Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Patrick Sutton
Title: Head of People
Organisation: HR Advisor Inc
Patrick L. Sutton is a remarkable individual, embodying a unique blend of creativity and technical acumen. With a strategic mindset and a penchant for innovative problem-solving, he has made significant contributions in the realms of leadership, human resources, filmmaking, and community service.
A natural extrovert, Patrick possesses a remarkable ability to forge connections and foster meaningful relationships with individuals from all walks of life. With over 15 years of experience in leadership roles, Patrick has established himself as a prominent figure in the tech industry.
He has demonstrated his exceptional people management skills through various positions, including his most recent role as the Head of People for a prominent fintech company based in San Jose, California. In this capacity, Patrick played a pivotal role in shaping the company's people operations, ensuring a harmonious and productive work environment.
Moreover, Patrick extends his expertise as an HR Advisor to numerous start-ups, providing valuable guidance on developing successful people operations plans. His strategic thinking and creative problem-solving abilities enable him to offer innovative solutions to the challenges faced by emerging companies, contributing to their growth and success.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
I believe it's in the details of balance. This delicate balancing act that requires empathy, strong communication skills, and the ability to navigate complex situations with fairness and integrity. As a leader you want to make sure you've done the right thing. However, I've found it is through these challenges that as a leader, I can grow, learn, and make a meaningful impact on the people I lead and the outcomes I strive to achieve.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My first leadership opportunity came in high school as the student government body president. I believe it was through that experience where I realized that I had an ability to connect with others, as well as make strides in improving and leading a change with impact. I believe we all have that origin story of when and how we became a leader. In my career, I was a new manager and was responsible for a very experienced team. I knew that I needed to gain trust and a partnership if I was going to be successful in accomplishing the responsibilities in which I had been hired for. I got to know my team, discovering what mattered to them, and what motivated them to want to do a great job. Leaders listen, they adapt, and they not only build trust, but maintain it. I was able to do that with my team and it showed and not only in the work we delivered but other departments recognized that the new manager (me)was making positive strides in engaging my team and the work output was better.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I start everyday with a few minutes of mindfulness. I take the time to focus solely on me. I avoid turning on the computer or looking at my to-do list. I believe as leaders or individuals in general should prioritize themself. I have peaks of when I'm in high strategy mode, and I don't waiver from it. I also check in with myself to ensure that I've either taken a walk or stepped away from my desk to get fresh air. I may also do a few occasional stretches and 15- minute yoga poses for flexibility.
When my work day begins to wind down, I do an inventory of the work I've done for the day. It may seem like exhausting but it works for me, but I do a daily self-evaluation. Did I contribute enough? Did I complete the tasks that came unexpectedly? I make sure that I receive at least a 2/3 in which there is a yes. Knowing that I have completed 2/3 means that when it's time for me to go to sleep, my mind isn't racing or thinking I should have done more.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I'm reminded of grace. As leaders we have to allow ourselves grace. It's that period in which we acknowledge there are only so many hours in the day. You have to know that you've added value, and when you fall short, to allow oneself the grace of taking a break.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The book is called Self Observation:The Awakening of Conscience by Red Hawk. It's a book that really explores how we as individuals reach alignment with ourselves first. "Knowing others is wisdom; Knowing the self is enlightenment .( Lao Tsu. Tao Te Ching, Sutra 33) it's an invaluable tool in which I believe as a leader, you should know who you are. In complete alignment, whether its your values, empathy, or communication. It's important to understand how "you operate" Knowing my full self and being authentic provides a compass that allows me to lead effectively. I value transparency and I believe it's essential in being not only a giver of feedback, but a recipient of it as well. It's how we improve or become 1% better.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Never stop learning because leadership is an evolution and in order to remain present, you have to be willing to constantly be open to growing. You grow from knowledge and learning is forever,
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
It was in 2012, and I along with a colleague were managing a team of 24. I was responsible for 12 and my colleague had 12. At the top of 2013, my colleague exited the organization and rather the role be replaced, I raised my hand and offered to manage all 24. Some would say it was outrageous, others may say it was ambitious. Personally, I defined it as revolutionary . I was now responsible for managing 24 individuals in five different sites.
I was scared, but I had the courage in myself, and the trust of my manager who had shown me what leadership was about. Through the course of that experience, I coached, I empowered, and celebrated 24 individuals who would excel in their roles, as well as move into other leadership roles. It was life changing for them. It was also life changing for me, because I realized that I was capable.
I enhanced my communication skills, reprogrammed how empathy shows up in your leadership skills, and the importance of pivoting in your strategies. It was by far the most defining moment of recognizing what value truly lies in leadership. Trust is Essential, Communication is Pivotal, and Teamwork is Critical. Being a good leader requires a consistent pull and you can choose to ignore it, or embrace. I chose to embrace it, and it's been the most rewarding experience to date.