Yes, it is true that leaders are born – born out of the experiences that they have in life’s journey. Each experience leaves an individual with significant learning and thereby helps one strengthen one’s leadership potential.
While volunteering their time with organizations working for the benefit of community, SOIL students have 3 kinds of experiences.
One, a dekho into the challenging lives of people living in urban slums or rural areas.
Two, the efforts that the NGO leadership makes to impact these lives while facing significant resource constraints.
Three, the experience of working with a diverse team of fellow students for a common cause.
The first experience helps them appreciate the real Bharat and understand problems that our country faces at a grass root level. It exposes them, as future leaders, to situations that they don’t necessarily have the tools or solutions for. It shakes them out of their comfort zone and forces them to think and then innovate. I still remember one student mentioning that ‘I always knew that India had problems, what I have learnt through this experience is that there are people working on solutions as well!’
The second experience helps them recognize that while as a community we grapple with several issues in areas of education, health, livelihood, governance etc., but behind it all, there are brave men and women, men and women of high intelligence, passion, commitment and zeal who are working for a better tomorrow. It may take decades for change to take place, but the constant drive of our partners demonstrates that leadership is all about taking ownership and initiative. It is about ‘not quitting’!
And finally, working together as a team – across the 3 programs (BLP, MLP and HRLP) encourages peer learning and whole systems thinking. This is an opportunity for a BLP student with 5 years experience to benefit from the fresh thinking of an MLP student without any industry exposure; for an MLP student to understand the perspective of his HR colleague; for the HR student to wear the business hat! Working together cohesively ensures that the team delivers solutions that are well thought through from all angles and it also prepares them for their careers going forward!
The Social Innovation Program at SOIL is rightly called SIP, for it also stands for the Self Improvement Program! It gives each individual a chance to make a difference to other lives while impacting their own.
IIM Bangalore Alumnus
Asst. Vice President – School of Inspired Leadership