‘There has never been a better time than now for women to ascend into leadership roles’

Gauri Sagar Kohli, Director-Luxury, PR Pundit, speaks on being part of the Women Achievers Awards 2020, role of women in restructuring the industry and more

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 12, 2020 9:24 AM
Gauri Kohli

Being emotionally intelligent is among the top attributes of being a successful leader and this stands true for Gauri Sagar Kohli who has bagged a place in the 1st edition of the Women Achievers Awards 2020.

Recognised as ‘Emerging Leader in PR’, Kohli has been instrumental in PR Pundit’s growth and expansion. Having proven communication and PR as her claim to fame, Kohli, Director-Luxury, PR Pundit, speaks on being part of the initiative, qualities of a leader, role of women in restructuring of the industry, future plans and more.

Edited Excerpts:

How do you feel being the winner of the Women Achievers initiative?

I feel honoured to be recognized with this special award at the first edition of Women Achievers Awards. Being in such august company of women leaders in the industry is both inspiring and empowering.

What are the attributes or qualities required to be a leader in the communication industry?

‘Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives’ - this adage by my leadership hero Oprah Winfrey resonates with me and I feel this it is indeed the building block of a good leader. Emotional Intelligence/Empathy is top on my list among the five attributes listed below to be a successful leader in the communication industry:

  1. Focus on Emotional Intelligence/Empathy: Empathy is actually a key aspect of emotional intelligence. If a leader understands and shares another person's experiences and emotions he or she is able to engage more effectively. Team members are more likely to stay beside a leader when they are heard, appreciated, and cared about. Without empathy one cannot be connected and engaged effectively.
  2. Think Strategically: The best leaders are strategic thinkers who not only see the big picture but are not distracted by side issues or minor details. To build a tribe, a leader has to create a compelling vision and be able to communicate it effectively. I feel one must be a democratic leader and also be a coach to be inclusive and gather points of view for a future forward and relevant approach.
  3. Listen Carefully: Knowledge is gained by listening and not talking. As communication leaders our most important job is to be effective listeners. We must sharpen our professional listening skills to understand the client message, listen for any emotions behind the message and consider relevant issues with respect to the message before crafting the strategy for the client.
  4. Delegate and Lead: As a leader one must be willing to delegate. Effective team leaders know how to share leadership through delegation. Smart delegation can give team members responsibility and a taste of leadership themselves, and help them to remain motivated.

What role have women played in the restructuring of the industry and how has the communications industry changed over the years for the women workforce?

The PR industry has witnessed more and more women in top jobs over the last two decades. It has been an interesting progression where we have inspiring female founders (Prema Sagar, Archana Jain) in our industry and we are seeing more female CEOs (Valerie Pinto, Sunanya Malik) being ‘appointed’ as well. I feel it is these women who have been the driving force in restructuring the industry in India and been instrumental creating a more respectful workplace and make PR an attractive career choice of women. The traditional obstacles of motherhood and social obligations as care-giver for the household have prevented women from exploiting their full potential in any career. The communications industry has been no different. But today, as companies embrace family-friendly policies and a more flexible work culture opportunities are opening up for women.

Why do we need to have more women leaders at the helm of organizations in today's scenario and what value do women bring to the table?

Gender should not be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great leader — a person’s leadership abilities should depend on their individual strengths and personality. However, I feel with regards to the communication industry women do offer certain natural traits and skills sets that are unique to us. PR is all about collaboration, participation, and being pro-social, which also comes innately to women. We women bring a rather holistic approach to the leadership table. Women are able to balance professional and personal leadership skills. Women are certainly more empathetic, they listen and have a strong understanding of what drives and motivates people. Being inherently gifted at nurturing and with communication being a woman’s strongest skill, women make a strong case for leadership. Women also make great leaders as we are great multi-taskers. Wearing many hats is a regular occurrence in a women’s life. The ability to decisively and quickly respond to simultaneous and different tasks or problems at a time is a critical component to successful leadership. I actually believe there has never been a better time for women to ascend into leadership positions in PR, today, we have an incredible wealth of talented women that are self-assured and ready to be great leaders.

What are your future goals? What initiative would you like to take as a responsible woman leader for the industry/society?

I want to mentor, inspire and effectively communicate in innovative and impactful ways in this hyper connected world. It is my goal to be a celebrated industry leader in communications who is carving a niche for Indian luxury brands on a world stage, maintaining a fine balance between celebrating our roots and growing our wings to what we can become in the world. As a responsible woman leader I want to mentor and empower more women leaders of tomorrow.

How do you see the PR and the corp comm industry shaping up in the years to come and what’s your message to the future women leaders?

PR has always been a dynamic industry, which is ever evolving. There is no doubt that it has become a quintessential part of a brand’s organizational structure and a more integrated approach has already been adopted. Given the current pandemic, the economic uncertainty and the hypoconnectivity with technology, it is clear that the way PR will work is set to expand and rapidly change too.

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