Dr Sankalp Chaturvedi
Five minutes with Dr Sankalp Chaturvedi, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Leadership
1. Tell us about your research in a nutshell
I specialise in Organisational Behaviour and Leadership. The central focus of my research is on understanding psychological dynamics of leadership behaviour and its implications on other employees/ followers’ behaviours. This is something that’s fascinating to me because leaders can affect real change in people and start social movements. They have an integral role to play in developing followers and future change agents. I have studied this dynamic in several ways.
I'm looking at which aspects of leadership come naturally and which we can nurture over time."
First, I am working on how genetics and our environment impact on leadership behaviour development. That is looking at which aspects of leadership come naturally and which we can nurture over time. I study this in a number of different contexts and through a number of different processes. For example, I am looking at SME’s and start-up environments where a lack of concrete leadership skills can become a problem as ideas are usually given precedence over people, often unconsciously.
Second, I study Mindfulness, which has recently become a very popular topic. I have studied this for the past 10 years and, while it seems obvious that attention on ourselves and awareness of the world around us makes us better leaders, in practice people don’t know how to be mindful because they are constantly thinking about the past, present and future all at the same time, which complicates things.
Another stream of research I’m involved in is something we call Societal Stigma. Stigmas exist and people agree stereotypes are bad and yet they are still perpetuated. We are trying to study why this happens across a lot of different domains and to see how people can do better.
The last major area I’m involved in is Organizational Citizenship Behaviour, which is where employees go above and beyond the call of duty. I try and study the events when employees are motivated to spontaneously contribute more than they are required to and, if people are withholding those actions, why they are being withheld.
By understanding and accessing all these behaviours we can begin to learn how to nurture the positive aspects and make them more widespread through leadership skills and impacting organisations.
2. What impact could your research have for our industry partners?
The Gandhi Centre for Inclusive Innovation, of which I am Director, is also very much focused on getting ideas that are born in the university ecosystem transformed into practical and living projects that have a large impact on society. "
People are extremely unpredictable – probably the most unpredictable elements in the world and therefore extremely complex. With machines you know how they work and can expect a degree of certainty in their output but this is not the case with people. Thankfully there are some structured patterns of intervention that we as researchers can apply to help and this is where my research comes into its own.
The Gandhi Centre for Inclusive Innovation, of which I am Director, is also very much focused on getting ideas that are born in the university ecosystem transformed into practical and living projects that have a large impact on society. We are doing this through a number of initiatives such as Ideas2Impact (i2i) and by partnering with companies and NGOs who may already have some expertise in target fields and can provide support with implementation in the field. We think it’s important for the outside world to get connected to the students because they are the ones who will have the next big idea.
3. Who/what sectors would be interested in hearing more about your research?
Leadership research actually affects almost everyone in industry or society. Name a sector and it’s useful.
The Centre’s work would really be of most interest to companies who are looking for an authentic conversion platform through which to carry out their Corporate Social Responsibility work.