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Business Leadership In A New Working World


Chitra Baskar, Chief Operating Officer and Global Head of Funds & Product at Intertrust Group

What if I told you the key to being a good leader stems from simply being grateful?

Many people might assume that leaders have gained a new or renewed perspective over the past few years, but where I believe many of us have floundered as business leaders is in showing real gratitude to those around us.

Amid a global pandemic, it’s easy to become caught up in the calamities of the world. Every morning I open the newspaper to what feels like more bad news. Yet, just like everyone else who is trying their best, I take another sip of my coffee and focus on my responsibilities for the day. For me, though, a typical day doesn’t just consist of taking care of my family; it also includes a global team of 4,000 people.

What global leaders often forget is that when your company spans multiple countries, you’re not only dealing with potentially thousands of employees around the world. You’re also navigating dozens of different cultures, customs and, with that, behaviors, aspirations, hopes and fears.

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In an effort to be mindful of the gravity of your role as a global leader, I ask that you take a few steps back and:

Be pensive.

When the global pandemic’s first wave hit, it was an “opportunity” for a lot of people to take a step back. With stay-at-home measures put in place all over the world, many people had no choice but to sit back and attempt to survey their lives amid the uncertainty. In many cases, it was difficult adjusting to the routine of working among others in one household. It was even harder for workers who didn’t have the privilege of space and equipment to work from home, as well as those who had deep-rooted struggles such as caring for ailing loved ones.

It might be easy for leaders to dismiss the earlier months of the pandemic, given all of the advancements made in the past year. But the universally humbling experience of the first half of 2020 should not be lost. For many, chasing flights and meetings instead of spending more time with their loved ones is a thing of the past.

As a leader, you should look inward at how you felt with your own circumstances and apply that sentiment and sense of care to the people who work for you now. I believe the pandemic showed the importance of bonding with those close to us—whether that be family, friends or co-workers—so it’s imperative to look back, cherish and honor those developments and apply them to a new way of managing today.

Be empathic.

In Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch famously reminds Scout that “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” I’d like to think that if the pandemic has taught leaders anything, it’s empathy.

Many leaders saw firsthand the value of colleagues who gave so much to growing an organization or persevering on. I believe this created a thoughtful period where leaders learned more about empathy. After truly taking those pensive moments, it’s important for managers to log into work with a newfound understanding of everyone’s unique struggles and that empathy should not only be seen through the lens of a pandemic.

You can show empathy in many ways. The effort can be as small as minimizing any distractions (e.g., chat windows or email) during virtual discussions with your staff or as big as not jumping to conclusions when a problem arises. Cognitive empathy is the key to social and, by proxy, business and cultural transformation—especially for those who hold leadership positions.

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Say, ‘Thank you.’

When was the last time you thanked your staff? I don’t mean a quick, “Thanks!” in an email. I mean, when was the last you really thanked them for the work they’re doing? In an effort to combine pensiveness and empathy, I think a nice springboard can be found in the simplicity of gratitude.

In fact, expressing gratitude can have a positive impact on the well-being of both expressers and recipients. So, thank your employees. Thank them all at once. Thank them individually. Thank them with specifics. Thank those you’ve never spoken with or met. Thank them. Your position of leadership does not exist without them, and the success of your business doesn’t either.

It’s been a chaotic few years. We’ve all learned a lot and grown. It’s time for leaders to reflect on the recent past to positively influence our collective futures.


Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?




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