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Connecting The Development Sector

Impact is the Bottom Line for the Development Sector – Neeraj Jain, Country Director India & Director South Asia, PATH

GoBarefoot, a professional networking platform exclusively catering to the Development sector, by facilitating connections and exchange of ideas and information, has collaborated with Katalyst India and Third Sector Partners to present “Leadership Conversations in the Development Sector”, a series of insightful interviews conducted by Shital Kakkar Mehra, India’s leading executive presence coach and Founder at GoBarefoot. Featuring seasoned and reputed leaders from various verticals of the social sector, the series offers a peek behind the scenes and helps viewers find answers to the most pressing questions facing the sector.

There are many aspects that the development sector can learn from the corporate sector, chief among them being a focus on return on investment and the adoption of scale, said Neeraj Jain, Country Director, India and Director, South Asia, PATH. While the corporate sector has singularly focused on its bottom line when measuring progress, impact is the bottom line for the development sector, according to Jain. Going ahead, he believes that the private sector needs to be more empathetic in its thoughts and actions, and understand that when you do something good, it will always come back to you.

Evolution over the decades

Development is not easy, otherwise we would have fixed the world’s problems and everybody would be happy. There are no straight answers here and it is a difficult place to be but the sector has undergone huge evolution in the last decade. The impatience to see outcomes, from donors and the government, is a major challenge that leaders now need to rise up to. The development sector needs to become thought partners with the government, corporate sector and communities at large. 

Demands on the leadership

We need to listen to communities and solve their problems based on ground level insights. The past revolved around the leader’s decision but now the focus is on learning from the grass roots. The whole idea of partnership has changed. It is imperative that we understand our strengths and leverage the best qualities of ourselves and our partners. We focused on inputs earlier, then shifted to outputs but the focus should actually be on the outcomes and impact. Accept when something is not working and be open to making changes or correcting the course. Development is critical for economic growth and leaders have to think from the perspective of collaboration and take a holistic view to develop the whole population. Reskill and introspect constantly about the goals an impact of your work while becoming more agile and responsive.

Developing potential leaders

It is culture that develops leaders, not programmes or courses. We have to allow leaders to grow and come out as entrepreneurs. Try something new, even if you end up failing and unleash creativity to turn managers into leaders. Celebrate failures instead of only talking about success. Think about external career paths too, we are not bonded labour, we are here to do a job and build our careers as well as possible. Passion is important but also apply your brilliant minds. Be fearless because the sector may sometimes push you down – be yourself, be vocal and take a stand. 

Social media presence

There is a need to build presence and get noticed as it can really help organisations. Communicate with stakeholders, partners, people in the sector and the government through social media. Use the platform to build awareness and highlight the good work being done by you and your organisation. 

Read our previous conversation with Chetna Sinha, Founder-Chairperson of the Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation here.

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