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Commitment, Victory, Valery

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Leadership plays a vital role in one’s life; our personal life story is our personal leadership strategy. I have always considered myself an adult, as I have never had much experience of being a child. My childhood was very unique, it is what shaped my leadership style, it was based on deception and for that reason I had to grow up. At the age of seven, I had started Sea Scouts in South Africa, at first I was reluctant to attend, as there were only two girls, as Scouts was originally a movement for young boys aiming to create male leaders, and I rather wished to spend my Friday nights with my friends.

I was able to join the Scouts a month earlier, as they allowed entry to females. After attending the Scouts for a few weeks, I officially became a part of the group, which introduced me to my first leadership position where I was an assistant leader. Being an assistant leader did not give me much responsibility, but it did encourage me to work harder to become a leader of my group.

There are various types of leadership skills and each have a unique strategy in leading a team. However, one needs to remember that various situations require a distinct type of leadership. Throughout my life, I have used the following leadership skills, which helped shape the outcome of my decisions. During my time as an assistant leader, I was considered a Transactional Leader, which means that I was given certain tasks to perform and I had to be responsible for punishments or rewards due to my team’s performance. Transactional leaders hold the power to shape team members or employees in order to achieve a common goal. At the end of my first year as an assistant leader, my team won ‘Best Patrol of the Year’, which planted a competitive seed inside of me. Many people regard competitiveness as a negative term, but it is truly what motivates us to do better and shows us that there is always space for improvement.

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After eighteen months as an assistant leader, I finally became a leader. It was not an easy ride as the Scouts is mainly male dominated and the person I was up against was a man. The very night I became a leader, I went home and planned everything I wanted to do with my team, I also sat down piled a long list of pros and cons in our previous leader’s leadership style, and I was only nine!

After a long night of analysing various leadership techniques, I figured out that if I wanted to win again I had to change my leadership style to Transformational. Transformational leaders rely on communication and involvement in order to motivate team members to achieve goals. As a Transformational leader, I delegated smaller tasks to my team members so that they would have a role in our success and have a sense of belonging. I was a junior Scouts leader for three years and my team won every year; and I will admit that victory tasted as sweet as our celebration cake.

After junior Scouts, I joined senior Scouts, which was a whole new ball game. Once I joined the senior Scouts, I knew that I was just a team member no longer a leader, but that did not stop me from wanting to be the best. For the three years I was in senior Scouts, I was just a team member, never a leader even though I had attended countless leadership training courses and was the first female to represent my country on a leadership course in the Middle East. The long duration that I remained a team member angered me, as I witnessed males who joined senior Scouts after me become leaders while I was never considered a leader.

After years of numerous attempts to show my senior leaders I have what it takes to be a leader again, I was finally given the opportunity to lead an all-girls team in Scouts. My aim shifted from wanting to win to paving the path for future female leaders of my group. Leading an all-girls team meant I had to use a new leadership technique, thus I chose to be a Democratic leader. As a democratic leader, I consulted my team with regards to all decisions and also paid careful attention to their input. However, it meant that even though my team contributed to the decision making process, the final decision was left to me.

For many years, I was a leader and a team member, which allowed me to develop my own leadership technique. Although the technique took years to develop, it was coming up with a suitable name and that was the hard part; eventually I named it Commitment, Victory, Valery. I wanted my technique to have a personal influence, so I decided to use my name, as that is my identity, which makes me unique like my leadership strategy. My personal leadership strategy can be used in the workplace, at home, in the military, in school or even for team leadership.

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Commitment, Victory, Valery is a unique leadership technique that believes that commitment leads to victory. Victory comes in many forms but no matter how small, always show gratitude for your victory and you will see your victories multiply.  My personal leadership technique comprises of nine laws, as the technique cannot fully work if you do not follow all nine laws:

