Leadership Insights from 4 years of Leaning In: Growing Up with Lean In India

Around four and a half year back , I started my journey as a Lean In Circle Leader at IGDTUW and today when I embark my journey towards fifth year of Leaning In , I look back at how far I have come as a person and as a leader.  I happily write this while on bed rest due to my fracture on right leg. Here are just some pointers that remind me of my evolution and also motivate me to move on with a touch of satisfaction. 

Year 1: Lean In IGDTU

1. My first circle of 10 young girls taught me that my voice matters. It gave me the confidence to lead , mentor and change lives while I change mine in the process.

2. In the process of understanding my mentees , who became great friends , I got insights into my personality - Weaknesses and Strengths.

3. I learnt, all of us are dying to have someone to talk to and hear us out . I happily became that person for my girls as they did the same for me .

4. I learnt books are the indeed the best thing that happened to humanity . I started collecting books then and today I have a library of over 150 books in my own room. 

5. Young girls became my life , and I found my passion of always helping and guiding them . I knew I will be happily doing it all my life . 

6. My circle inspired me to believe in myself even more. I could see the happy impact of our circle on the lives of the girls and that resulted in me getting my confidence . 

Year 2 : Lean In Mechanical Engineers & Lean In IGDTU Council

1. I learnt that doing right for people always comes back . I had been mentoring a little over 100 girls when I went into the most depressing phase of my recent life . For two months, I was on bed rest and wasn't able to find anything positive in my life. That's when my circle ,which had now grown to be a little over 300 girls supported me . Their daily messages, calls, surprise visits at my place and the most amazing 21st Birthday , brought me back to life . I learnt Leaning In , is a two way journey. Mentors , Leaders and Members all form close knit bond and we all learn from each other . I understood what it meant to Lean In Together.

2. While it was hard to lead when I was so depressed within , I learnt being vulnerable and still productive was a good decision for me . Being vulnerable with my mentees made me a lot more empathetic and I formed life long bonds with them . It also started my journey towards emotional intelligence .

3. Most of all, I learnt persistence in this year . I failed nearly 60 to 70 times in different ways with Lean In Mechanical Engineers and my Team Panthera. But I got up everytime and stood in the face of adversity to make sure we finish what we all started as a team and my four year long dream. It did pay back.

4. I learnt that mentors lead from a distance . While Leadership Training is critical , it is also important to let the person bloom as a leader on their own. I learnt Leading from a distance .

Year 3 : Lean In India 101

1. This year taught me it's okay to be scared of scaling up . As long as you are impacting lives , it's okay to have humble beginnings .

2. Not everyone you know and love will support you in your endeavors and that's okay.

3. Humans are highly unpredictable , it's okay to be a victim of their ambition . But nothing in this entire universe can stop you , if your intentions are right and efforts are on point.

4. Money isn't everything . My first set of partners taught me this . When they trusted me and the work with their money, I knew the spirit of Lean In Together was indeed captured well.

5. Age is not a barrier. I was not supported by some critical peers at that point because I was young and I had no credibility . I did it anyway. And that's what I teach my girls too- Be scared , be young or foolish, but do it anyway.

6.  Leaning In is a personal revolution too. While your team needs you, you need yourself too. This is the year , when I started focusing on my self growth as well .

Year 4 : Lean In India - The Year of Scaling Up

1. This year showed me the Power of Dreams . From not sleeping for weeks to launching 4 programs and curating 3 major events . This year indeed was a crazy bumpy ride. For what it's worth , it was AWESOME !

2. This year I became very open with my story and talking about it more often in different forums . Till now, I was too busy with my own growth and my journey at Lean In India . And this year , I actually gathered time and courage to come out and speak my story. I spoke at 15 different forums and made some amazing connections in the way .

3. Leaders make mistakes too. And this is absolutely fine.  My entire Lean In Journey has been about evolution and I have stumbled from one mistake to another. This year taught me it's okay to choose the wrong people for work and trust them to break your own confidence.  We can always move on and proceed with positive vibe. Again make mistakes , till the time we make sure we are learning from that mistake.

And when I finally attended this year's Lean In Regional Leaders Conference , I had yet another set of learnings, that I have happily summed up in another article.

It has been such a long journey and I am amazed at what this revolution can do someone's life.
From being an under confident girl back in college , depressed due to body shaming to changing my own life every year to changing lives of the women around me to meeting the woman of my dreams- Sheryl Sandberg , the one who impacted my life with her leadership, presence and impact sitting miles away from me . These four years were indeed the best four years of my life. And I can't wait to move on to my fifth year !!!!


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