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I hope reading
7 Questions with Lakshman Sharma
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Lakshman Sharma
Name: Lakshman Sharma
Current title: Founder/ CEO / Owner
Current organisation: Exlval Digital Marketing Company
My professional journey started with a totally different work field that was Quality Control Executive in Serdia Pharmaceutical Pvt. Ltd Kolkata.
In 2019, I started working as an SEO expert, although I work with SEO projects throughout India, I have been dedicated to SEO positioning of web pages on the Internet for many years.
I like web development, web programming, and above all optimization of web pages so that they have a better SEO impact and improve organic results.
Until recently, I have worked exclusively on SEO, SMM, Paid Ads, and Google Listing that can rank all niche websites and Apps higher in Search engines in very less time.
Currently, as an SEO consultant in my own Company “Exlval”, here I am working with Partners and team on the development of different Web projects in which I am designing and developing complete online marketing strategies, which include SEO, PPC, email marketing, content marketing, video marketing and social media marketing.
I try in all the projects in which I participate, to study the way to obtain benefits with a work based on my own and methodical procedures.
I am passionate about SEO, I am currently running the “Exlval Digital Marketing Company” to support our clients Globally so that they boost their visibility in Google's results pages. (Technical and semantic audit, migration / redesign, reporting, monitoring etc.)
I also carry out "punch" assignments for new clients following a drop in SEO performance.
If you have further queries about SEO and any other digital marketing services.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The hard part is to communicate while working remotely and keeping alignment in the team in these times makes it more challenging. Also, the execution of new strategies takes up lots of time for the same reasons.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
In 2018-19, I was working with Serdia pharmaceutical as a quality control executive in Kolkata. But the same story, I wanted to do something on my own. I didn't want to work the same 9 to 5 daily. Yes, Job was good though. They were paying me well and overall it was a secure job. Yet, I wanted to be my own boss. Thus I left my job and came back to Ahmedabad. After exploring the Digital Marketing field I joined as SEO Executive and in just 3 months as a team leader in a well known digital marketing institute of Ahmedabad, India. There I met the other two co-founders of Exlval. We were colleagues back then. Over lunch and tea breaks we planned out everything. Soon we realized that we are not giving it sufficient time, then we all dropped our jobs and decided to work dedicatedly on our dreams. So, we started Exlval in February 2020 without any further distractions.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My day starts with checking emails at 8:30, after that, a morning meeting with the teammates at 10:00 am that follows with a meeting with the co-founders. After that, all the work depends on the daily tasks that include meeting and follow-ups with clients, client work, and follow-up with teammates or a meeting if it’s needed. I usually take my lunch between all this.
I take my break in the evening to have dinner and spend some time with my family and resume my work at 10:00 pm after a two hours break. Now, I check submissions, update plans for teammates, talk with other co-founders and discuss plans for the next day or any new strategies we want to work on.
After all this, I give myself a treat with a book, some blogs on the latest trends and case studies from silicon valley or more, and It all ends at 4:00 am.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The lesson I learned recently:
I am going to lose a team member whether I help them or not. However, because I help them, they help me by working hard, while they use their time to learn and build the skills for their change.
Most of your team members will want to grow in ways that align with their current job or a promotion they want. As a manager, supporting them often takes you very little time and can really pay off in their morale and motivation.
As I learned, even small efforts can mean a lot to your people. Even better, when you can align it to their work, it helps you retain them long-term.
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?
For me, it’s “Good to Great by James C. Collins” for sure.
This book impacted so many decisions in my professional journey.
“First who, then what? - Deciding on who will be our niche and how well it works for us in the future too.
“Become aware of emerging market trends and potential problems”- We all know that marketing is changing rapidly and being with trends is a most important thing for any business but it always comes with the risk, so being at calculative risk is equally important.
“Focus all your resources towards that area of strength”- It helped me to figure out the strength of my teammates and how we can redirect it in the right direction and make it work for both of us.
The last and my favorite one “Steady, Consistent progress leads to eventual breakthrough”- It helped me in lockdown 1.0 because it happened just after we started our company, and lockdown happened, yet we never stopped. We are making progress day by day whether it’s small or big.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
1. Get clarity on what is the best use of your and your teammate’s time.
2. Uplift the talents and the value of each person in your team.
3. Make requests to them, not demands, so that you get employee input.
4. Establish specific, measurable objectives with the team.
5. Empower employees to create their own solutions.
6. Share the power and resist the temptation to micromanage or take over.
7. Co-create an inspiring but attainable schedule.
8. Develop a collaborative reporting and feedback system.
9. Keep a log of who, what, and when you delegate for tracking purposes.
10. Celebrate achievements and relationships between team members.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
There and back again, turning an A-Player into a B Player
In a past company, we had a small team that worked remotely. We got together a few times a month but otherwise relied on email and calls to stay on the same page.
This was great to allow everyone to be efficient and focused on their work.
Unfortunately, it also created management blind spots.
Over time, another leader and I noticed one of our best team members seemed to be disengaging. They didn’t bring the same enthusiasm and extra touch to their work we previously saw.
In a one on one with their manager, we discussed their recent work. Did we need to let them go? What happened?
Neither of us knew the answer.
The epiphany: A lack of real communication
As we continued speaking we realized both of us had failed to check in with her. It had been months since either of us last checked in with her.
Realizing their drop in quality of work might just be our fault, I took responsibility. I reached out to them and immediately scheduled a 1 on 1. I’m very glad I did.
I started the 1 on 1 by apologizing that we hadn’t been checking in with them. Then we started talking about how they were doing.
It was then I discovered that their interests had shifted and they wanted to make some small changes to their role. They also had different long-term goals now, so what we thought were great tasks that furthered those goals, were wrong.
What’s most amazing to me in retrospect is how quickly things turned around. After just two 1 on 1’s, I listened and made some small changes, they started showing their past enthusiasm and quality work.
From that point forward, I’ve always kept in mind that you can’t take any of your good people for granted. You have to make time to check in on them and assume if there’s a problem it could just as much be you causing it as anything wrong with them.
And all it took was making time to listen and take action on what I heard.
I learned the hard way what happens when you don’t check in with a team member. They became disengaged, and it was because I wasn’t making time for them.