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7 Questions on Leadership with Binaya Maharjan

Name: Binaya Maharjan

Title: Executive Officer

Organisation: Lincoln University College Associates of Nepal

A dynamic and results-driven professional with a fervent commitment to driving growth and establishing strategic partnerships in the realm of business development.

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

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


Jonno White

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

As a leader, I have found one of the most challenging aspects to be fostering and maintaining effective communication within the team. Ensuring that information flows seamlessly, expectations are clear, and everyone feels heard can be a complex and ongoing task.

Communication challenges can manifest in various ways. For instance, transmitting a strategic vision in a way that resonates with different team members, managing feedback loops efficiently, and addressing concerns promptly are all crucial aspects. In a dynamic work environment, staying ahead of communication breakdowns and ensuring that the team is aligned with organizational goals demand constant attention.

Moreover, as a leader, it's essential to adapt communication styles to suit the needs of diverse team members, considering factors such as individual preferences, cultural differences, and varying levels of expertise. Balancing the need for transparency with discretion in certain situations is another layer of complexity.

Overcoming these challenges requires a combination of active listening, choosing the right communication channels, providing constructive feedback, and consistently reinforcing the organization's values and objectives. Building a culture of open communication not only enhances team cohesion but also contributes significantly to overall productivity and success.

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

Early on, I pursued relevant academic qualifications that laid the foundation for my understanding of business principles, leadership theories, and management practices. However, true leadership is cultivated through hands-on experience and a willingness to learn and adapt.

I entered the workforce with an eagerness to take on challenges and a proactive mindset. In my early roles, I actively sought out opportunities to lead projects and initiatives. Whether it was spearheading a team task or volunteering for leadership training programs, I was consistently motivated to refine my leadership skills.

Crucially, I also recognized the importance of mentorship. Learning from experienced leaders in my field provided valuable insights into effective leadership strategies and allowed me to understand the nuances of navigating complex professional environments.

Throughout my career, I embraced feedback and continually worked on areas of improvement. This commitment to self-reflection and a growth mindset played a pivotal role in my evolution as a leader. I actively sought out and embraced new challenges, not just within my comfort zone but beyond it, fostering resilience and adaptability.

Over time, I accumulated a diverse set of experiences, from project management to team collaboration and client relations. These experiences equipped me with the skills and insights necessary for leadership roles. As I demonstrated a consistent ability to drive results, inspire my team, and navigate organizational challenges, I naturally progressed into leadership positions.

Ultimately, my journey into leadership was marked by a combination of education, hands-on experience, mentorship, a commitment to continuous learning, and a genuine passion for making a positive impact within the organizations I've been a part of. Leadership, to me, is an evolving journey that requires a blend of self-awareness, resilience, and a dedication to fostering growth in oneself and others.

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

As a leader, structuring my work days is crucial for maintaining productivity, balance, and effective decision-making. Here's a glimpse into how I typically organize my day:

Morning Routine:

- Early Wake-up: I believe in starting the day early to maximize productivity. Waking up early allows me to have some quiet, focused time before the demands of the day begin.

- Mindfulness and Planning: I often begin with a brief mindfulness practice, followed by reviewing my schedule and priorities for the day. This helps set a positive and intentional tone.

- Healthy Breakfast: I prioritize a nutritious breakfast to fuel my energy for the day ahead. Taking care of my physical well-being is integral to sustaining high performance.

Workday Structure:

- Strategic Planning: The early part of the workday is dedicated to strategic planning. I tackle high-priority tasks, set goals, and establish a roadmap for the team.

-Meetings and Collaboration: Mid-morning and early afternoon are typically reserved for meetings, both internal team discussions and external collaborations. I ensure there's a balance between individual focus time and collaborative efforts.

-Lunch Break: I allocate time for a healthy lunch, which may include networking with team members or peers. Taking a break is essential for maintaining focus and preventing burnout.

-Afternoon Focus: In the afternoon, I focus on execution—implementing strategies, addressing critical issues, and providing guidance to the team. This is also a time for handling emails and correspondence.

Evening Routine:

-Review and Reflection: Towards the end of the workday, I review what has been accomplished, reflect on key learnings, and assess whether I'm on track with my goals.

-Team Check-ins: Depending on the nature of projects or team dynamics, I might have check-ins with team members to discuss progress, challenges, and upcoming tasks.

-Personal Development: I allocate time in the evening for personal development, which may involve reading industry-related articles, staying updated on relevant trends, or engaging in leadership-focused learning.

-Family and Leisure: Balancing work and personal life is vital. I make time for family, hobbies, and relaxation in the evening to unwind and recharge.

