Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Learning Conscientious Leadeship with the School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL)

Just today I chanced upon an article titled "Does Evolution lead to Human Extinction?". One sentence that stood out to me was:

"I thought long and hard about this philosophical quandary and at first my heart settled on the notion that people who are connected to the sublime energy that is our surroundings and the Universe; people with mindfulness, compassion and a giving nature would evolve to the next level in our human story – leaving behind those that live through greed, fear and ego to eventually wither away."




It took me back in time to last week when I was on a tour through the campus of School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL). The words "compassion", "mindfulness", and "a giving nature" had featured prominently in Mr Anil Sachdev's discussion with us. Mr Sachdev, the founder of Soil, spoke about the need to sculpt leaders who not only are brilliant managers, but are also better human beings.




I had been thinking on the same lines for the past few days. Spiritual growth, values, and the concept of karm were at one time in time etched deep into the Indian education as well as social system. However, with passing time, we have gradually brushed all that aside and spirituality has come to be synonymous with mundane religious rituals, and most of the times we aren't even aware why we are doing what we are doing. In the race to keep ahead in terms of scientific development, humans have all but forgotten about spiritual advancement. World would have been a completely different place had we maintained a balance between the two.

As Mr Sachdev shared the vision of SOIL, I realized that I am definitely not alone in my musings about the importance of spiritual growth. There are other people thinking about it too, people who are in a much powerful position than me to make a real difference. SOIL India offers business management courses that attempt to go back to our roots, while also imparting the skills required for successful business management. The institute itself has taken a stand against corruption right from the time it started rooting itself in the Indian soil. Instead of accreditation, the institution banks upon its solid faculty and the faith it commands from several industry giants such as Tata Steel, Infosys, Mahindra and Mahindra, Johnson & Johnson, MAX India, Maruti Suzuki, Hidustan Unilever, Aditya Birla Group and many others. The lack of accreditation doesn't worry their students. A couple of girls we walked into during our tour demonstrated immense patience while answering our numerous queries and were confident that with the skills and experience the curriculum is focusing on and the fact that 90% of the placements happen during the campus visits by several industry giants. 


For an institution with such an inclusive vision, the fees of Rs 12.5 Lakhs for its year-long business management program kind of came as a jolt to me. I was concerned that in spite of the high ROI, there may be many deserving candidates who may not be able to afford this initial cost. "Do you offer scholarships?" I asked Mr Sachdev, and he confirmed that they do. The most important criteria to get selected as a student or staff or faculty is that you should have the required IQ and EQ, and if you do, there are definitely ways to be able to support your education.


What I loved about the institution is that their students as well as their staff members have to clear a test called Calipers before they can be taken on board. The test not only measures your knowledge and skills, but also tries to gauge if you have the ability to imbibe their three pillars "Character, Competence, and Enthusiasm". For them character means "Mindfulness, Ethics, Compassion, Sustainability, and Diversity."


A typical day at SOIL starts with a 15-minute long "Morning Circle" where the employees as well as the faculty focus their energies on starting the day with a positive note. At times they choose to acknowledge each other, at times they just sit in silence and let their minds rest. The Morning Circle concludes with everyone standing up to the National Anthem, which I think is the strongest form of prayer. If all of us focus on our country's scientific and spiritual growth, our combined momentum can cause miracles. It can transform the world.

It was a pleasure to visit the institution and to interact with Mr Sachdev, the staff, and the students. I wish them the best in their endeavors and hope that they manage to achieve all that they have set out for.
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