Becoming One of India’s 100 Great People Managers

Iris Espiritu, Senior Content Marketing Manager,

Great Manager Institute recently released its annual “India’s 100 Great People Managers 2021” list, which highlights a diverse mix of founders, CEOs and managers who lead with compassion and empathy, and who have inspired individuals to reach greater heights. The news was published in the January issue of Forbes India and was proud to learn that not one, but two, of our leaders was featured among the top people managers in the country. Congrats to Vaibhav Kaul, Associate Director, Creative Strategy and Yogesh Arora, Senior Creative Manager for this inspiring achievement and well-deserved recognition!

We chatted with Yogesh and Vaibhav to get their thoughts on management, leadership during challenging times, and life outside of work. Read the Q&A to learn more. 

Congratulations Yogesh and Vaibhav for making the list of India’s 100 Great People Managers! How does it feel and what did you do to celebrate this achievement?

Yogesh: I felt so humbled and honoured to be recognized by Forbes India and included amongst India’s Top 100 Great People Managers. It was all made possible by my hardworking team, who have showed continuous support and faith in me. I celebrated this achievement with my family and friends over dinner with couple of drinks.

Vaibhav: It is surely one of the biggest and proudest moments for me. I thanked God and went out with my family and had a stupendous dinner. The overall feeling was definitely euphoric for me as well as for the family!

What is your management style or philosophy?

Vaibhav: I believe in actively building trust and stronger relationships with my team. As a leader, one should take that first step in giving trust and increasing empowerment. To do this effectively, I make sure that my team fulfills two preconditions. First, do they have the capability to do the job? If not, give more training and support. Second, do they have the confidence to take on more for themselves? If not, you may need to coach them and be clearer about your expectations on what you expect them to do for themselves. This way, one creates an environment where the team will feel comfortable and more empowered. With these conditions met, your team can achieve goals set for them and eventually look at the big picture and help achieve the company’s goals!

How do you keep your team motivated and what steps do you take to help them grow?

Yogesh: To get the best out of my team members, I focus on creating a light environment, so their creativity can reflect in their work. I prefer giving my team members unquestioned authority to work, while letting them know that I have their back. I take keen interest not just in their professional but their overall growth too.

Vaibhav: One of the common practices we employ on our team is establishing a culture of recognizing achievements. Vocalising appreciation helps drive a positive impact within our team. The Thumb Rule which we follow is we don’t point fingers, we avoid blame sessions within the teams. Instead, we work together to figure out what went wrong and how we can help prevent it from happening in future. We incorporate all team feedback and lay down actionable takeaways for all. This helps in overcoming any similar campaign hurdles during future creative campaigns, smoothening out the working process!

What is the single most important leadership quality that you think is needed in this age?

Vaibhav: It is important to make sure everyone in the team feels valued. They should know exactly how their role, and how they perform in their job, adds value to the company. They must also feel like their opinions are heard and that they are appreciated for what they bring to the table. The work itself drives engagement. Help employees feel autonomous and satisfied with their job and give them some flexibility. They also want to feel like they are challenged. Boring work and micromanagement doesn’t do anyone any good. I often like to work with the team to create stretch goals. Find out how they want to grow and work with them to set goals that are a little out of their reach. Then they surely try to stretch themselves, learn something new, feel challenged to reach for something, and they succeed with little support from you.

Yogesh: The most important leadership quality required is to have faith in yourself and in your team. This will build trust and a positive working environment, and together everyone will be able to work in right direction.

Due to the current health crisis, many employees are working from home. What are some challenges that managers face in these tough times? What are some things that you do to create a good remote culture?

Yogesh: We faced lot of challenges at the beginning of the pandemic, like knowledge sharing within the team, solving queries of team members, on-time delivery of campaigns. We took couple of actions which helped in solving such problems.

  • Daily 15-minute video call catchups: This helped in aligning work, solving queries and increasing collaboration and transparency between team members.
  • Wiki pages and knowledge sharing sessions: We held virtual sessions for knowledge sharing and shared information on common platform such as Wiki.
  • Focused on work-life balance: I explained benefits of time management to the team members so they can manage their work and breaks accordingly, and campaigns delivery can be made within same time as we were delivering them while in office.

Vaibhav: The working pattern definitely changed during this covid era, with everyone working from home. At first it looked like this may cause a disconnect among team members due to less interaction and engagement. Upskilling has been one of our core focuses as a team. Every individual is contributing in some or another way in uplifting the skills of other team members based on their core skill set. This keeps everyone engaged and motivated, and also allows everyone on the team to develop a platform where we all are working as buddies and helping each one grow, which is also one of the core values of

Have any of your personal experiences helped you to become a better manager?

Yogesh: To be successful in a creative field, it’s important to observe everything around you in detail. I usually observe people around me which helps me to take different approaches to manage different kind of people.

Vaibhav: One of my favorite sports is cricket and a person I admire most is Sachin Tendulkar; I have been his fan for a long time! From him I learned how vital it is to be consistent in whatever you do and how important it is to keep improvising what you do every day to endure in that particular field, while facing endless challenges and hurdle that come your way. In a corporate life as a manager, one will definitely face many challenges but keeping at it and doing your best is key. Making things work for ourselves depends on how hardworking and focused we are.

Last but not least, can you revel any secret talents that your colleagues would be surprised to hear about?

Vaibhav: While I love to play cricket and cycle in my free time, I also like to sketch sometimes. Drawing gives me a chance to do something different from the mundane.

Yogesh: I took acting classes and did theater long time ago. I wrote and performed few comedy skits for too (not so secret!)

Congrats to all the inspiring leaders who have made “India’s 100 Great People Managers 2021” list! You can check out the full list here.

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