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7 Questions on Leadership with Capt Gajanan Karanjikar

Name: Capt Gajanan Karanjikar

Title: Director

Organisation: Cordelia Marine services FZ-LLC UAE

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

I hope Gajanan'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 encountered a myriad of challenges that vary depending on the tasks at hand. Throughout my leadership journey, I have navigated through some of the most demanding and challenging situations imaginable. What makes these experiences particularly arduous is the ever-changing nature of the circumstances.

Indeed, the dynamism of the situations I've faced adds an extra layer of complexity to the challenges. As a leader, I must be prepared to adapt continuously as the status quo evolves. In dynamic environments, what may seem like a straightforward task one moment can swiftly transform into a multifaceted issue the next.

In such fluid situations, the ability to make swift and informed decisions becomes paramount. It is essential to possess a keen sense of foresight, an astute understanding of the situation's intricacies, and the capacity to anticipate potential obstacles before they materialize.

Moreover, leading in dynamic environments necessitates a high level of resilience. As a leader, I have come to embrace the reality that setbacks and unexpected turns are an inherent part of the journey. It is during these trying times that my resolve is tested, and I must summon the strength to persist and find innovative solutions.

At times, the challenges I face may appear insurmountable, and doubts may creep in. However, I have learned that fostering a positive mindset and a sense of optimism can serve as powerful catalysts to overcome obstacles. By maintaining a can-do attitude and instilling the same in my team, we create a supportive atmosphere where challenges are seen as opportunities for growth.

Furthermore, effective communication is indispensable in dynamic leadership situations. Keeping the team well-informed and ensuring open channels of dialogue enable us to stay agile and respond promptly to changes. Regular feedback sessions allow for course corrections, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

In conclusion, leadership in dynamic and challenging situations demands adaptability, foresight, resilience, a positive mindset, and effective communication. Embracing the ever-changing nature of the circumstances and viewing challenges as opportunities for growth empowers me to lead with confidence and guide my team through any storm that comes our way. As a leader, I strive to remain agile and unwavering, embracing the fluidity of the journey and rising above the challenges with determination and grace.

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

Leadership has always been an inherent part of who I am. From my earliest memories, I found myself naturally taking on leadership roles, whether it was in school or during social events. Even in my childhood, I felt a calling to lead and guide others.

My journey as a leader truly began when I became involved in a social organization. It was here that I learned the foundational principles of leadership. Those experiences shaped my character at a young age, leaving a lasting impression on my core values and beliefs.

As I embarked on a career at sea, my leadership skills were put to the test in diverse and multicultural surroundings. The challenges I encountered only served to strengthen my character and resolve. Each obstacle I faced became an opportunity for personal and professional growth, shaping me into a more capable and confident leader.

Leading in such dynamic and diverse environments has been both rewarding and demanding. It has taught me the importance of adaptability, empathy, and effective communication. As a leader, I strive to understand the unique perspectives of those around me, fostering an environment of respect and inclusivity.

Looking back on my journey, I am grateful for the experiences that have molded me into the leader I am today. Leadership is not merely a title; it is a way of life that requires continuous learning and growth. I remain committed to refining my leadership skills, inspiring others to reach their full potential, and making a positive impact in the lives of those I lead.

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

I am essentially a 5 am club guy, my thinking and day starts when I wake up. I work through a mind map of each day with all slippages form last day to fresh issues of today. I do find some time to read in the morning which is followed by a meditation of 30-45 minutes and a light exercise. These are the essential boosters for me and give me power for the whole day. Most mornings go in conversations and planning. I do look at few pressing issues requiring my attention. After noon power nap is must and i do listen to some news during that time to find what is happening in my region. Power nap boosts energy for early start day. evenings are normally cool and spend my most of the time meeting people face to face. it is time of investment for future so i structure it that way to brainstorm certain projects for future. Nights are home filled with family, sitting and discussing matters of family and friends.

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

Active listening: One of the most important leadership lessons that leaders often need to be reminded of is the power of active listening. In today's fast-paced and complex world, it's easy for leaders to get caught up in their own thoughts, agendas, and decision-making processes. However, being an effective leader requires the ability to truly listen to the concerns, ideas, and feedback of team members and stakeholders.

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?

"In Search of Excellence" written by Tom Peters, had a profound impact on me for management thinking by challenging traditional management practices and advocating for a more people-centric and customer-oriented approach to business. It remains relevant even decades after its publication, and its insights continue to shape the way organizations strive for excellence and sustainable success.

The central theme of the book is that there are certain common principles and practices shared by excellent companies that contribute to their sustained success. Peters and Waterman identified eight key attributes, which they referred to as "Eight Basics" or "Eight Attributes of Excellence"

Empowering employees and productivity through people -I have been always favour of this especially to women in organisation. Tehir independant thinking is amazing and can contribute to foster lot of out of box thinking. I fact all employees when they are given free hand, they do own the things , problems and bring out solutions which are off ground level.

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

Young leaders should always remain on learning curve and one of the attributes they need to adopt is active listening. Listening to one and all is only way to fast track on learning as you would learn from everyone's experiences which are at different level.

Remember, active listening is not just about hearing words; it's about understanding the speaker's emotions, concerns, and underlying messages. By mastering this skill, young leaders can create a more inclusive and supportive environment, build stronger relationships with team members, and make more informed decisions.

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

Leadership stories are plentiful, and I have had the privilege of serving as a ship's captain, where I encountered complex events and extremely demanding situations. Some of these situations have been hazardous, where the safety of the crew and passengers was of utmost importance. Allow me to share one such incident that tested my leadership abilities to their core.

On that fateful day, while navigating the treacherous waters, my ship was unexpectedly hit by a deadly storm. The sheer force of the storm was overwhelming, and it seemed like the eye of the storm had engulfed us. As the chaos ensued, I realized that this situation demanded more than just weather management – it required exceptional people management skills.

Fear and panic gripped the crew members, as they feared for their lives and the safety of the passengers onboard. It was a moment of immense pressure and responsibility, and I knew that I had to keep them calm, motivated, and focused on the task at hand.

In the face of such adversity, I understood that maintaining the crew's morale was crucial. Their resilience and determination were vital for the survival of the ship and everyone onboard. I had to be the pillar of strength and a source of inspiration during those critical moments.

I gathered the crew and communicated with them openly, assuring them that together, we could overcome this formidable challenge. I acknowledged their fears and concerns while instilling confidence in their abilities. I reminded them of the extensive training they had undergone and their unwavering commitment to their duties.

With my guidance, the crew began securing the ship, braving the raging elements with determination and focus. As the leader, I had to be proactive in delegating responsibilities and empowering the team members to make swift decisions, ensuring that every task was executed with precision.

Throughout the ordeal, I maintained constant communication, providing updates and ensuring that everyone was aware of our progress and any changes in the situation. I believed that transparency was key to building trust and a sense of unity amongst the crew.

The storm tested not only the endurance of the ship but also my own endurance as their leader. I had to remain composed, making tough decisions while considering the safety and well-being of everyone on board.

Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, the storm subsided, and we emerged victorious. The ship had weathered the storm, and the crew's resilience had triumphed over adversity.

Reflecting on that challenging experience, I learned the significance of effective people management in times of crisis. Leadership goes beyond merely giving orders; it involves understanding the emotions and concerns of your team members, fostering a sense of unity, and empowering them to face challenges head-on.

That incident taught me the true essence of leadership – the ability to lead with courage, empathy, and unwavering determination. It strengthened my resolve to always prioritize the safety and well-being of those I lead and to inspire them to bring out the best in themselves, even in the most trying circumstances.

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