Shaheen Mistri is the founder and CEO of Teach For India, an education-focused nonprofit that gets graduates and young professionals to teach children from marginalised communities. Previously, Shaheen founded and led another education nonprofit, the Akanksha Foundation for close to two decades. Shaheen has built a strong brand for both organisations, one that is recognised beyond the social sector.

In this interview with IDR, Shaheen discusses the importance of communicating your vision and learning how to tell stories, and highlights some of the challenges she has faced over the years.

Shaheen Mistri:

I’d like to start by saying that by heart and nature, I’m a teacher. That’s what I most closely identify with and that’s where a lot of my own leadership style and ideas on leadership have come from. What it takes to be a great teacher in the classroom, and what it takes to be a great leader in an organisation are actually one and the same thing.

So, whether it’s a challenging classroom I want to turn around, or an organisation I want to build, the first and most important thing is having a vision and strategy. It is important to have a vision that is really ambitious and really important to you, where you see yourself being able to potentially spend not just one lifetime, but multiple lifetimes in pursuit of that vision.

And this has to happen not just at the vision statement level, but through finding a way to continuously connect people and their day-to-day actions back to that purpose. So, whether I’m on the technology team working on the website, or whether I’m a fellow in the classroom, how does my work tie into the vision of the organisation?

Read the full article about lessons from a teacher on building an organization with Shaheen Mistri at India Development Review (IDR).