The Millennial Leadership Series : Core of Leadership transformation

The only way to change someone’s mind is to connect with them from the heart.”

– Rasheed Ogunlaru, Life Coach & Speaker



Recently I had the opportunity to be a Master Mentor to a set of alumni mentors of a premier business school as part of its ambitious initiative to offer a Career Support Program for its graduating students.  As the master mentor, my role was really about ensuring the effectiveness of the mentoring process.

The alumni mentors had graduated from the same school few years back and were shaping up as young business leaders in the industry.

In one of my interactions, an alumni mentor mentioned that inspite of his efforts, he sensed a lack of openness and desire to engage from some of the students. I could sense his frustration of seeing his mentoring efforts becoming unproductive.

I asked, “What shows up when you think of your own leading ability?”

“Well, when I am able to influence and get things done”, he answered.

“… and when you see that happening, what behaviours do you display?” I continued.

Reflecting a bit, the mentor replied, “Well I believe I encourage people to take on new initiatives.”

I could sense the disparity between what the mentor believed he was committed to and the outcome that he was achieving. I avoided saying so.

Changing the track somewhat, I then asked, “What do you think gets in the way when you try to support others to take on new challenges?”

The alumni mentor responded almost immediately, “Well I think I need to be more empathetic and less of a stickler to holding people accountable.”

I thanked him for this great insight.


As a Leader, Manager or Supervisor dealing with teams tasked to produce outcomes, we get conditioned to link results to all that is happening outside us. So tracking people, their performance and holding them accountable comes naturally to us. Very seldom do we look inside our own selves to determine whether the way we speak, listen and act could have a bearing on our team member’s performance. This is where the power of empathy steps in.

In the disruptive world that we live in, where past performance has less and less traction for the future, Leaders need to anchor more within, with empathy at the core of growth and transformation.

  • What might you do today to focus on building trust through empathy?
  • How could you be a ‘success enabler’ of people by proactively removing barriers out of their way?
  • How could you be a sounding board for people to come to, so that you could put them in a position to succeed?

In Learning

Shakti Ghosal


Author: Shakti Ghosal

* A PCC Credentialed Executive Coach mentor and trainer for leaders & performance. * A qualified engineer and a PGDM (Faculty Gold medalist) from IIM Bangalore. * Four decades of industry experience spanning Engineering, Maintenance, Projects, Consumer durables, Supply Chains, Aviation and Tourism. * Top level management positions to drive business development, strategy, alliances all around the globe. * A visiting faculty at the IIMs. *A passion to envision trends & disseminate Leadership incubation globally. , * . +91 - 9051787576

17 thoughts on “The Millennial Leadership Series : Core of Leadership transformation”

  1. Well said! I’ve been thinking about leadership and incorporating that into some stories about two tribes with very different values and ideas about leadership. The set-up is that the leader of one of the (mythical) tribes (the Veritas) seeks an eventual successor so she devises a series of trials that mainly test empathy. Comments welcome! – John


    1. Thank you Abbie, I am indeed delighted to know that my blog has added to your development.

      While we are apt to learn from our readings, it is another matter to hard wire those learnings into our own-selves. Without the hard-wiring, we tend not to apply our learning to real life situations. How do you propose to do that?

      Best wishes and happy new year.

      Shakti Ghosal

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great insight,
    I agree that empathy is a vital characteristic of any leader!
    I have thought long about whether or not empathy can be learned.

    Not everyone can naturally understand what others are experiencing and this will affect their ability to influence and lead. So how do you learn to empathize?

    The best answer I have come up with is to look after yourself first. We as humans are only able to empathize with ourselves when we are not in good health, or if we have an insecurity that makes us feel sorry for ourselves.

    I believe that when we start working on our own weaknesses, we can soon start extending our empathy and prosperity to others!



    1. Hi Themmissdru,

      That indeed is a powerful thought and comment. Indeed an effective way to internalise empathy is to start the practice of being empathetic to one’s own self. The best place to start this is when one is faced with a crucible experience, an intense, thought demanding and sometimes life altering situation which all of us are faced with at some time or the other. At such times, one needs to wear the observer mantle and observe in an unattached way one’s own thoughts, reactions and responses.

      Appreciate your taking the time here.

      Shakti Ghosal

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The importance of empathy to gain access to and refine minds is very well highlighted here. It is the key to the process of mentoring. Empathy ranks right below compassion. The Mahabharata highlights compassion through the character of Yudhisthira in the statement, ‘Anrsamsyam Paro
    Dharma’, meaning compassion is the greatest dharma. As compassion is to Dharma or the order that sustains the universe, so is empathy to mentoring. Nice connecting with you, Sakthi, after a long while.


    1. Hi Rajagopal,

      The pleasure remains mine to connect with you after a while.

      It is interesting when you say that Empathy ranks below compassion. To me the access to Empathy, to intuitively step into the other person’s stockings and then make try and make sense of a situation, is through compassion, On the flip side heightened compassion arises from an empathetic mindset.. So yes, I do see a great linkage between these qualities.

      Thank you for your presence here today, I appreciate.




  4. Try to get to the heart of some terrorist to change his mind, just have a sit down with tea and biscuits and meditate, that will make peace on earth.
    That was a bit off, sorry.
    I don´t think you need to change someone´s mind, we need diversity of opinions. Plus changing someones mind is in my life experience almost impossible, plus the heart and mind are completely seperate, your heart can say one thing and then your rational mind will stop whatever your heart says. What you should do is respect the other point of view even if you don´t agree with it.


    1. Hi CharlyPriest,

      At the outset I appreciate your taking the time to visit and comment.

      I suppose what Rasheed Ogunlaru means is that access to minds can be facilitated through the hearts. That of course does not imply that a desirable change can be guaranteed always. And your example of it not working in the case of terrorists may well be correct.

      But as I say this, I can think of another example. Mahatma Gandhi could unite a politically fractious and poverty stricken India to shake of the wealth sapping and divisive colonial rule of the British. He did it using the hitherto unheard idea of "Non- Violence". He preached the wisdom of turning the other cheek to be slapped when your tormentor slaps you on one cheek. And he did succeed against the world Super power of those days.

      Gandhi’s strategy was based on heightened compassion and empathy even for his tormentors.

      However the import of my post was to merely explore the impact of empathy on Leadership in the context of organisations and not really get into the political space 🙂


      Shakti Ghosal


      1. Reading your comment, I have to say that you did change my mind, I´m always open minded to everything(most everything) I do appreciate you to enlighten my somewhat 2 neurons that I have. It was a great comment and I appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

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