Change Leader Bindi Doshi Tatla speaks with us about leadership development and emotional intelligence

Change Leader, Bindi Doshi Tatla.

Bindi Doshi Tatla is an award-winning instructional designer and facilitator with two decades of experience in a variety of contexts, such as human resources, finance, service delivery, management, and interpersonal relations. Bindi is a co-founder and principal consultant with Evoke Facilitation & Consulting , and she is an EITC Change Leader. We caught up to her and asked her about leadership and emotional intelligence.

Which areas of the EQ model are you a champion at?

Definitely Emotional Expression and Self-Awareness. I’ve always been good at expressing my emotions but I wasn’t always attuned to what they were truly tied to. And this could be challenging depending on the particular situation.

But my participation and certification in EQ-i 2.0, followed by further work in this realm, has allowed me to connect with myself on a much deeper level than I ever have before. As a result, I’ve become exponentially better at giving myself the time and space to stop, stand back and ask myself what’s going on for me.

What’s causing these emotions to surface? Is it really the situation in front of me or is there something else triggering this? It seems like such a simple thing but, I assure you, the first 40 years of my life were not always so simple – and I think that was a direct result of not knowing or trusting myself the way I do now. 

What’s your definition of a leader?

I could probably cite pages of leadership traits but, for me, it’s a pretty short answer. As humans, more than anything, we want to be seen. We want to be known. We want to be understood. I believe that to be a true leader is to constantly seek to do those things for the people around us. Whether we are working alongside them, facilitating them, are employed by them or are in a position where they are in our charge, a leader ensures people feel seen and feel heard. A leader ensures people genuinely feel that their voices matter. And here’s the crux – it’s not just lip service. A leader has a genuine curiosity, desire to understand and willingness to change directions and try another approach. 

How are you living out what it means to be a leader?

Here are some of the things I do that I think are commensurate with what it means to be a leader… I am constantly seeking to develop myself both personally and professionally. I am constantly seeking to evolve my practice. I strive to be honest with myself about my own shortcomings and seek ways to be better.

There’s this subconscious narrative around what leadership looks like – the person who, through all their blood, sweat and tears has finally reached the top of the proverbial mountain and has no more work to do. But to live out what it really means to be a leader is to come from a place of continuous improvement and continuous learning. And that’s what I try to do. And as I say that, I realize it’s also the basis for my work. Training seasoned facilitators how to step off the podium and put their participants at the centre; helping experienced leaders consider the impacts of their practices; and helping organizations rise to the challenge of creating an improved culture of trust and inclusivity. It’s difficult work and I’m continuously learning as I go. And I’m grateful for that. 

Who is your favorite leader and why?

The more I thought about the traits I feel exceptional leaders possess, the more I thought about my father. Growing up, I remember everyone who knew him saw him as a leader. A leader in his business, a leader in the community, a leader amongst family and friends. He was respected, admired and people always listened when he spoke. But I never really understood why. We rarely had the opportunity to sit down and talk. Partly because my older sister filled this space discussing politics, religion or philosophy with him while I, being significantly younger, didn’t feel I had anything valuable to say that would interest him.

One day we were driving home from somewhere, just the two of us, and he decided we should stop for lunch. I was 13 years old and had never been one-on-one with him in a focused way over an extended period. I had no idea what we’d talk about.  We sat there in what I felt was unbearable silence eating our soup and sandwich combos and then, out of nowhere, he started to ask me about me. About what I would do if I could do anything. Realizing that willing myself to teleport anywhere but that deli on that fateful afternoon wasn’t going to work, my 13 year old self bit the bullet and finally blurted out the truth – I wanted to be an ACTOR (awkward silence). I was certain he was going to buy me the first ticket to a rural village in India to get my head on straight. But instead, after what seemed like hours, he said “tell me more about that”. I was skeptical at first (was he buying time until he could get to the travel agent?) but his gentle nudges helped me share my teenage excitement and career aspirations and research and audition opportunities and the paperwork that had been in my room for weeks that needed his signature for me to go to a school that would help me pursue my dream. 

An hour later after I finally stopped talking, he quietly paid the bill and we left. In the car, my nervousness returned. What in the world possessed me to unload all that? What would I need to do to back-peddle in the hopes he’d see me the way he saw my brilliant, down-to-earth, sister? I’ll never forget when he interrupted me mid thought and said, “when we get home, bring me the papers to sign. And tell me what else I can do to help you get to your next step”.

This is what leadership looks like to me. Putting judgement aside. Seeking to understand. Genuinely listening. And doing everything in your power to lift others up and help them develop – even if it goes against what you think their path should look like.  Looking back, it is infinitely clear why people had so much respect and admiration for my father. And while I never got a chance to tell him, I hope he knows how much it meant to me to have lunch with him that day and tell him about my big dreams. (Spoiler alert: I never became an actor but, if I had, I know Dad would have been front-row-centre every single time). 

How has the EQ-i 2.0 certification training impacted your professional life?

The EQ-i 2.0 certification training has had a tremendous impact on all aspects of my life. It not only served as a catalyst for changing how I relate to myself but it also changed how I relate to and connect with others. It’s changed the way I read the room, the way I take the pulse of a given situation, the way I engage my audience. And above all, it’s helped me come from a place of curiosity when I respond to the actions and reactions of others.  

In addition, it’s helped me become more aware of my strengths which has resulted in knowing what I can lean into whenever I’m feeling uncertain. This alone has been life-changing. 

What’s your superpower or secret skill?

My ability to remain funny and functional in the face of overwhelming chaos ;)

ALSO (and on a more serious note) I would say it’s my ability to connect with people and make people FEEL connected – I think I have a knack for making people feel at ease and as a result, they are willing to let their guard down and be exactly who they are. And I love that because people should be able to be their authentic selves. Without fear or judgement. I think that’s what we all want. 

More about Bindi Doshi Tatla

Find Bindi on LinkedIn, or at Evoke Facilitation & Consultation.

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