  1. A leader needs to lead by example: In order to gain respect from your team you need to form a unit, you need to become one. You need to show your team that you will always stand beside them and you will support them, therefore if they see you perform a task they will take responsibility and follow in your footsteps.
  2. Every leader needs to believe in themselves: You cannot expect your team to believe in you or your ideas if you do not believe in them or in yourself, as they will see doubt and lose trust.
  3. Deception towards the opposition is vital towards achieving your goal: At the age of sixteen, I became the captain of one of my sports teams and I knew I was the best player. However, it was my first time as a leader for my team, and we were up against our strongest opponent whom had never lost a game. We did not win by showing fear towards them, but by showing strength and deceiving them into believing we were stronger than them, which eventually caused unrest amongst their team members.
  4. Every once in a while a leader needs to think like his opposition: In order to know what you are up against, you need to think like them in order to know which mind games and tactics to use.
  5. Having an approach to problems, that may arise amongst your team, is not enough: Each approach must comprise of a method, which will result in success.
  6. Every leader needs to learn to take risks: We learn from failure and mistakes, it is important to fail with your team as it brings you closer and once in a while it is considered moral to give someone else the slightest taste of victory.
  7. In order to win your battles you need to know yourself, from your strengths to your weaknesses and from what builds you up to what will destroy you.
  8. Planning is a key role to success: It is important not to have only a Plan A but also to have various back up plans. If you attend a competition with only Plan A you will lose because it is guaranteed that your opposition has a few more plans up his/her sleeve to crush you.
  9. Treat your team like you would treat your own children and they will remain loyal to you: Loyalty is an important characteristic to have amongst team members because once you have loyalty you know you already won every victory that lays ahead of you.

Leadership plays a role in our lives whether we like it or not. However, the most important advice to every leader and individual is be the best leader you can be, everyone is unique and has their own leadership style so find yours, exercise it and dominate in every aspect of your life.

By: Valery Pillay

Edited by: Engy Bahnas

 

 

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Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – Diversity, Inclusion and the Holistic Wellbeing approach

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Written by: Cinzia Nitti

A working environment characterized by greater Diversity & Inclusion has more chance of being a place where new ideas and perspectives flourish: inclusive businesses benefit from those who feel very included and motivated in the Organisation. Companies with more culturally and ethically diverse Teams are 33% more likely to see better than average profits (McKinsey, 2017).

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 brought to light the need and urgency to put individuals and interactions over profits within the panel session dedicated to Creating a Holistic and Inclusive Wellbeing Strategy. The panel has been moderated by Chris Cummings (CEO Sonas Events) and joined by Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader – EY), Funda Kalemci (Global Leader, Diversity & Inclusion – Nielsen), Mimi Nicklin (Author and Empathetic Leader) and Öykü Kayaalp (Diversity & Youth Programs Professional – Vodafone Turkey).

According to the valued speakers, true Diversity and Inclusion have to create a sense of belonging, breaking the Mental Health Stigma and Empathy. So Emotional wellness turned out to be the core of those two elements: in fact, it generates wellbeing and inclusiveness at all levels.  

The covid-19 pandemic showed employees how frustration and emotional fragility affect performance and inclusion, even within the most well-structured and diverse Team. Filling the gap between self-expectations, dealing with such an unexpected “new normal” and an Organisation’s goal, proved to be a complex challenge that both employees and leaders had to face suddenly. Creating a work-life balance has been crucial to supporting the new “Smart Working Model” imposed by the pandemic.

How to maintain and strengthen a sense of belonging through screens and virtual work-spaces?

Irada Aghamaliyeva and Öykü Kayaalp firmly agreed on “connecting and communicate through a deep understanding of various cultures at the Workplace, whether physical or from home”. It is key to set a balanced environment where employees feel totally appreciated and valued – the reduction of work stress highlighted a decrease of stereotyping and a more open-mindedness towards intercultural awareness. It can be faced and strengthened through coaching sessions and encouraging employees to speak out freely and fearlessly about what makes them feel inadequate. Break the workplace Mental Health Stigma thanks to self-acceptance is the first step to creating a more inclusive culture, relation and support between employees and leaders.

What role plays Empathy in this framework and why it so crucial in an inclusive culture?

Empathy is the pixie dust that bridges the Diversity and Inclusion gap. Practicing and nurturing Empathy within the Organisations is the starting point from which Leaders and employees should consider the value of their interactions. Listening – not just hearing – is crucial: so often in HR and Leadership people listen to respond, but they don’t really stop and focus on what’s the inner need on the other side. To empathize is the choice to understand, it is a skill that we all can own through practicing kindness and active listening. “True Diversity and Inclusion has to begin with Empathy because if we don’t understand each other, how are we going to integrate?” Mimi Nicklin

Also, when employees are largely satisfied of their experience within the Company on an empathetic level, they are more likely to report high intent to stay with the Company and be high performers. “At Nielsen IQ we have a Global Wellness Framework lead by global HR Teams that works on four pillars: physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, financial wellbeing and environmental & social wellbeing”, Funda Kalemci affirmed, highlighting the importance of Mental Health within Global companies.

