In Conversation with Ashish Vidyarthi on Leadership Excellence

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Ashish Vidyarthi is a National Award Winning Actor, Internationally Acclaimed Motivational Speaker and Thought Leader. He has worked in over 230 films in 11 languages over his 26 year career.

He is the founder of Ashish Vidyarthi And Associates through which he and his team have been engaging in Leadership Conversations with. Over 100 organisations in India and abroad have been contributed to, by Ashish Vidyarthi and Associates.

His assimilated life experiences of working across cultures and scenarios are woven into jargon-free, easy to comprehend and application-friendly conversations. Each curated into experiential learning programmes to match the needs of the organisations.

Some of the notable organisations which have used his services are Wipro, Mahindra & Mahindra, Bayer, Dell, Accenture, HSBC, Bosch, Titan, CEATWockhardt, MakeMyTrip, and BPCL.

He specializes in Ignite conversations meant to, as the name suggests, Ignite people’s minds into action. A traveler, a writer, a communicator & an actor too, Ashish believes that each one of us has many roles to explore and ability to fulfil multiple dreams.

Q- Heartiest congratulations to you on your success as National Award Winning Actor and also as World Renowned Thought Leader & Motivational Speaker. How do you look at your Career Journey today?

Thank you Romesh! Your question itself tells that everyone has a journey; we call it life journey or career journey. For example, I have done films in 11 languages as an Actor, other than that I am also a Photographer, Corporate Trainer, Motivational Speaker. I write blogs. I don’t categorize anything as a specific change but definitely see each as a milestone in Career.

I started as a Theater Actor in Delhi and then moved to Mumbai as Hindi Film Actor and over the last 18 years have also started working across 11 languages in films. And I have been interacting with the corporates since last 6 years. Initially, I started as a motivational speaker with each of my speech being curated and now, I also conduct communication and leadership workshops, corporate coaching and CXOs executive presence.

Any works we do, is expression of our Life;when we think this way, we can have our expressions in work and it adds multiple dimensions in our life,which I cover for myself.

Q-Already know, you are a well established and high repute Actor, what has inspired you to also make a career as motivational speaker?

When you are entering a new field, one of the important things is how much are you willing to learn?  I have been a keen learner and as, it is inherent in an Actor, the willingness to learn new things.  As I started communicating in the HR gamut, it required me to study and learn, go deeper into new things. I have been lucky to go in pool of conferences and get opportunities to interact with multiple stalwarts of Industry and these interactions allow me to further widen my learning of current updates of industries. And in this journey, I have also made many extraordinary friends.

What inspires me when people can celebrate their life with a smile. Because that smile is not just at work, it is the same person that will take the smile back to home.  

Q- Leadership Excellence helps organizations to develop great leaders. What is Leadership Excellence to you? And why a Culture of Leadership Excellence is so vital to the organizational success?

For me a leader is someone who is nurturing collaborator. The leader is inspiring; the leader is managing the human achievements. Leaders know their role is not just getting things done but to create special atmosphere at workplace that people experience and they can achieve greater heights. So for a leader who creates an environment in which people can express themselves fully and experience that they are being taken care of. So nurturing collaborator allows people around to express and bring out their best.

More so I have felt that a leader is a person who is ready to ask interesting questions, ask support and bring out the best in others by asking, can they take that on? A leader is someone who challenges others by asking to go beyond their comfort zone. 

So leader has the dual role: first, people should feel safe around the leader and second, they should feel challenged by the leader. That wins each person in the team.

Q- How can we build a culture of leadership excellence in organization?

You are talking about the essentials of values and culture of an organization to boost talent  development and leadership excellence.

Let’s look at what kind of culture needs to be avoided; Toxic Culture, the culture in which people are competing with one and trying to put other persons down, trying to blame someone.

Let’s look at the opposite one, the culture in which people are welcomed to question, to create, to suggest, to take on new game, to seek support, to go beyond what they thought they could. So, the culture in which people are given the opportunity to lead and take calls.

I personally think that as we mute people and ask only to say right things, they end up doing less than what they could. 

Leadership is also to allow people to take charge and giving others the leadership. In such an atmosphere where people are allowed to communicate new thoughts and innovations. Given that kind of freedom they take on creating new projects by taking on their own teams.  I think such a freedom allows people to make their own mistakes and create their own learning. 

Nothing is more powerful than a stakeholder in organization getting that my organization trust us and care us, they go above and beyond for what we are hired.

Q- In any organization, motivating your team or employees, and keeping them engaged is challenge for HR professionals. What are easy steps which can help motivating your employees and get positive employee engagement?

Any sort of routine or something which adds to boredom or anything repetitive which dulls the mind should be avoided. As people are allowed to think beyond the obvious they start getting engaged.

I would like pick few steps as below.

  • Inviting people to play some thought game or picking up some topics which can be discussedon daily or weekly basis and ask people to question in workshop.
  • Break the rhythms;create some diversions from regular which enthuses the people.
  • Allowing people to get the reason to have smile each day.
  • Surprise them at work; bring something which is mixed of work.

Q- The digital age has significantly changed the nature and functions of business. In the midst of a digital evolution, what is importance of Human Touch? And how does “Human Touch” influence leadership and management imperatives?

Human touch is only a band of well-doers for Artificial Intelligence. In some instances, even when technology can do an adequate job, we still want to deal with a person. While a machine can perform a given task, often more efficiently than a human can, what it lacks is the artistry in the activity, that uniquely human ability to cater to the needs of the individual.

When HR can create programmes which can bring smile to the face of the employees and in-turn on that of the client, the client feels valued and remains loyal to the brand.

Q- What is your advice to HR professionals?

I don’t have advice but personally I never relate HR as support function. Can we ever think that engineering is a support function? We can’t. HR hires and takes care of those employees who are taking calls which make your organization what they are. HR is integral part of the profit centre. HR has to really take that premium position for it take the responsibility, that’s why the accountability that each person goes through HR process which has to have that kind of training, that kind of agility available. HR Fraternity is warm and passionate community which nurtures the people who make an organization.

Q- If you had to join any political party today, which one would it be, and why?

I am not a person for that. I think will not join any political party.

Thank you Ashish!

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