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“The pandemic has brought in more Empathetic and Authentic Leadership Styles”, Archanna Das, CEO, ASCENT



Amazing Workplaces team recently spoke to Archanna Das, CEO, ASCENT. In her current role, Archanna propagates a leadership ethos that centers on Empowerment in its true sense, embracing the entrepreneurial spirit that drives her at work. She also extends this also extends to her team, creating a culture that helps her create an organic and synergistic fit between her skills and the leadership capabilities required in roles of not-for-profit with social, economic and environmental global impact.


We spoke to Archanna in detail about the changes and challenges that the pandemic brought about for leaders, their role in building the workplace culture especially in a hybrid environment and how ASCENT is building an eco-system for entrepreneurs to help each other in coping with the drastic evolvement of workplace dynamics.



What are some of the changes that the Pandemic has brought about in leadership behaviors?


Ans. With COVID-19, Leadership has taken on greater significance. The pandemic has brought in more Empathetic and Authentic Leadership Styles.

Conversations on Mental health have become a part of the dictionary to even acknowledge the multiple kinds of stress that people are experiencing. There is no such thing as ‘over-communication’ in the leadership vocabulary any longer. Establishing new standards when the world of work slows down and uncertainty looms large, the emphasis is largely on leadership communication abilities to keep their teams connected. This also means increased flexibility and agility. Struggling with a burnout at work or finding it challenging to find happiness at work, Empathy is a perfect antidote and contributes to positive experiences for team members.



According to you, what are the top 3 most important things that leaders need to cultivate to ensure a good culture in the organization?


Ans. Company culture is an important aspect of doing business. It has an impact on practically every area of a business. It is the foundation of a happy workforce, from recruiting top talent to boosting employee happiness. Many employees will struggle to discover true value in their work in the absence of a positive business culture, which has several negative ramifications for your bottom line. Among the activities that have assisted ASCENT entrepreneurs in developing a positive business culture are:

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Hybrid work culture. Almost all companies are adopting hybrid work cultures. Hybrid work culture has also enabled an increase in the retention of women employees especially women post-kids. Some of the members in our ASCENT cohort have seen that to their great advantage.

Employee Wellness has also become important conversation at workplace. Ensuring the employees have the space to speak, be heard, and also feel safe.

Empowering Creativity – Considering today’s need for organizations to thrive on constant change, creativity becomes an essential factor in the success and scaling up of organizations.


What are the key challenges of a Hybrid model? How can organizations counter these challenges?


Ans. Post-pandemic, hybrid working is becoming more common. And there’s no prospect of businesses returning to the nine-to-five, five-day workweek anytime soon. However, hybrid models of work, like anything else in the new future of work, come with their own set of obstacles. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent issues of hybrid working models and how leaders and teams can collaborate to overcome them.


Developing a healthy work-life balance


The challenge: According to several research, most people’s work-life balance has improved since the pandemic. However, some employees have reported being unable to shut off, which has had a significant impact on their mental health. As a result, many businesses have boosted their investment in workplace well-being, implementing innovative support systems to assist their employees in achieving a great work-life balance even while working remotely.


The solution: Companies that choose to remain hybrid post-pandemic must maintain this focus on wellness to prevent burnout and ensure people continue to feel supported. Managers and leaders must provide an opportunity for team members to discuss their health and well-being. This might happen through one-on-one check-ins, virtual team coffee breaks, or meetings with outside wellness experts. Making wellness a topic of discussion within your teams will help people feel more comfortable speaking out if and when they require more assistance.

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Maintaining a positive workplace culture


The challenge: Creating a positive company culture is all about connecting people. Almost two-thirds of workers believe having friends at work makes their job more fun, and a quarter seeks help from coworkers for both work and personal difficulties. But how can you maintain such supporting relationships when individuals aren’t physically working together as much as they used to?


The solution: Creating little moments of employee involvement is critical to fostering a positive workplace culture. Employees who can develop tiny connections daily through coaching, mentorship, idea sharing, and co-working form stronger ties with their coworkers and achieve increased focus and productivity.



Hiring good talent and retention of good employees is one of the top problems that organizations face. What are some of the steps required to counter this growing problem?


Ans. The expansion of your firm is one of the finest signs of success. Growth not just in terms of income or number of clients, but also in terms of the number of personnel on staff. It stands to reason that as your company expands, you will require more team members to fulfill the added tasks.


Employee recruitment and retention are key issues that many organizations and HR departments face. Employees, for example, are increasingly demanding a more balanced work life and are unwilling to sacrifice everything for their careers. Lifelong work with a single organization is no longer the primary goal. Instead, they’d rather keep looking for the best compensation, perks, culture, and work environment.


Reviewing your HR and pay plan is always worthwhile, whether times are changing (such as a rapid shift to remote work) or you simply want to ensure your tactics are up to date. In this manner, you can be certain that you are doing everything possible to recruit and retain employees. The following strategies can help you tackle this challenge.

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  • Provider ongoing education and clear paths to advancement
  • Stick with remote work options
  • Be competitive with compensation packages
  • Deliver for your employees
  • Engage your workers
  • Put data (and AI) to work
  • Be prepared for turnover


At ASCENT, we have seen members not restricted to hiring from the same geography. The members are going forward and adding talent beyond the cities and countries. Geography is not becoming a challenge and hence a lot of members are also saving costs on office rentals. In fact, work travel is being reviewed to whether it is a requirement or a need.


At Ascent you are helping build a community of Entrepreneurs. How can entrepreneurs in the ASCENT community help each other in coping with the drastic evolvement of workplace dynamics?


Ans. We have 850 entrepreneurs in our over 74 Trust Groups. At the first level, Trust groups of 10-12 members become a safe space for members to share their challenges and cope with dynamic changes. These Trust groups are extremely diverse in nature with a balance of manufacturing as well as service industries, first-generation entrepreneurs v/s family-run businesses, and finally gender, age, and location diversity.

At the second level, we have knowledge sessions like Huddles and the Conclave which brings these entrepreneurs together for a day of knowledge-sharing and networking with access to some of the brightest minds in the country as speakers! We will be running the 7th edition of the conclave in November 2022 themed around #ThrivingonChange with speakers like Natarajan Chandrasekaran (TATA Group), Boman Irani (Actor), Ananth Narayanan (Mensa Brands), Ajit Mohan (Snap, Former Meta India), Namita Thapar (Emcure Pharmaceuticals), Aman Gupta (boAt), Peyush Bansal (LensKart), Vineeta Singh (Sugar Cosmetics), Meena Ganesh (Portea Medical), Ajith Pai (Delhivery), Nathan SV (Deloitte India), Ramji Raghavan (Agastya International Foundation). In the past 6 years, the conclave has witnessed over 120+ Speakers, Thought Leaders, Change Makers, and Innovators engaging with over 4000+ entrepreneurs as part of a day-long curated knowledge and motivational sessions


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