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  • sundaresan krishnaswami

Leadership lessons

We often agree with the adage that people quit their bosses and not companies. More often than not we tend to miss the other person's point of view. I came to realize this only when I stepped up as a Technical and People leader.

Let me share a few lessons I learned from my experience, from the mistakes I made while managing people, also insights I gathered from the people I managed directly or indirectly.

While I am back in a Technical Leadership position, my learning has helped me empathize with my upline in their struggles and to also resolve people's issues amicably.

Lesson 1 - Do not underestimate anyone:

People come from various backgrounds and skillsets. They may be recruited by you or assigned to your team. It does not matter who they are, what they have done. A leader has to have a one on one to understand her people's goals, identify their strengths, and align it with the company's goals.

Lesson 2 - Do no overestimate anyone:

Someone could join your team with a very good pedigree. They may have won several awards and be a shining star. What matters to you is how they perform in your team, how they mingle with their colleagues while also get things done. People change and may fall off the cliff and success can get to their head, they might become what one may call brilliant jerks. Identify these attributes and give personal feedback that can help the individual make a course correction if need be.

Lesson 3 - Health is wealth:

Manage your health, have a game. Walking or Jogging is good but it could get boring or monotonous. Having a game helps manage your health while having fun with your colleagues and friends.

Lesson 4 - Manage your emotions:

No two days are the same. Managing people is not easy. You will have to battle with biases, people problems that are unusual or new, convincing someone about their appraisal points, letting go of someone since that could be the best thing to do or handle resignations (for whatever reasons). In each circumstance balancing your emotion is critical for a leader. Becoming too emotional can cloud your judgment while having no emotion at all will stop you from empathizing with the other to work through the situation.

Lesson 5 - Trust, delegate, and follow-through:

Relationships are built on trust. A team is built on trust. Trust the members of your team. Allow them to function to the best of their levels. Delegate work and do not forget to follow through.

Lesson 6 - Be hands-on:

The best way to earn respect is when a leader showcases their skillset. Teams look up to their leader to help them when in need, also they will trust a leader to give objective feedback only when the leader herself is hands-on. A technical leader has to be hands-on, spend at least 25% of their time honing their craft while learning what is latest. If you look at some of the finest, highly rated Michelin star restaurants, the chef who also owns the restaurant are never in the forefront, but you will find them in the kitchen, cooking and inventing.

Lesson 7 - Mentoring:

Knowledge grows by sharing. Mentoring is the best way a leader can not only share their knowledge but also set their team to succeed. A mentor job is not helping someone with what you believe is right for them, but it is to help them with a framework with which they can set their goals, work through their goals and achieve them in a timeframe. A mentor is simply a guiding light that brings out the best in an individual.

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