Why are Young British Asians Seeking Leadership Roles in the Workplace?

Young British Asian men and women are ambitious and incredibly stubborn just like previous generations. Either they want to climb up the corporate ladder quickly (become a lawyer, chartered accountant or investment banker etc) or create their own corporate ladder (be an entrepreneur). This might sound like a strange concept but I compare personality types, especially in the workplace environment, with wild animals … let me explain.

Think of a typical corporate environment in Central London or any major city, whether that's a law firm or a financial services company. I guarantee you will find the following people:

The Fox

A clever, charming and manipulative man or woman, with a mischievous look in their eyes and a brilliant skill for networking.

The Tiger/Tigress

Picture a tall and athletic individual who is very energetic, ultra-competitive, self-centred, very passionate and frequently shows off but is deeply insecure and envious of the success of others.

The Horse

A tireless and obsessive worker with an infectious smile, and a man or woman of few words, highly respected because of their great work ethic.

The Lion/Lioness

The gentle giant who wears their heart on their sleeve. A sensitive, kind and empathetic individual, but only to those who show them respect.

The Dog

The extremely loyal and affectionate man or woman, who is uncoordinated and eager to please - just follows orders in the workplace.

The Peacock/Peahen

The man or woman who is graceful in their appearance and eccentric in their dress sense not to mention is obsessed with office gossip.

The Bull

The ‘office bully’ has a wild look in their eyes and is confrontational with other members of staff who they deem to be inferior to them.

The Wolf

The man or woman with piercing eyes is a great team player but is often underestimated and overlooked because they are introverted. However, they are hard-working, loyal and obsessed with achieving their goals.

I would say that I am the Wolf, which animal do you identify with?

All these personality types have the potential to be leaders in the workplace. However, the way young British Asians act in the workplace is often influenced by their childhood in the South Asian community - where they live in a constant state of comparison. Here are a few Young British Asians who have unique perspectives of what it means to be a leader.

Faareen Ali is an exceptional advocate in the legal world and a truly independent woman. At the age of 20, she began her career in the banking industry as a financial contractor, providing her services to leading banks and offering dispute resolution services through her Limited company which turned over £45,000 in the first financial year. She founded her own legal forum called Law Simplified which updates people with recent changes in UK Law and has a weekly blog showing Faareen’s journey to the Bar and beyond.

“A good leader is someone compassionate, respectful, positive and takes pride in serving people. I regard my service to my team as fundamental. A great leader must have a long term vision, work with integrity and be seeking to grow and learn from their team.  Women are equipped to become great leaders irrespective of their ethnicity. I would definitely urge them to put themselves forward for any leadership roles out there. Without striving for the role, it’s impossible for them to be in that position. A great leader should learn about the values and the vision at their workplace, strategise and plan ways of instilling that vision in their team with passion and clarity. Never think that you’re not good enough to be a leader”.

Chandni Sembhi is a young British Asian journalist who strives to shine a light on global issues. She currently creates outstanding social media content for several Channel 5 shows as well as having interviewed musicians and written several reviews on albums in popular magazines such as Kerrang Magazine.

“I don’t have too much experience in leadership in the workplace as I personally have not had a leadership role. As for what makes a good workplace leader, I’d definitely say someone who listens to employees and makes them feel heard by acting on their feedback or thoughts”.

Vishal Joshi is an incredible fine artist trained at the University of Arts (London) who discovered the discipline of drawing in a hospital bed whilst being treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 14 years old. Although he did not become a fighter pilot for the Royal Air Force, his artwork is crossing the oceans online incorporating the Indian culture resonating a feeling of the struggle and success of iconic figures such as Amitabh Bachchan.

“It is about being true to yourself and understanding what you believe in and use that to guide your motivation. You can’t lead people if you don’t believe in what you’re doing”.

A painting 'still' from a song about the unique bond of friendship; from the epic movie Sholay.
Yeh Dosti by Vishal Joshi

Navinjit Singh Dhillon has combined his extensive legal experience with marketing through business development roles and even working in a Legal Tech startup.

“For me personally, a good leader is someone who speaks authentically about his/her values, directions and priorities. They should also be able to resonate with the emotions of the surrounding people. A young British Asian who has ambitions to become a leader should think outside of the box. This involves creating a professional network at a young age, taking leadership opportunities at work and attending courses or seminars that would develop their perspective”.

Aaron Sahota is a man who took an unconventional path by completing his law degree then excelling within the financial sector, eventually becoming an assistant manager within Deloitte and is currently a dedicated Police Officer.

“As far as what makes a good leader, the answer is broad. However, in my opinion, leadership boils down to leading by example. I’ve always thought this is the most powerful form of leadership, and it encompasses many other things people would say - working hard, listening to others and inspiring your team. Treat others and your work the way you want others to treat you and their work, that’s the essence of leading by example. People will look at you and aspire to your example”.

Leadership is a skill that anyone can learn as long as they are willing to put their ego aside, take responsibility for their own actions and crucially take the time to understand each member of their team, making sure everyone feels valued and appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

Stay safe and stay strong.


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