#WomenDisruptors: Lulu Raghavan’s 5E mantra for effective leadership

We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. ‘Women Disruptors’ is Adgully’s special initiative to bring to the fore some remarkable women achievers in M&E, Advertising, Marketing, Communications industries, how they think, how they manage things, how they lead from the front and much more. 

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Featured this week is Lulu Raghavan, Managing Director, Landor Mumbai. Lulu has been at Landor for 19 years. She has worked at Landor’s San Francisco, New York and London offices in various roles, including naming manager, brand strategist, corporate strategist and client director before setting up Landor in Mumbai and then heading the business. Lulu spearheaded Landor’s entry into the Sri Lankan market, where the company has been operating through a partnership for over five years now. 

She was on the Cannes Lions Design Jury and the Young Lions Design Jury at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in 2018. She passionately evangelises the power of design and brands to create commercial value and social impact. Most recently, Lulu was conferred with the AACSB 2020 Influential Leader Award, chosen as the only Indian from 850+ AACSB accredited schools across 56 countries. 

How do you inspire and motivate your employees as a leader?

Lead by example. Whatever you want your employees to do, you must do yourself. There is no faster or more authentic way to inspire and motivate. This is exactly how kids learn as well by watching their parents. 

Some important and valuable tips to become a winning leader?

I have five Es which I try to keep front and centre:

  • Empathy: Always putting myself in the shoes of my team members. How will they view this situation? What will they feel?
  • EQ: Emotional Intelligence: A heightened sensitivity to the feelings of everyone on the team so you can give a pat on the back, be a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on or boost esteem as needed. Always monitoring the collective mood of the team and keeping it positive and productive.
  • Energy: Bring lots of energy and passion to the role as your energy as a leader transmits right through the entire organisation.
  • Equitable: Be fair and impartial. Not letting biases get in the way of decision making. Have the guts to make the unpopular calls as well. Always being clear on the fairness of your decisions.
  • Execution: A bias for action. Great leaders inspire their teams to get things done. Every day. This is assuming the vision and strategy are in place, of course. 

Role model that you can associate as a great leader to follow. 

It’s hard to point to leaders from other organisations, because it is only when you have worked under a leader or in close quarters do you know the true picture. My role model would be a leader who embodies all the five traits of empathy, EQ, energy, equitable and execution. 

Your secret to nurture and train your people to be a leader in the future?

Nothing surpasses the time tested tradition of the Gurukul philosophy – master and apprentice. I strongly believe that this is the only way (albeit not a super scalable one!) to fully develop expertise, management and leadership. One of my ex-bosses at Landor, Bengt Eriksson, was a great believer in this school of thought, especially in our industry, which is professional services and consultancy. As a leader, you must spend a lot of time with your people, get to know them as human beings, allow them to watch you in action in a variety of situations, give them opportunities to learn by doing and provide feedback and course correction as required. You believe in them and when it is time you shine the light on them and you recede to the background, always there for support and guidance. 

Fighting a crisis situation - how do you go about?

Take a deep breath. Everyone involved should close their eyes and count to ten. After a two-minute silence during which you have hopefully settled down your racing mind and slowed down your heartbeat, start by calmly listening to understand all the facts. It’s really important to listen and understand without any judgement or jumping into solution mode. Interrogate, verify, fully understand the facts. Reflect on the facts and either make a decision on the spot or agree to come back to it after further thought within a specific timeframe, depending on the urgency of the situation. If you have made a mistake, it is critical to admit the mistake, apologise profusely, find a way to make up for the mistake and then rectify processes to ensure it does not happen again. Like the Mandarin letter for crisis, which is the same as the letter for opportunity, every crisis should be viewed as an opportunity for growth and progress.


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