), said that in order to survive in today's economy, it is important for business leaders to adopt a strong corporate culture. 

"Culture is valuable to an organisation because it reduces ambiguity,” he said. 

Quoting an example of culture at Indigo to “fly on time”, Raghavan said that a great importance is given to the fact that all internal meetings and training sessions begin on time. 

He stated that while there is no “the” culture, this intangible aspect of organisations is an important factor of how effectively people can contribute to the organisation.  

A large part of Day 2 was devoted to ‘Coaching-The Integrator’. The session was led by leading coach and best-selling author Ruchira Chaudhary, Founder, TrueNorth Consulting. Over two 90- minute sessions, Chaudhary explored in depth the critical, but often underrated responsibility of leaders – coaching. 

“Building leaders of tomorrow is the responsibility of leaders of today. They need to build and enable others,” she said as she took the participants through experiential sessions on how to coach. 

The structured sessions, intricately weaved together by program hosts Ashutosh Pandey, MD & CEO, Mahindra First Choice Wheels and Sunil Buch, Non-Executive Independent Director, Orbit Express, also saw insightful sharing from Resource Leaders. 

Sharing an actionable tip on keeping employees involved and passionate about work, Megha Tata, Managing Director, Discovery Communications, said, “Leaders must take 80% onus, the 20% will automatically take care of itself.”  

“In the absence of a purposeful Culture, the business outcomes will be there but the journey may not be efficient, smooth or enjoyable,” Amit Kalra, CFO, Director, HR, Hilti Manufacturing India shared. 

On Day 3 Of HINAR, Isha Shows By Example How Human Is Not A Resource, But A Possibility  

At Isha, the focus is not so much on the outcome as is on fostering an environment that nurtures and inspires every individual, Isha's Maa Gnana said to the participants on the third day of Isha Leadership Academy's (ILA) "Human Is NOT A Resource" (HINAR) online program. 

“Our HR department is called ‘Human Possibilities’; we look at each human as a possibility. Feedback is not outcome-centered but on creating an atmosphere of nurture and inspiration for volunteers to give their 100%”, Maa Gnana, in-charge of Human Possibilities department, told over 150 participants from 11 countries on the final day of HINAR program.  

Maa Gnana, who joined Isha 17 years ago from Lebanon, says that the complete alignment with organisational priorities allows us at Isha to see beyond departmental boundaries, moving people vertically or horizontally as per the requirements of the time. 

“As Isha volunteers, we are not wedded to a role or designation. Any change is viewed as an opportunity to grow, push our limits and capabilities. We come out of these experiences as more willing and capable,” she said  

 Yuri Jain, who is currently spearheading the Cauvery Calling initiative by Isha Outreach, said corporates should not undermine their relevance in the society as they can completely uplift the regions they are working in. 

“You can uplift your corporate goal and make it larger than life. If you do this, people will become more involved. Profits and revenues will increase automatically if you make yourself more relevant towards the society,” he said. 

On building teams for Isha projects, Jain added, "We look for commitment, not capability. Putting inexperienced volunteers in unfamiliar terrain enables dramatic personal growth by making them work outside comfort zones. They realize the enormous trust the leader has placed in them.”  

 Talking about the importance of leadership and effective communication, Moumita Sen Sarma, Director, Isha Leadership Academy, said, “At Isha, Sadhguru takes the WHY of things to a completely different level, effectively communicating his vision to us. In breaking our likes and dislikes, he has nothing else on his mind, but an individual to realise his full potential.”

After an inspiring session from Isha volunteers, the keynote speakers engaged with participants in a question and answer session. 

During the session, Rajeev Dubey, Former Group President (HR and Corporate Services) and CEO (After Market Sector), Member of the Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra, told participants that organisational layoffs indicate whether employees are viewed as shortterm costs or long-term assets.    

“Layoffs reflect the purpose and culture of an organisation. It reveals whether humans are viewed as short-term expenses to be avoided or as long-term assets with the potential to be conserved for future gains,” said Dubey.

Raj Raghavan, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Ltd), shared similar sentiments, viewing his employees as “long-term possibilities.” 

Responding to how to deal with mavericks, Lt. Gen. Alok Kler, PVSM, VSM, Former General Officer Commanding In Chief, South Western Command, Honorary ADC to President (Retd.) explained: “A maverick may not believe in the process, but believes in the goal. If he has a better way, he has to be heard rather than be knuckled down. We should channelize his energies towards the purpose of the organisation.”  

The thought-provoking sessions weaved together by program hosts Ashutosh Pandey, Managing Director and CEO, Mahindra First Choice Wheels and Sunil Buch, Non-Executive Independent Director, Orbit Exports, also saw insightful guidance from Resource Leaders. 

NextWealth CEO and Co-Founder Mythily Ramesh highlighted the importance of giving constructive feedback to employees. 

“While providing feedback, you must instill in your employees a sense of belief, trust, and guidance in order for them to achieve the organisation's goals. As a result, during each feedback session, each employee maintains their self-esteem and can return inspired,” she said. 

One of the participants, Hema Mani, Regional Director, Lennox India and Asia, shared, "It was a stimulating 3 days of group learning, group mentoring by experienced Resource Leaders and group sharing by some exemplary achievers.”  

Sadhguru had kicked off the opening day of the event on Friday, speaking at length about the possibilities and opportunities for business leaders to create impact in the world. He urged entrepreneurs to turn the challenge of the pandemic into a time of exploration, innovation and inspiration. 

The three days saw experiential learnings from Rajeev Dubey, Former Group President (HR and Corporate Services) and CEO (After Market Sector), Mahindra & Mahindra; Aditi Bhosale-Walunj, Co-Founder, Repos Energy; Lt. Gen. Alok Kler, PVSM, VSM, Former General Officer Commanding In Chief, South Western Command; Ruchira Chaudhary, Founder, TrueNorth Consulting, Saugata Gupta, Managing Director and CEO, Marico and Raj Raghavan, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Ltd). 

Guided by industry veterans, the participants deep-dived into seeing human beings as not a resource but as possibilities and learning structured approaches towards building their organisations with a deep sense of passion, purpose and culture.