In conversation with one of the most enterprising women leaders at the IL&FS group, Ms Navita Yadav, Chief Executive Officer of IL&FS Trust Company Limited, as she shares her insights on women leadership and how she keeps her team motivated.

Navita has been awarded “Women Leadership Achievement Award” by the World Women Leadership Congress and heads ITCL, which is one of the largest Independent Corporate Trustees in India offering Trusteeship and Fiduciary services to Infrastructure and Financial Services sector, Industry, Governments, Funds, Families and High Net worth Individuals.

How do you achieve objectives in a fast paced environment?
Four words at organizational level: Mindfulness, Preparation, Entrepreneurship and Consistency. Cultivated mindfulness allows you to see what others can’t and stay ahead of the curve. When preparation meets opportunities that are in front of you, your natural talent, capability and skill sets will get you through. With entrepreneurship as an operating standard centered around constant renewal and reinvention of business, it is possible to sustain success (consistency) and reach for significance in a fast paced environment. Our vision is to emerge as a leading global trust Company through performance, relationships and commitments to values.

How do you get others to accept your ideas?
It is no longer about what you know, but what you do with what you know.

Leadership is about being a positive influence on those around you. Most of the time people pursue a new idea because they see how it will help them, whether it is employees, clients or investors. It is important to frame the idea in terms of what matters to them. Among other things, give to others in faith, not in expectation.

What is the most difficult part of being a leader?
Leaders are faced with adversity almost everyday. The most difficult part of being a leader is to stay mindful 24/7, mindful of the context, mindful of the certainty. Leaders cannot rely on certainty because they know better.

How do you motivate your team?
People like to work in an energetic environment. Where they have a voice, where they can suggest things. There is lot more to leading them than just being smart. It’s best if you lead arm in arm with the team. Sometimes, it is important to roll up the sleeves and the team knows you’re going to work with them. That’s what our floor plan says it’s that kind of accessibility and communication that is very powerful. As part of this, I encourage everyone to take responsibility for their choices and to act with bigger picture in mind.

How do you lead through change?
New opportunities, new products, and new business initiatives are exciting moments that signal change and disruption. Most of these change efforts require significant adjustments in how large numbers of people get work done. As markets evolve and new technologies emerge, one needs to foresee the need to adapt and continually be auditing the existing processes and organizational structures. Those companies that get this right continue to grow in value.

It is important to bring all team members together and leverage their talent pool in a collaborative manner. Communication and repetition is critical to ensure that all team members know the plan and what their specific roles are for contributing to mission success. Addressing conflicts as they arrive and steering through them is the key. As the company evolves, the team becomes prepared for handling complexities in the future too. By shaping the norms, as the Company experiences change, there will be many things that it should stop doing, and many things it should keep doing.

Change doesn’t have to be stressful.

What leadership style do you use?
The construct of leadership cannot be defined by a style. It is also not about having a fan following. Influence is the core quality of leadership, but the process by which influence takes place is very different and important. People are looking for universally accepted leadership qualities. They want the one “Best” leadership style. For me, it is about influencing your team to work together in the pursuit of a common goal. It’s a dynamic process, not a property. Furthermore, it has its roots in values and skills which are learned. Consensus through participation by encouraging people to participate in setting and achieving goals.

How being a woman contributes to your leadership?
I am not a big fan of stereotyping, and so I don’t think there are as many differences between men and women’s leadership styles. I am very focused on creating an environment where everyone can contribute to the best of their ability. You just have to trust your judgement based on authentic data, get on and move fast. I believe leadership is a path that men - women take because they have to. Knowing how to pivot when something is not working, making adjustments and moving forward is key. Making sure that you are available and people can rely on you for solutions. Then you’ll draw people to you who are interested in what you have to say, learning from you and working with you. Value- engaging to bring out the best in people and the best out of the environment, is a constant for me

Ms. Navita Yadav

CEO of IL&FS Trust Company Limited

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