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7 Questions on Leadership with Alif

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

Name: Alif

Title: Founder

Organisation: AI Product Plaza

Alif Vasaya provides expertise in business strategy, community growth hacking, content production, content strategy, digital ads through acquisitions, raising capital, monetizing the Metaverse, NFT affiliate marketing, consulting, and marketing advising for start-up companies.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Keeping the team feeling safe and trusting the process is tough but crucial. It's not just about hitting goals; it's also about making sure everyone's on board and feeling good about the work we're doing. Constant reassurance might seem like a chore, but it's the glue that keeps us all together. It's a juggling act, but when done right, it makes the whole journey worthwhile for everyone involved.

The necessity for constant reassurance may be viewed as a burden, but I consider it an indispensable facet of responsible leadership. It's an ongoing dialogue rather than a one-off box-ticking exercise—a daily investment that has the power to yield exponential dividends in team morale, productivity, and overall success.

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

Righto, I kicked off by managing a small team, just a handful of us. Before I knew it, the team was growing and we really started to click. I've always been good with people, so we became like a family. Funny thing is, I didn't even realise I was a leader until folks started telling me how well I was doing, both in managing the work and looking out for the team. That's when it hit me—I was actually leading, and doing a decent job at it too.

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

Alright, here's how I roll. I'm up early, first thing, to set the tone for the day. I like to start with a quick review of what's on the plate for the team and me. Since I'm big on lean management, the aim is to keep things efficient and smooth so no one's swamped.

The morning usually kicks off with a brief catch-up with the team, just to make sure everyone's on the same page. We'll clarify any client requirements then and there, so we're not second-guessing or wasting time later on.

Throughout the day, I'm pretty hands-on but not to the point where I'm hovering. I've got an eye on project timelines, checking in now and then to keep things ticking along.

By the time the arvo rolls around, I'm usually tying up loose ends and making sure we're prepped for the next day. The key here is to have everything so streamlined that no one needs to lug work home. Work-life balance is a biggie for me, so I'm clocked out mentally when I leave, and I encourage my team to do the same.

So that's pretty much it—a day built around lean management, clarity, and making sure everyone can clock off feeling good about what we've achieved.

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

Spot on, mate. The lesson that's really been driven home for me lately is that leadership is, at its core, about the people. You can have all the tech and innovation in the world, but if your team's not engaged or feeling valued, you're fighting an uphill battle.

Recently, I've been reminded that keeping an eye on the broader landscape—like market trends and automation—is critical, but it should never overshadow the human element. We're in an age where things are shifting fast, and staying ahead of the curve technology-wise is a must. But what's equally crucial is ensuring your team is along for the ride, feeling secure, heard, and keen to contribute.

It's this balanced focus—people and progress—that makes for standout leadership. Neglect one, and you're bound to feel the pinch in the other. Keeping that equilibrium? That's the golden ticket.

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?

Fair dinkum, books aren't for everyone. But TV shows like 'Game of Thrones,' 'House of Cards,' 'Person of Interest,' and 'Hannibal' have some pretty stellar lessons on leadership, too. What these shows have given me is a 360-degree view of leadership—the good, the bad, and the ugly. They've got it all: strategy, human psychology, ethics, and the nuances of power dynamics.

Take 'Game of Thrones,' for instance. It's a masterclass on the costs and benefits of various leadership styles—from the noble to the downright ruthless. It made me reckon with the question: What kind of leader do I want to be?

'House of Cards' is another corker for understanding the chess game of political maneuvering, which let's face it, is part and parcel of any leadership role. It reminds you to be strategic but also ethical in your dealings.

Each show, in its own way, has sharpened my understanding of what leadership involves, be it dealing with complex personalities or making tough calls in high-stakes situations. It's real-world smarts, served up in binge-worthy style. So, even if I'm not turning pages, you could say I'm still taking notes.

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

Mate, if I had to boil it all down to one golden nugget of wisdom, it'd be this: Know your people and know your game. Listen carefully to both your team and the demands of the work itself. Work's not just a task to tick off; it's a puzzle that fits together best when you understand all the pieces.

In essence, your people are your greatest asset and understanding your competition helps you stay sharp. If you tune into what they need, what motivates them, and what challenges them, you're halfway there. Combine that with a good read on your market and competitors, and you're not just playing the game—you're playing to win.

So don't just boss, lead. And remember, the right approach turns even the toughest challenges into achievable tasks. Leadership's a journey, but with the right compass, you're sorted.

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

Oh, 'Billions'—cracking show for leadership lessons, especially from a bloke like Bobby Axelrod. The guy's as tough as nails, but what stands out is his knack for listening to his team. He's never too big to take advice or change tack based on what his crew have to say. That's real leadership, if you ask me.

I remember one particular moment when Axelrod truly hears out his team during a complex deal. Everyone's got their two cents, but instead of bulldozing them with his own ideas, he absorbs it all and guides the team towards a consensus. That kind of acceptance—knowing you don't have all the answers—is gold.

In my own leadership journey, this hit home. I've found that making space for others to have a say not only enriches the decision-making process but also builds a culture of mutual respect and ownership. The big win is in knowing that leadership isn't about having all the answers; it's about creating an environment where the best answers can be found, collectively. Acceptance isn't a sign of weakness; it's a mark of a leader confident enough to embrace the strength of the team.

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