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

In the realm of leadership, one recent lesson that stands out is the importance of cautious optimism and continuous assessment of trust, even in relationships with mentors. While mentorship is often seen as a source of guidance and support, it's essential to recognize that individuals, including mentors, can have their own motivations and perspectives that may not always align perfectly with one's own.

In this particular instance, I learned the significance of maintaining a healthy level of skepticism and not placing blind trust solely based on a mentor-mentee relationship. The lesson underscored the importance of combining trust with a discerning mindset.

The experience served as a reminder that leadership involves navigating complex interpersonal dynamics, and it's crucial to be attuned to potential conflicts of interest or misalignments in values. Even mentors, with the best intentions, may have priorities that differ from those of their mentees.

As a leader, this lesson prompted me to incorporate a more robust system of checks and balances in my decision-making processes. It reinforced the importance of seeking diverse perspectives, conducting thorough due diligence, and not solely relying on the advice of a single source—even if that source is a trusted mentor.

While this experience was challenging, it provided valuable insights into the nuances of leadership, the necessity of maintaining a level of independence in decision-making, and the need to continually evaluate and adapt one's approach based on evolving circumstances. It also reinforced the resilience required in leadership and the importance of learning from both positive and challenging experiences to become a more effective and discerning leader.

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?

One book that has had a profound impact on my leadership is "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. This book explores the concept of leadership through the lens of fostering a culture of trust, collaboration, and shared purpose within organizations.

The central idea that leaders should prioritize the well-being of their teams and create environments where individuals feel valued resonated deeply with me. Sinek's emphasis on servant leadership and the importance of building a "Circle of Safety" around team members struck a chord. This concept advocates for leaders to prioritize the needs of their team members, much like how leaders in some tribes historically ensured the safety and well-being of their community.

The impact of the book was transformative. It prompted a shift in my leadership style, encouraging a more people-centric approach. I became more intentional about understanding the aspirations and challenges of team members, fostering a culture of open communication, and emphasizing the collective purpose that unites the team.

The book also reinforced the idea that leadership is not about authority or titles but about the responsibility to serve and support those entrusted to one's care. This perspective influenced how I approached decision-making, team dynamics, and the overall organizational culture.

Ultimately, "Leaders Eat Last" served as a guiding philosophy for creating a positive and empowering work environment. It not only shaped my leadership principles but also influenced the way I mentor and develop others within the organization. The book's impact extends beyond professional settings, reminding me of the broader societal implications of leadership and the potential for positive change when leaders prioritize the well-being and growth of their teams..

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

As a leader, if I could offer one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be to prioritize continuous learning and adaptability. Embrace every opportunity as a chance to gain new insights, refine your skills, and expand your knowledge base.

In today's fast-paced and dynamic business environment, being a successful leader requires the ability to adapt to change, learn from experiences, and stay ahead of industry trends. Actively seek out diverse perspectives, both within and outside your field, to broaden your understanding and enhance your decision-making capabilities.

Remember that leadership is a journey of growth, and the most effective leaders are those who remain curious, open-minded, and committed to self-improvement. Be resilient in the face of challenges, view failures as valuable learning experiences, and continuously seek ways to evolve and innovate.

By prioritizing continuous learning, you not only enhance your own leadership capabilities but also inspire and cultivate a culture of growth within your team. In a rapidly evolving professional landscape, the ability to adapt and learn is a powerful asset that will contribute to your long-term success as a leader.

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

One meaningful story that stands out from my time as a leader involves a challenging project where our team faced unexpected obstacles. The project was critical for the company's growth, and the pressure was high to deliver results within a tight timeline.

As the leader, I observed that the team was feeling overwhelmed by the complexities and tight deadlines. Instead of imposing a stricter timeline or placing additional stress on the team, I decided to gather everyone for an open and honest discussion. I encouraged team members to share their perspectives, concerns, and ideas for overcoming the challenges.

During this meeting, one team member, who had been relatively quiet in previous discussions, spoke up and shared a creative solution to a particularly complex issue. It turned out that this team member had a unique skill set and perspective that hadn't been fully utilized.

Empowered by the open dialogue, the team rallied around the newfound solution and collaborated to implement it. This experience taught me the power of fostering an environment where every team member feels heard, valued, and encouraged to contribute their unique strengths.

The project not only succeeded but also strengthened the team's sense of camaraderie and resilience. This story underscores the importance of leadership that prioritizes open communication, collaboration, and recognizing and leveraging the diverse strengths within a team. It serves as a reminder that meaningful solutions often arise when individuals feel empowered to share their insights and when leaders actively listen and support their teams.

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