During an Insight Session at TSE 2022 titled “Why It’s Critical to Lead With Your Authentic Self in This New World,” Jinali Desai, vice president, bundled solutions, Walmart (right), joined a panel discussion including female healthcare leaders to share why it is essential today for executives to lead with authenticity professionally, personally, and within their communities.
Ms. Desai said, “When you are going through a transformation there is going to be a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty, and you are 100% guaranteed failure, and it is really important to create trust. That is where psychological safety comes from.”
She added that “to create trust, you have to allow folds to bring themselves to work.” She remarked that effective leaders must listen to opinions, “even though you may not believe in them, because guess what, we don’t have an answer in transformation. It is called a transformation because there are more unknowns than knowns in those situations.”
Authenticity is key, Ms. Desai emphasized. “As a leader you have to be humble enough to recognize that you don’t have all the answers. Therefore, you have to listen and then you have to be able to communicate honestly about how you feel about the situation. When you fail, we’re human, we are going to be disappointed, we’re going to be angry. We are going have a lot of emotion…from happiness to sadness to anger,” she said.
“In those situations, as a leader, you have to create that authentic culture within your team, you have to be open and willing to accept what your limitations are, because that creates curiosity within your team when you talk about what you know and don’t know the team participates in being curious and striving.”
In addition, Ms. Desai said, vulnerability is important. “Secondly you have to be vulnerable, which allows people bring their whole selves and talk about what they are feeling. They may be excited, disappointed, or don’t feel that they can’t achieve it. It allows them to bring all of those things. Having a high-performing team is really key to a transformation. It is up to you as a leader to create that culture of trust,” she said.
“At Walmart,” she said, “we have been going through a lot of different business model changes as we continue to progress through healthcare. One of the recent opportunities that I had in recent years was to launch the concept of Walmart Health, a supercenter of healthcare. I had the opportunity to be on the C-team that launched that concept and took it from idea to reality. I will tell you that when we got the board approval to do that, we knew less than 2% of what we knew to be true to get that launched in 9 months,” she acknowledged. “It really took being wonderful about being open about what we did not know because we were building a plane as we were flying it.”
Ms. Desai stressed that “it takes practice as a leader; authenticity is not something that you are born with. It is all about practicing and looking for situations to continue practicing being authentic and learning more about yourself in every uncomfortable situation you are in.”
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