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Agency Leadership Decoded: MullenLowe Lintas Group’s Virat Tandon on building growth-inclined teams

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A growth mindset is always the goal amongst teams, but Virat Tandon, MullenLowe Lintas Group’s Group CEO, said that the path to it isn’t always smooth and straightforward. 

“Growth initiatives always create resistance from within as well as from the environment,” said Virat. But–this is the ultimate test for leaders – creating a resistance-proof environment towards growth.

 Virat says that while a growth-inclined culture is substantial for any company, creative firms which have a fast demand for innovation and ingenuity make it not just a need – but a crucial element within its team. 

A growth-driven firm thrives on inclusivity 

For Virat, the top management of creative group MullenLowe Lintas Group (MLLG), inclusivity and diversity are indispensable in the aim to maintain a team that is susceptible to change and continuous improvement. 

MLLG, in fact, has its own DEI Apex Council which is focused on the task of promoting gender equality and inclusion. Through its Apex Council, the agency plans to steer initiatives and changes aimed at shaping and embedding DEI in the DNA of the organisation. 

Virat said that the agency’s gender ratio for women at the leadership level stands at 31%, where few of its business functions carry the same. He said that what is transpiring at present is a result of none other than years of inclusive leadership, to which Virat aims to continue himself and in the future by giving birth to leaders that are passionate about growth and diversity.

‘Like a Boss Baby’ 

As a leader, Virat’s aim is to create more leaders with the right mindset, so that growth snowballs into even more innovative improvements within the team. This principle is at the heart of MLLG’s’ corporate initiatives such as one that’s called ‘Like a Boss’ and ‘Like a Boss Baby’. The two programs circle soft skills development and eye to develop in team members, early on, entrepreneurial and leadership skills. 

Aside from definitive programs, the agency makes sure that practice that puts a premium on expertise development and leadership building is deeply embedded in the agency. Virat talks about the importance of exposing team members to Indian and international festivals like SXSW and Cannes to provide intellectual and creative stimuli. Besides this, coaching is also made available for anyone who needs it to enable their growth journey at crucial junctures in their career. 

We have a culture of accountability not only towards numbers but also towards people and developing an attractive place to work 

Virat Tandon, Group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas Group

More interestingly, the agency introduced a referral program that would give 2X referral bonus to those that are able to successfully help in hiring women, PWD, and LGBTQ+ team members – in line with their DEI imperative and the goal of leading with accountability and intent.

For advertising, more than most other industries, DEI is not just a humanistic issue, it is a business case. At the heart of diversity and inclusion is getting diverse thinking, diverse perspectives, thereby inspiring imagination and impacting societal change

Virat Tandon, Group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas Group

Developing leaders comfortable with making a difference 

Virat shares that the agency’s DEI initiatives are bearing fruit where aspiring women leaders are becoming more emboldened to step up and take key roles within the organisation. Part of their mission in inclusivity and leadership building is appointing from within. 

Ultimately, Virat says the idea of leadership is not to develop more people like yourself but to foster people that are unique and comfortable in the difference they bring to the team. 

“Promoting a culture of learning and diverse growth journeys is good for any business, but crucial for a creative company like ours,” reiterated Virat. 

He added,“This might sound like a cliché and it is. But it’s difficult to practice. Unconscious bias is a real thing and leaders must proactively watch out for it.”

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