Season 2     EPISODE 1
April 22, 2022

Learning to be a better, braver leader | Manjot Kaur

Do leaders need to always have their act together? Manjot Kaur tells us how she learnt about the importance of compassion and listening, after her authoritative leadership style left her team feeling stressed, tired, and unwilling to cooperate with her.

2 min read

Manjot Kaur is an independent consultant based in Mumbai. She works in healthcare, mainly on projects related to tuberculosis, HIV, and non-communicable diseases. Her areas of interest and expertise are public–private partnerships, community empowerment, and healthcare system strengthening. Manjot is a medical doctor by training and has an MBA in finance and strategy from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.


“My challenges were primarily related to my inadequate capacity to lead and motivate my team. I do have a tendency to be authoritative, and if I’m fully honest, even when I think I’m being collaborative, I’m actually being directive. Partly due to some expectations that the founder had created and partly due to my leadership style, the team and I ended up creating a me-vs-them structure very early in our working relationship. Our ambitions for the organisation were also dramatically misaligned. Most members of the team believed that we should assess and consolidate the existing work before expanding. I was convinced that consolidation and expansion could be done together—I wanted us to take our programme from three classrooms to at least 10 schools in my first year at the organisation. How else would I know that I had been successful?

My team struggled to keep up with my expectations; they grew increasingly stressed, tired, and, finally, sullen and uncooperative. My response was to become even more authoritative, until things reached an impasse. Ten months into the role, I was diagnosed with anxiety and was advised therapy. Eleven months into the role, I resigned. Two other people on my team resigned as well. We all claimed that we were resigning because we were leaving the city, but we all knew the truth was that we could not work together any more.”

Read more

  1. Read Manjot’s story on Failure Files.
  2. Read more failure stories on Failure Files.
  3. Check out some ideas and tools from Fail Forward to help your organisation take risks, learn, adapt, and fail intelligently.
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  5. Learn why talking about failure is crucial for growth.

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