Yukti Kapoor Mehandiratta, founder & CEO of SBY (Silhouette by Yukti) Academy, is a true visionary. She’s a Certified Leadership & Etiquette Coach, a mentor, an advisor and an acknowledged keynote speaker on various corporate, social and entrepreneurial platforms, including Unplugged by TEDxGateway.
Yukti is a mentor for many incubators supported by 100x.vc, IIM Lucknow, BIT Mesra, VNIT Chennai, IIIT Allahabad, etc. Her corporate clientele includes Axis Bank, Edelweiss, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Crompton Greaves, CSI and Shoppers Stop among others.
She’s been felicitated at the Top 10 Women Startup CEOs 2020 by CEO Insights, and National Women Excellence Award 2018 by Indo-European Chambers of Small & Medium Enterprises.
In an exclusive interaction, Yukti shares insights about her leadership course that prepares leaders through spirituality.
How much of your unique and inspiring life journey has been by design, or default?
I believe life must be allowed to happen more by default than design. I did my Maths honors and then MBA and joined a bank. So, all of that was pretty much by design. However, despite doing fairly well for over a decade, my banking career just wasn’t exciting enough for me. It was hard to take that leap of faith into entrepreneurship but I allowed the default to take over design and there’s been no looking back.
This pandemic seems to have challenged our leadership into real action. What’s your view?
One of the best experiences in life is how we come to terms with our own reality. It’s only when the times are tough that we look into the mirror and see what it shows even if it’s not what we want to see. This is when real learning can happen. This pandemic has been one such tough reflection in the mirror for all of us. So, I expect this challenge to change us all for the better.
What are some of the skills you consider as non-negotiable for a leader?
A leader is someone who’s not afraid to explore the unknown and make sure that it is safe for others. Every leader must be open to explore this unknown and this is non-negotiable. Second most important are people management skills. A leader is emotionally intelligent and understands how to manage his emotions. He also doesn’t let anyone get carried away with emotions either.
What can help leaders to get through unexpected changes and external turbulences?
Imagine that one day you step out of the house and nothing goes as per plan. Through all the chaos, one thing that keeps you going is the thought that you’ll go back home in the evening. The thought centers you. It brings a balance in your whole being. This centering is what every leader needs to practice and achieve to tide over uncertainty. This is spirituality. It's not religion, or meditation, or doing positive things, or thinking positively. It's about knowing who you are and connecting with yourself. This inward exploration is another unknown space a leader must be familiar with. It comes with spiritual practice, a structured journey, as in our course.
So, what differentiates a business leader from a spiritual leader?
A business leader is someone who manages numbers, is very result-oriented and worries about what will be. Whereas, a spiritual leader brings in the centering to this entire process. A spiritual leader is also result-oriented but he’s also relationship-oriented and strikes a balance between the two. He knows that balance is where the real success is.
Do you think spiritual leadership is practical in this ever-competitive world?
Absolutely more practical than choosing any one side and realizing that it takes so much away from your entire experience of success. True success is what you achieve when you're able to strike that fine balance between results and relationships.
What would be your advice to businesses revamping their core strategies for 2021?
I think we need to come back to the basics and look at how we define and treat our human resources. We must learn to treat them as humans first, before we treat them as a resource. We need to ensure that they enjoy this entire journey being laid out for them. It's not about running a rat race but about happiness, which money can’t buy. Leaders need to make an effort to ensure that their teams are happy so the organisations can thrive.
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