The Power of Inclusive Leadership

Manimala, executive director for Global Workspace Solutions India, reflects on the importance of inclusive leadership when managing a diverse team.

August 7, 2023 3 Minute Read


Tell us about yourself and your role at CBRE.

I am an open person who loves challenges – I never say no to learning something new. In 2022, I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of 20 global women leaders from CBRE, worldwide, to participate in the IMPACT 2 - Global Executive Leadership Development Program. That was a huge learning opportunity for me.

This is my 19th year with CBRE. I head Client Sales and Solutions for the India LFM Local Facilities Management business. My role includes managing cross functional teams throughout the country and region that focus on client renewals and new business acquisition by aligning CBRE offerings to client needs.

How do you personally contribute to creating a more inclusive workplace culture at CBRE—particularly managing teams regionally?

I firmly believe that every Individual is different, having varied learning abilities and strengths. We need to do away with affinity bias and having a people-like-me mentality. As I lead a team of individuals with varied backgrounds from Millennials to Gen Z, they need to be heard differently and guided so they feel they're equal contributors.

Having an open environment to talk about unconscious biases, to try new things, fail well, and try again is what I encourage the team to do. In India, we have different cultures and languages—accepting them all and working together to make everyone realize their potential is what inclusion, at its best, is all about. 

What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you?

Diversity and inclusion are two interconnected concepts—but they are far from interchangeable. Diversity to me is how we are made up as an entity, having various backgrounds, races and upbringings.

Inclusion is about how well the different contributions, presence and perspectives of groups of people are valued and integrated into an environment. A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that makes everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the business, feel equally involved and supported in all areas of the workplace and respected for their contribution.

What makes you proud to be part of CBRE?

Although I am stepping into my 19th year at CBRE, it seems like yesterday. As a member of this organization, what makes me proud is that we all are valued and empowered to do what is best. The company fosters Inclusive leadership, trust, ethics and a culture where no teammate is left behind.

Speaking of inclusive leadership, who has inspired you the most? 

There are two women who have inspired me and made me what I am today. The first is my mother. She taught me that perseverance is the most important thing – whatever you do, always put forth your very best. She also taught me to be strong while being sensitive to others’ needs.

The second person who has inspired me is Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo. From her, I have learned that age doesn’t matter. She has also struggled and sacrificed as a woman and stood out. I really resonate with something she once said – “I wouldn't ask anyone to do something which I won't do myself.”

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