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.
The Indian development sector has significantly grown and evolved over the last couple of decades, prompting leaders across verticals to rise up to this challenge. Leaders with a passionate choice to make an impact in the society and community at large are coming to the fore and individuals from the corporate sector are also moving into the social sector as entrepreneurs and leaders. This has led to a huge surge in corporate practices and skills like effectiveness, efficiency, scale and problem solving empowering the social sector, according to Vishal Talreja, Co-Founder & Trustee, Dream A Dream. Further, several communities, including marginalised castes and religions, are now seeing representation in the social sector, and their approach has enabled a grass-root and community oriented movement.
In this evolving scenario, we are seeing aspects such as wisdom, ground reality, marginalisation, lived experience, and generational trauma on one side, aligning with privileged people coming into the social sector with professional skills on the other, to create an interesting paradigm focused on change and reinvention.
Rising stars – strengths and shortcomings
The fact that new age leaders are making conscious career and life choices, with a focus on volunteering at all levels, is a huge strength. They are now more thoughtful and mindful as they consider the developmental challenges and find creative ways to resolve them. A major challenge here involves the pressure on younger organisations to scale quickly, forcing them to take linear, simplified and reductionist approaches when finding solutions to complex societal problems. Previously, there was a deep dive into complex situations, taking years and decades sometimes, and the new age simplified approach could actually be causing intrinsic damage. Leaders must, therefore, listen to the wisdom of communities and have a more reflective approach to problems than a fast, simple solution-based approach.
Advice on the way forward
Intrepid leaders must continue to grow and evolve, and gain access to mentors across sectors. In this regard, you must choose learning programmes for professional and personal growth, in addition to spending time with communities and doing grass-root level work. Invest in self-reflection to identify privileges, biases and blind spots. Consider programmes offered by institutions such as iLabs, Common Purpose, Eisenhower Fellowship, Ashoka Fellowship, Centre for Social Innovation and Management, India Leaders for Social Sectors, ISTM, etc. be clear on which programmes help you build a more personal identity and culture. Lastly, remember to slow down, as a society, and reconnect with each other. Fundamental repurposing is imperative if we want a chance at saving our planet and ourselves.
Technology is not a silver bullet
Yes, tech is here to stay and we are all adapting to it but we have to recognise that access to technology has brought up severe societal inequities. As an organisation, we use technology in the backend but we are very human-centric at the frontend. Considering social media, it is important that you be honest and vulnerable as you share your struggles and challenges and really show the person behind the work.
Read our previous conversation with Alkesh Wadhwani, Director, Poverty Alleviation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation India here.