For Jasleen Kohli, MD & CEO, Go Digit General Insurance, it’s important to create an environment that integrates inter-generational teams. She believes that while it’s important to acknowledge the wisdom experience brings, it’s equally important for those inexperienced to be curious and ask questions – this reduces the danger of complacency in knowledge building and learning.
Kohli, 42, who is heading the insurance company since April, has been with the company since 2017. Before this, she has worked with Allianz Technology and Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance.
Bengaluru-based Kohli, speaks with Lounge about her style of mentoring and her approach to tackling challenges.
Who do you consider your mentor and why?
I have multiple mentors in the form of my past managers and colleagues. They have shaped the vision I have as the leader for Digit today, which is to create a culture of positive interdependence to foster growth by being transparent with one another.
One major insight you worked on with your mentor's guidance?
When you are building a company with a mix of veterans from the core industry — insurance in our case — and young talent from newer upcoming industries, there is always a culture-setting challenge. One may say, “there is no hierarchy”, but in a room full of veterans, how will a young person from outside the industry put forward a fresh perspective?
This is where the role of a leader becomes important in creating an environment of “genuine curiosity”, which appreciates people who have more experience and knowledge but encourages questioning and new ideas from the new crop. This is something I have learnt from my past mentors.
How do you mentor your colleagues at work?
I like listening to people and their perspective on things. To me, being a mentor is about helping my team realise their potential and working with them to turn their ideas into reality. In doing this, I often resort to questions because most times, asking the right questions automatically leads to solutions. When you are surrounded by bright talent, you cannot hold on to the “mentor” or “leader” persona for too long. It’s important to be open and encourage healthy exchange of ideas to ensure growth.
This approach has also helped me grow as an individual because it has opened my mind in a way that I don’t look at things as just black or white anymore. Of course, when required, I do advice colleagues on necessary course correction, but to be honest, (there haven't been too many) such instances.
What's your morning schedule like?
I wake up at 6.30 am and have a hot cup of coffee. I catch up on news, followed by a rundown of my schedule for the day, before I am all set to leave for work at around 9 am. I used to spend some time every day on working out but that has changed since the pandemic. I really want to get back to it.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
To take it one day at a time. Yes, for some things you must plan a few days in advance but in my experience, plans change, and unexpected things happen all the time. So, I have learnt to deal with challenges one day at a time. If I know an issue is going to come up say, tomorrow or day after, I just tell myself, “it’s tomorrow-Jasleen’s problem” and so far, this has worked quite well. It has helped me prioritize things better and perhaps, deal with problems in a more structured manner.
What are some productivity hacks or principles that you follow?
I have always believed in trusting my team and delegating work instead of doubting people’s capabilities and taking on all the work by myself. I think, this has held me and my team in good stead.
How do you unwind?
I have a pet, who I adore and love spending time with. During my free time, I read and catching up with my friends and family.
Any book/podcast you would recommend about mentorship and workplace growth?
It’s Your Ship by D. Michael Abrashoff is an excellent book with impactful tips on improving one’s leadership skills. The biggest takeaway for me was to lead by example, and be the leader that I would feel confident following. It also talks about building integrity through an interesting test that leaders can adopt to understand whether they are on the right track or not. It’s a must-read for all individuals progressing towards leadership roles.
What's the best investment you have made on yourself?
I have always acknowledged the need for upskilling and going beyond what I know to broaden my horizon. I have tried to do this consistently along my professional journey.
Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders and creative individuals who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.