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7 Questions on Leadership with Chirag Chadha

Name: Chirag Chadha

Title: Chief Operating Officer

Organisation: Rahul Arts India

During my upbringing, my curiosity led me to dismantle and rebuild toys, games, and gadgets to understand their inner workings. Failures didn't deter me; they were lessons for future success. My inquisitive nature has been the key to my greatest achievements.

Despite my background in Law, I saw an opportunity to understand the essence of any organization: its people. I believe each person's journey is divinely timed, and nobody achieves beyond their destiny.

My path took an unexpected turn when I became the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Rahul Arts India. Here, I combine legal knowledge with software, graphic design, and a passion for problem-solving. I apply human-centered design principles to create innovative solutions and foster productivity.

In my role, I oversee projects like signage, metal coatings on architectural buildings at Indira Gandhi International Airport, and aluminum panel coatings on retail outlets for major companies in India. In 2022, I ventured into RMArts in Ontario, Canada, focusing on refurbishing architectural buildings through metal coatings.

My journey has been about understanding, innovating, and creating solutions that drive growth and success.

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

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


Jonno White

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

The most daunting aspect of my journey was transitioning from the legal field to the realm of operations, and it has been quite an exhilarating ride. While it presented its fair share of challenges, I am delighted to say that I successfully surmounted every obstacle, earning myself another valuable credential in the world of coatings and paints.

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

I don't consider myself a Leader but a Supporting Hand for my People.

My Story : Growing up, I would dismantle every toy/game/gadget at sight in an attempt to understand how and why they work the way they do and rebuild to full functionality. Just like everything in life, I succeeded at some and lost others. My broken toys were not enough to stop me, rather, I approached my next "experiment" with lessons from the failed ones to ensure success. I would attribute my greatest wins to my extremely inquisitive nature which enables me to understand what exists and opportunities to reinvent and recreate.

Starting my career in Law seemed like a mismatch at first given my Bachelors in Law. However, I immediately recognized the opportunity it presented, to understand the most important asset of any organization; the people.

I accept each individual on the planet are in a course of events which the god has proactively chosen. Nobody gets or accomplishes before his/her timeline.

Indeed, even the god rolled out an extreme improvement in my timetable. I landed on as Chief Operating Officer (COO) with Rahul Arts India where my knowledge of legal, software’s, Graphic designing and ability to learn along with saw the need of combined knowledge of people and systems with my desire for problem-solving. I enjoy applying human-centered design and design thinking principles to create innovative solutions and business models geared towards growth. I was privileged to harness diverse views and opinions to create solutions that foster productivity.

You will find me observing how people meet their daily needs, obsessing over changing consumer sentiments, and analyzing disruptive business models in a bid to create ventures with a positive impact on people, organizations, and society at large.

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

I'll break down my typical day for you in a simple, everyday way:

**Morning (6:30 AM - 9:30 AM):**

- I wake up early, around 6:30 AM, to start my day fresh.

- I take Pablo Escobar, my dog, for a morning walk. It's not just good for him; it's good for me too!

- A healthy breakfast gets me ready for the day.

**Work Time (9:30 AM - 6:00 PM):**

- I begin by looking at my goals and what needs to be done, making sure it fits with our company's plans.

- I set up meetings in the morning when I'm most focused. These can be with my team, talking about projects, or meeting with clients.

- I check and reply to emails and messages to stay in touch with my team and clients.

- I take some time for thinking big picture stuff, like how our projects are going and if we need to change anything.

- I make important decisions during the day, using my legal and operational knowledge to tackle tricky problems.

- I work closely with my team, helping them and making sure things are running smoothly.

- At lunchtime, I take a break, eat a healthy meal, and go for a short walk to clear my head.

- In the afternoon, I get to work on tasks, look at reports, and keep an eye on how our projects are progressing.

- I make sure I'm always learning new things to stay on top of the latest trends and ideas in my field.

- I also spend some time building relationships with others in my industry, whether that's chatting with colleagues or attending events.

**Evening (After 6:00 PM):**

- After 6:00 PM, my time belongs to me and my family. Unless it's something really, really important for work, I focus on us.

