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7 Questions on Leadership with Abdul Wasay Waqas

Name: Abdul Wasay Waqas

Title: SEO Manager II

Organisation: Imperium Dynamics

Abdul Wasay, an SEO Manager with 9+ years of experience in digital marketing, delivers data-driven strategies boosting online visibility for B2B, SaaS, and tech brands, and is certified in Google Analytics.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Abdul's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

As an experienced SEO Manager, I've led teams of various sizes and skill sets for over eight years. Throughout my journey, I've encountered various challenges that have shaped my approach to leadership and my understanding of the complexities involved in bringing out the best in those I lead.

As a leader, balancing clear direction and autonomy among team members is challenging. Articulating goals and strategies aligning with the team's capabilities is essential. Empowering individuals to make decisions, take initiative, and contribute unique perspectives maintains a sense of shared responsibility and ownership and helps teams thrive.

One of the challenges I have faced is motivating and inspiring my team members to perform at their best. While individual motivation is important, a leader can significantly impact the morale and drive of the team. Creating a positive and supportive work environment is crucial, which involves recognizing and celebrating achievements and offering growth opportunities for professional development. When team members feel appreciated and engaged, they tend to bring their best selves to work, ultimately contributing to the team's success.

Leaders are constantly challenged to navigate change and adapt to evolving industry trends. This is particularly true in digital marketing, where new technologies, platforms, and strategies are constantly emerging. Leaders must remain agile and adaptable to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of the digital landscape. They need to continuously evaluate and refine their approach to ensure their team is equipped to meet the challenges of the changing digital landscape.

Effective leadership is not about exerting authority but empowering others. It requires a collaborative environment, open communication, mutual respect, shared goals, leading by example, demonstrating commitment, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

As I grow as a leader, I am committed to embracing challenges, learning from experiences, refining my approach, developing my leadership skills, and inspiring my team to achieve greatness.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My leadership journey began early in my career, as I naturally gravitated towards roles that involved mentoring and guiding others. I discovered a passion for helping my colleagues develop their skills, expand their knowledge, and achieve their professional goals. This passion led me to seek opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities, starting with smaller teams and gradually progressing to larger ones.

One of the defining moments in my leadership journey occurred as the SEO Team Lead at NXT LABS. I was faced with a team of talented but inexperienced individuals, and this made me realize that effective leadership is not about dictating or micromanaging but about building a culture of learning, collaboration, and empowerment. I took a hands-on approach, providing guidance and mentorship while encouraging team members to take ownership of their projects and contribute their unique perspectives. This approach helped us achieve success and allowed team members to grow professionally and personally.

During my leadership, the team exceeded expectations and produced exceptional results. This experience taught me the value of building a team that feels respected, empowered, and appreciated. The significance of creating a supportive and collaborative environment where every individual can thrive and reach their full potential was also highlighted.

I kept looking for opportunities to enhance my leadership skills as I progressed. I joined leadership development programs, participated in workshops, and established mentor-mentee relationships with experienced leaders. Additionally, I consistently sought feedback from my colleagues and team members to improve my ability to motivate, inspire, and guide others.

Throughout my experiences, I have developed a leadership philosophy emphasizing the importance of servant leadership, empowering others, and fostering a continuous learning and improvement culture. Effective leaders are not just managers or bosses. They are facilitators, mentors, and catalysts for growth. They can inspire others to achieve more than they thought possible and positively impact the world around them.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My days are typically packed with various tasks, from developing and implementing SEO strategies to analyzing website traffic and optimizing content. To manage my time effectively and ensure I'm making the most of my workday, I follow a structured routine that helps me stay focused, productive, and energized.

Here's a breakdown of my typical workday:

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM: Wake Up and Prepare for the Day

I start my day by waking up at 6:00 AM and taking time. I usually begin with a quick meditation session to clear my mind and set a positive intention for the day. Then, I enjoy a healthy breakfast and get ready for work.

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM: Personal Time and Commute

Before work, I run errands or exercise and take time to read and relax, which refreshes me for the day ahead.

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM: Morning Work Block

I arrive at the office at 11:30 AM and start my workday by checking emails, responding to messages, and reviewing my schedule. Then, I dedicate the next few hours to focused work, such as developing SEO strategies, conducting keyword research, and optimizing content.

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Lunch Break

I take a lunch break from my desk to give my mind and body a break. I usually eat a healthy lunch and spend some time socializing with colleagues.

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM: Afternoon Work Block

The afternoon is typically a mix of meetings, collaborative work, and project management. I meet with clients, team members, and stakeholders to discuss project progress and strategy. I also collaborate with team members to develop and implement SEO strategies.

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM: Wrap Up and Planning

I finish my work, review my progress, and prioritize tasks the following day. I also check emails and respond to any urgent messages.

