The W Suite | ‘Requirements of leadership are not gender specific’
AdGully proudly presents ‘The W-Suite’ (taken from the C-Suite), our feature series, wherein we are featuring interactions with influential women leaders in India, who share some deep insights on what being a woman leader means in India’s business landscape, the mantras to succeed, achieving work-life balance, pay parity and much more.
There are various perspectives regarding women leaders in today’s ecosystem, but all echo the same idea that gender has nothing to do with leadership. This week, Habeeb Nizamudin, CMO & Growth Officer, IPG Mediabrands India, gives his insights on what makes for a great woman leader, how gender biases are being overcome and more.
Nizamudin has been in the industry for more than two decades, having built a body of experience with The Times of India, Ogilvy, Mindshare, Lodestar UM. He is an ideator and a mentor to start-ups as part of the CIIE (IIM Ahmedabad) incubation programme. He has been awarded the ‘Future Advertising Leaders’ award with an award winning body of work, including the creation of Kodak Moments – India’s first ever gold at Cannes. He has working experience across a wide portfolio of clients like – Unilever, Kodak, ICICI, Cadbury’s, Henkel, L’Oreal, Samsung, Coke, Mahindra, Exide and businesses across sectors such as automotive, technology, consumer durables, etc.
Nizamudin is a student and believer of technology’s role in changing the way we live and a passion for understanding human behaviour.
What defines a woman leader in today’s ecosystem?
The requirements of leadership are not gender specific – a leader has to have the same qualities to be able to lead, irrespective of gender.
Why do you think a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions?
From an IPG Mediabrands India perspective – this does not hold true as a larger part of the organisation has women leadership at the very top as well as down the line too.
Do you think women leaders are still scrutinised as much for style as for substance?
I think such generalisations are the bane of any subject. At IPG Mediabrands India, where we have a large number of women in leadership positions, I have never come across a situation where this question has ever been relevant.
Finally, organisations have to run on the basis of the delivering substance.
Do you think pay parity exists in our corporates today across levels? What about pay parity at the leadership levels?
What a person gets paid is normally reflective of the person’s contribution/ value to the organisation – this is the basis of meritocracy. So, where meritocracy is the basis of growth, the question of pay parity is irrelevant.
What are the organisational factors that can impact the leadership effectiveness of women?
Firstly, if an organisation is looking at people in the context of gender or any other such definition, there is a problem – it basically means meritocracy is not prevalent in such an organisation. Every individual has a role to play and deliver to an objective – as long as the organisation enables each individual to deliver their objectives, every individual can be effective. This is how we have seen IPG Mediabrands India grow and have a strong leadership presence that happens to have a lot of women in leadership roles. The lack of bias and equal opportunity is the fundamental aspect that can enable such opportunities across the spectrum, irrespective of gender or any such factor used for evaluating an individual other than the person’s output.
What perplexes professional men about the women they work with?
I have not faced such a situation – I have worked and continue to work with many women both as peers and bosses. I would like to believe people who like to define themselves as “superior” find reasons outside of their work output to pull down other individuals. They will always find some reason to be perplexed, gender is just one of them. The lack of basic respect for individuals leads to this kind of thinking – if you respect individuals in the context of their roles and output – everything else is inconsequential, be it gender or any other form of segregation.
Do you think companies with more women in leadership post offer a better work environment and perform better?
I think companies that do not have any form of biases and those that offer real equal opportunity to their employees regardless of gender, colour, religion, etc., have a better environment and perform better.