So, that's how I structure my day – it's about balancing work, personal time, and staying healthy.

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

One of the key lessons I've learned is that as a leader, it's crucial to remain flexible and open to change. Whether it's a sudden shift in market conditions, disruptions in the supply chain, or unexpected external factors like a global pandemic, leaders must be ready to adjust their strategies and plans accordingly.

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 truly left a mark on my leadership journey is "The Leadership Sutra: An Indian Approach to Power" by Devdutt Pattanaik. This captivating book takes a deep dive into leadership principles inspired by ancient Indian mythology and philosophy.

What made this book so impactful for me was its introduction to the concept of "dharma," a term often associated with duty and righteousness in Indian philosophy. "The Leadership Sutra" beautifully explores how leaders can draw inspiration from age-old Indian wisdom to lead with authenticity and a clear sense of purpose.

One story from the book, in particular, stayed with me—the tale of King Harishchandra. This narrative tells the story of a king who unwaveringly upheld his dharma, even when faced with unimaginable adversity, such as losing his kingdom and family. King Harishchandra's commitment to truth and justice, despite personal sacrifices, vividly illustrates the immense power of integrity in leadership.

This story served as a poignant reminder of the significance of staying true to one's values and principles as a leader, even when confronted with difficult decisions. It reinforced the idea that leadership extends beyond mere success; it involves upholding ethical standards and doing what is right, even if it demands personal sacrifices.

"The Leadership Sutra" prompted me to take a closer look at my own leadership style and the values that underpin my choices. It reaffirmed that effective leadership isn't solely about achieving goals; it's about achieving them in a manner that aligns with one's core principles and values. This book has played an instrumental role in shaping my approach to leadership, emphasizing the importance of ethics, integrity, and a sense of purpose in guiding my actions as a leader.

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

If I could offer just one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be this: Never stop learning and growing.

Leadership is a journey, not a destination. It's a continuous process of self-improvement and adaptation. Embrace every opportunity to expand your knowledge, refine your skills, and gain new experiences. Seek out mentors, read widely, and never shy away from challenging yourself.

The world is ever-changing, and effective leadership requires the ability to navigate through uncertainty and complexity. By committing to lifelong learning, you'll not only stay relevant but also become a more agile and insightful leader. Remember that the most successful leaders are those who remain open to new ideas, perspectives, and possibilities.

So, stay curious, be open to feedback, and never underestimate the power of continuous self-improvement. Your willingness to learn and grow will not only benefit you but also inspire those you lead.

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

Let me share a meaningful story from my time as a leader, one that reflects the essence of teamwork and the power of diverse voices coming together.

We were deep into a challenging project with GMR at Delhi International Airport involving intricate architectural coatings. The project was a demanding one, with tight deadlines, complex design specifications, and unexpected technical roadblocks cropping up as we went along. It seemed like every step forward was met with two steps back, and we were faced with the real possibility of not meeting our client's expectations.

In the midst of the mounting pressure and uncertainty, our team rallied together. We recognized that we needed fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to overcome the hurdles we faced. So, we began holding regular brainstorming sessions, where everyone's input was not just welcomed but actively sought, irrespective of their position or experience.

During one of these sessions, something remarkable happened. A junior team member, who had been somewhat reserved until that point, spoke up with an idea that had the potential to be a game-changer. His perspective was novel, and his approach was refreshingly innovative.

We decided to give his idea a shot, and it turned out to be the solution we'd been desperately searching for. Not only did it resolve the immediate issue, but it also streamlined the entire project, making it more efficient and effective.

This experience left a lasting mark on me. It reinforced the value of creating an inclusive and collaborative work environment, where every team member's voice is not just heard but cherished. It's a reminder that leadership isn't solely about providing direction; it's about fostering a culture where everyone feels empowered to contribute their best ideas.

The story serves as a testament to the incredible results that can emerge when individuals come together, pooling their unique talents and perspectives. It reinforces my belief in the immense strength of a united team and the potential for groundbreaking solutions to emerge from the most unexpected places. It's a story I often share to inspire and highlight the remarkable achievements that can be realized through collective effort.

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