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM: Evening Routine

I leave the office at 9:00 PM and head home to wind down and relax. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, exercising, or pursuing hobbies.

10:00 PM - 12:00 PM: Unwind and Prepare for Sleep

I spend time winding down before bed by reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques. I aim to be in bed by 10:00 PM to get a good night's sleep.

This structured routine helps me make the most of my time, stay focused and productive throughout the day, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. By incorporating regular breaks, prioritizing self-care, and establishing a consistent sleep schedule, I can effectively approach my work positively and achieve my goals.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

As an SEO Manager II with over eight years of experience, I constantly learn and evolve as a leader. One of my most recent lessons is the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence in effective leadership.

In the past, I prioritized technical skills and strategic planning, overlooking the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence in effective leadership.

Empathy helps me establish a strong connection with my team members, understand their viewpoints, and create a supportive and inclusive work environment. It enables me to identify their strengths and weaknesses, provide them with the necessary resources and support to excel and cultivate a sense of trust and belonging.

Emotional intelligence allows me to manage my emotions and navigate team dynamics, stay calm under pressure, communicate effectively in challenging situations, and constructively resolve conflicts.

Embracing empathy and emotional intelligence positively impacts team morale, engagement, and productivity. This leads to empowered team members who feel valued and respected, resulting in better collaboration, innovation, and success.

This leadership lesson reminds us that effective leadership involves not just technical expertise and strategic planning but also connecting with people on a personal level, understanding their emotions, and creating an environment that fosters growth for everyone.

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?

"Start with Why" by Simon Sinek is a book that has profoundly impacted my leadership journey. The book introduced me to the Golden Circle, a framework for understanding and communicating purpose. The Golden Circle is made up of three concentric circles:

- The why at the center represents the core purpose, the reason for existence.

- The how in the middle circle represents the processes and actions taken to achieve the purpose.

- The what on the outer circle represents the tangible products or services offered.

According to Sinek, most organizations communicate externally, emphasizing their actions and methods. Nonetheless, exceptional leaders communicate internally, beginning with their "why" or purpose. By expressing their mission clearly, leaders can motivate and inspire others to join their cause.

After reading this book, I had a profound realization and change in my leadership approach. I understood that it was not enough to delegate tasks and set goals for my team members but to connect with them. I learned the importance of sharing our purpose, mission, and the positive impact we aim to make together. This book has been transformational and helped me become a better leader.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Lead with empathy and cultivate a growth mindset.

Effective leadership involves:

- Connecting on a human level.

- Understanding perspectives.

- Creating an empowering environment for all to contribute their best.

Solid leadership is built on empathy, which allows you to develop deeper connections with your team members and comprehend their motivations, strengths, and challenges. By fostering empathy, you can create an inclusive and supportive environment where team members are comfortable expressing their ideas, taking risks, and learning from their mistakes. Ultimately, this helps to build trust and rapport within your team.

Fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement requires a growth mindset. As a leader, you need to have faith in the potential of your team members and motivate them to step out of their comfort zones, embrace challenges, and enhance their skills. Your team can unlock its full potential and accomplish remarkable outcomes by creating a growth-oriented environment.

Effective leadership involves fostering connections, personal growth, and empowering teams to make an impact through empathy and a growth mindset.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

During the past eight years of my career as an SEO Manager II, I have had the privilege of leading and mentoring many individuals. I have witnessed their growth and development, and one story that particularly stands out is the journey of a young SEO specialist named Ali.

When Ali joined my team, they were an entry-level employee who had recently graduated from college and were excited to make a name for themselves in the world of digital marketing. Ali had abundant energy and a strong passion for SEO but needed more technical skills and experience to navigate the industry's complexities.

I recognized Ali's potential and decided to become his mentor, guiding him as he began his journey in SEO. I encouraged him to embrace his curiosity and learn from his mistakes by immersing himself in the world of SEO through online courses, tutorials, and industry literature.

As time went on, Ali's technical skills gradually improved. He gained a solid understanding of SEO fundamentals, including keyword research, on-page optimization, and link-building principles. He even began testing new SEO techniques, putting his knowledge into practice on real-life projects.

As Ali's technical skills improved, he grew more confident. He began actively participating in team discussions, sharing his insights, and contributing to developing SEO strategies. His passion for the field was contagious, and he motivated his colleagues enthusiastically.

Ali significantly contributed to a challenging project where we optimized a small start-up's website. With a combination of technical expertise and creative thinking, Ali analyzed the website's performance, identified areas for improvement, and aligned the strategy with the start-up's unique business goals.

Under Ali's guidance, organic traffic increased, raising brand awareness and engagement. His ability to grasp complex concepts and translate them into tangible results impressed the team.

Ali's story emphasizes the importance of mentorship and investing in team members' growth, helping them become valuable contributors. Effective leadership can transform individuals with a passion for SEO but limited experience, unlocking their potential.

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