Tell us about yourself.
I have been part of Conscious Capitalism led by people such as Raj Sisodia and John Mackey since 2010 and started my leadership consultancy Roots and Wings in 2004, with my husband, Vijay Bhat. I had reached a point in my corporate career where I began to think what is my purpose? Am I making a difference? I took up the study of Vedanta (Indian wisdom) and yoga and became a practitioner of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
Tell us more about your book, Shakti Leadership: Embracing Feminine and Masculine Power in Business.
I knew instinctively my next book had to be about leadership and personal growth. Health and growth are like inhale and exhale. Coming into wellbeing requires “taking the lead” and coming into your own full power. I realised I had given my power away; I woke up to my unconscious disempowerment as a woman. Too many people, men and women alike, have bought into a notion of leadership that exclusively emphasises traditionally “masculine” qualities: hierarchical, militaristic, win-at-all-costs.
Who is it for and what inspired you to write it? Human beings and the universe are evolving in a certain direction; there is a distinct trajectory that can be discerned. There is an evident purpose to this process; it is not all based on random mutations. If we can flow into that trajectory and be part of it, rather than be at cross-purposes with it, we can have access to extraordinary power. There is a beautiful reinforcing pattern there: the more you are on purpose, the more power you get to meet your purpose. It is similar to the idea of being “in flow.”
What is Shakti?
Shakti works with the core principle of qi (pronounced chi), not just as a philosophy but also its power. The compelling difference in the yogic tradition is that Shakti is not an impersonal, inanimate force; it is intelligent and conscious. You can enter into relationship with it.
Why do you consider Shakti an infinite source?
Unlike the ego, which can be broken down, no one can take Shakti-based power away from you. You may feel that your power derives from your position. If you are the CEO today, you are vested with privilege and power, but if you were not CEO tomorrow, who would you be? Would people still respect you, look up to you, follow you? Can you hold your sense of self, and can you help bring about meaningful outcomes from that true source rather than from the position vested in you?
In your opinion what is true greatness?
Courage to attempt to go past your comfort zone and keep going. Surrendering to that greater power, Shakti.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Take your own medicine (“Be the change”)
What’s the next challenge for leaders?
High levels of fear and stress characterise most businesses; conscious businesses are built on love and care. Recent years have brought a dawning realisation that we need to rethink the foundational bases of capitalism, starting with the idea that it is solely rooted in the pursuit of narrowly construed and material self-interest. Human beings have multiple primal drives, including the need to survive and the need to care. Love and work define what it means to be human. The emerging Conscious Capitalism philosophy is about blending the two.
It sounds like hard work…
Becoming a conscious leader requires a transformational journey. You do not become a conscious leader just by getting behavioural skill training in “what leaders do.” Deeper, foundational shifts are required to connect you to new and true bases of consciousness and power.
What’s next for you?
Gathering and building a global network of Shakti-based leaders and entrepreneurs (Shaktipreneurs) who hold up and hold steady the foundations of a peaceful planet.