Stalwarts 2022

Education Stalwarts 2022 | Shailesh Dalmia, Hon. Secretary of Niranjanlal Dalmia Educational Society | Leaders in Education

While running an organization, it is always ‘We’ and not ‘I’. While every organization has leaders, they are nothing without another set of leaders and followers. I have implemented a participative approach to management in my institution, wherein I actively involve everyone in the decision-making process. I encourage my entire team to participate and I make sure to include all of their viewpoints. By doing so, a sense of ownership is developed in each employee as we all arrive at a decision together. When you inculcate ownership, the onus of the execution of the particular task is also on that person, and the results are sure to be positive.

A participative approach is vital and an extremely effective form of leadership. It is very easy to simply dictate instructions to employees, but at the end of the day it is important for the leader to realize that there are smarter people besides him/her who can add value to the organization.

In order to create leaders, it is first critical to empower them. For this, we need to provide opportunities, build confidence in them, trust them and engage the entire team towards the vision. Without every team member being focused on a common vision, they would all be working in different directions.

Empowering the team, giving them the freedom and flexibility to operate, and maintaining transparency in the organization is what I always strive for. I can proudly say we have a very fair management. We believe in listening to our staff members and caring for them, in addition to being approachable at all times. Empowerment at our institution is a continuous process that doesn’t end with me empowering my staff; I make sure to tell them to empower the team below them as well. Giving the staff an opportunity to perform is vital. Needless to say, they are bound to make mistakes, but it is a leader’s responsibility to back them up.

In the context of supporting my team, I’d like to cite the example of the crisis we faced during the pandemic. With the unprecedented outbreak of the Covid-19 virus causing everyone to grapple in multiple aspects of their lives, we at N. L. Dalmia High School made sure to first empathize with our faculty and staff. At a time where people were losing their jobs and facing drastic salary cuts or not receiving their salaries on time, we saw to it that each and every team member at our campus was paid their salary on time. There were absolutely no salary deductions and not a single employee was terminated from the school. While we faced certain difficulties such as the school fees not being paid on time by parents, we ensured that our staff members did not have to bear the brunt.

While there is always one person who is recognized as the face of a brand, at our school, we ensure that our employees are constantly engaged in all management decisions. When your employees are engaged and you’ve built confidence and trust in them, they invariably exhibit a lot of passion and values towards their job. And so, when they interact with the community, they communicate the spirit of the brand and the contentment is reflected on their face.

Brands are not built overnight; it takes years for them to trickle down; but over a period of time, people start to understand what you stand for. The way you exhibit your values is something people will definitely know you for.

It is imperative for a school Principal and management team to provide teachers with the freedom to exhibit their skills and operate freely. Their efforts must be acknowledged and there has to be an efficient reward and recognition scheme. This goes a long way in motivating teachers to perform to the best of their abilities.

An effective leader must be completely fair and unbiased towards all the employees in the organization, regardless of the position and experience they hold. I’ve encountered a situation wherein one of the senior management members of the school was unjust towards one of the junior staff members, and resorted to using inappropriate language while dealing with them. The matter was scaled up and brought to me. After listening to the viewpoints of both parties and analyzing the situation, I asked the senior management member to leave. This decision resulted in him being completely shocked as he thought holding a high profile, impressive qualifications, and a good amount of experience in the education fraternity would mean his position in the organization was secure and that the junior staff member would be asked to leave instead of him. But in this situation, I stood by my values and made it clear that such behaviour would be unacceptable from anyone, irrespective of the position they hold.

Taking such a call before your team establishes faith in the management as they realize nothing wrong will be tolerated and that any decision taken would be fair and completely free of bias.

A ‘never give up attitude’ is indeed what makes a leader strong. It is important to always think positive. Even in times of adversity, you need to believe that things will eventually turn out right. You need to give your very best in every situation. I strongly believe that if you have given your best, you must have no regrets even if you do not succeed in your task. It is also important to realize that while you’re striving to be positive, those vibes tend to be visible on your face. This would motivate your team to work towards staying calm and positive at all times.

My message to the upcoming professionals in the field of education would be – Firstly, you need to build a great team and then empower them. You need to trust them and understand that in their quest for leadership, building the brand and making the institution a stalwart, they are sure to make mistakes along the way. But, as a leader, it is important for you to back them up and assure them of having your support, come what may.

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