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Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – where balance, resilience and authenticity break the Mental Health Stigma

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Written by: Cinzia Nitti

Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other. Coronavirus pandemic caused a massive business disruption; transformation has been key in supporting employees and catalyzing workplace changes. There was a rush to adapt and reinvent Business Models. Organizations had to rethink and reconsider how they deliver services and strengthen their Organizations through a forward-thinking Digital strategy. To be more agile and responsive in such uncertain times, we need to respond to challenges and adapt quickly to new scenarios by moving from rigid hierarchies to leaner and more flexible structures.

But what about Mental Health at Work, and why is it essential?

What’s the Office of the Future?

Within the Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021, HR Leaders tried to normalize the conversation about Mental Health by putting the topic first, enabling self-care and professional support, raising awareness, and building knowledge around its related issues. Nowadays, personal and work life are more intertwined than ever, so it becomes vital to create balance: the more employees feel free to talk about Mental Health, the more they can prevent struggle and breakout at the Workplace. HR leaders play a crucial role in making an IMPACT by pushing new solutions, promoting work-life balance, redesign workloads, and supporting their Teams.

In this general frame, Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader at EY) affirmed: “Workplaces that are inclusive foster enhanced employee wellbeing; employees with high levels of wellbeing are more inclusive”. How can Organizations increase employees’ resilience and embed sustainable Leadership behaviors in the post-covid reality?

Dr. Irada Aghamaliyeva introduced the Mindfulness practice in the Workplace and highlighted its benefits on a large scale: improved wellbeing and resilience on a physical level; positive emotions, self-regulation, empathy and awareness of social dynamics; learning and innovation thanks to the implementation of flexible thinking, intuition and problem-solving processes. So breaking the stigma is possible, starting from personal wellbeing to sustain positive energy and fuel resilience.

About the Power of Empathetic and Authentic Leadership, Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury (EVP & Chief Human Resources Officers at Datamatics Global Services) stresses the importance of Leadership roles today. The virtual environment employees are working in, makes them more vulnerable due to a lack of balance between emotional and authenticity traits. Authenticity is the primary factor in effective leadership, regardless of the leadership style. Putting employees first as a strategic priority and hearing their voices to guide strategy; embracing agility to work more effectively in tumultuous time; including a multigenerational work-force: these are the key concepts within Dr. Rima’s motto “Empowering is to enable”. Through motivation and filling emotional support needs, the Empowering Teams Process leads to employees’ safety, esteem, and self-actualization. 

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. To know more about the FOW Future of Work Insights platform around the world, click here: https://fowinsights.com/

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The Wellbeing @ Work virtual Summit Middle East returns for its 5th annual event on 22-24 February 2021

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The summit provides an innovative and experiential virtual learning opportunity for our audience of CEOs, benefit and reward business leaders and senior HR professionals. The information and knowledge gained from attending this event allow the opportunity to make strategic wellbeing and mental health decisions within an organization, supporting our mission to create more flourishing and thriving workplaces. Never before has the mental health and wellbeing of your employees been so important. The Wellbeing @ Work Summit includes keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and fireside chats alongside unrivaled networking with leaders across the Middle East using our AI-enabled matchmaking platform. This is far more than a webinar! An engaging 3-day event providing you invaluable insight and tools to create thriving workplaces.

Key Reasons to Attend:

  • An engaging AI-enabled matchmaking platform to make invaluable connections & host virtual meetings up to 2 weeks before the three-day festival
  • Learn how multinational organizations are creating workplaces where employees thrive in the new world
  • Campfire panel discussions informing workplace change & mental health solutions
  • Middle East-based employer case studies providing the secrets to employee wellbeing success
  • International experts bringing best-practice from across the globe
  • Invaluable networking with business leaders from across the Middle East

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. The design and implementation of a holistic wellbeing and mental health programme that delivers healthy outcomes and a more productive organization is paramount right now. 

In addition, the results of the extensive Middle East region-wide survey on wellbeing and mental fitness in organizations across the region made in partnership with Cognomie will be presented during the event.

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