Do you know what is similar between leaders and technology? Their ability to adapt, evolve and create impact. The question is, is the path of evolution scripted, or does it unravel with the flow? As a global leader collaborating with a geographically diverse, cross-functional team in a constantly changing industry, there isn’t any roadmap or rulebook to follow. However, I had the privilege to develop a leadership style that draws upon my core principles, learning from and observing others and constantly working towards achieving common goals.
Why I choose to be a ‘learning leader’
My leadership style in a career spanning over two decades borrows from the actions of multiple capable leaders. Observing them taught me that continuous learning and the ability to deal with ambiguity were the two things I needed to master beyond hard skills to get the job done. I understood I had to develop a leadership style that would adapt to the fast-paced and every-changing world.
As a leader, my mantra is to learn from everywhere, anywhere, and everyone. It has helped in open and thought-provoking discussions with the team and peers. It has helped us in developing defensible solutions through discourse and debates. Experience has taught me that patient listening and careful problem deconstruction equips the team to work and learn effectively.
When aspiring leaders ask what helped me develop my style of leadership, I have three points to share:
Observation: I constantly reflect on my actions and those of individuals around me to see how they impact the team's performance. Doing so guides me to improve as an individual and as a leader.
Self-reflection: When I make a decision that impacts others, I ask myself if I am doing the right thing. Seeking clarity from within helps me communicate my ideas better to the team.
Constructive exchange of ideas: I consider myself a coach rather than a manager and constantly engage my team in discussions where we can openly exchange ideas and thoughts. It includes learning and telling each other how we can improve. It builds trust and confidence in all of us.
Effectively dealing with ambiguity, learning quickly and a bias for action are sources that I’m constantly drawing from.
The power of valuing connections
In today’s ever-changing macroeconomic and geo-political landscape, the shared pursuit of a common goal between leaders and their teams is imperative. There is no substitute for developing and sustaining healthy professional connections.
I see a dual advantage in fostering an individual connection with each team member. Firstly, it enables me to become an empathetic leader, a skill I highly value. Secondly, knowing my team well makes it easier to coach and guide them in the right direction and align individual preferences to organizational goals
My experience of working in multiple geographies across North America, Europe, and Asia has strengthened my conviction about the value of strategic interactions in driving a multicultural team towards a common goal. Whenever we connect with a colleague or partner, we gather micro and macro insights and lessons that build the base for long-term professional relationships. The two points worthy of note are:
Respectful networking, patience, and empathy can help in navigating cultural limitations.
Acknowledging cultural and personality-based nuances of individuals can work wonders in building enduring connections.
When aspiring leaders seek my advice on being considered for leadership roles, I ask them to introspect on their past, present, and future skills. For me, it starts with self-reflection - my driving forces, strengths, and willingness to learn. Aspiring leaders who engage in learning will build the critical thinking and problem-solving skills required in almost all leadership roles. A piece of advice for them is to be open to change and constantly strive to elevate their skills. The multi-dimensional nature of the technology industry has immense potential to motivate and propel us to learn and stretch ourselves
Moreover, stretching pushes us to seek and interact with experts when collaborating for a common purpose and tap into conventional and not-so-conventional resources. Is there a better way to learn and engage?
We can thrive as leaders when we practice reflection through learning and listening and, engage in creating a lasting impact for the business, people, and communities. At Accenture, the Vaahini platform showcases how leaders from various backgrounds are sharpening these skills and delivering outcomes. As the Chief Strategy Officer for Technology at Accenture, I am proud and inspired to read about their leadership journeys and willing to contribute in the leadership journeys of future leaders.
Have leadership ambitions? Plan to make it happen!