Name: Deepthi Shekar
Title: Initiative Lead
I am a passionate leader committed to enhancing people's lives through technology.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Deepthi's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Finding the delicate equilibrium between meeting the demands of the business and maintaining team morale is often the most formidable challenge for a leader. Striking this balance requires perceptive decision-making, effective communication, and a keen understanding of both organizational goals and the well-being of team members.
It's like walking a tightrope between getting things done and making sure your team feels good. Being a successful leader means creating a workplace that gets results while also being a supportive and positive space for your team.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Certainly! From my school days, my drive to excel has been a consistent theme in my life. If someone outperformed me in a particular skill or subject, I took it as an opportunity to observe and learn from their approach, always aiming to improve. This commitment to continuous improvement extended seamlessly into my career in IT. I discovered a genuine enjoyment in taking ownership of tasks and ensuring they were not just completed but completed exceptionally well. My belief was rooted in the idea that a title shouldn't be a prerequisite for making a meaningful impact. When our team manager received a promotion, I naturally stepped into the leadership void without an official title or being prompted to do so. Taking the initiative, I proactively drove projects forward and ensured that our delivery commitments remained unwavering. For several months, I consistently took on leadership responsibilities, demonstrating a strong commitment to the team's success. It was after consistently delivering results and displaying a proactive and committed work ethic that I was officially appointed as the leader for the team. This experience reinforced my belief in the power of initiative and the impact it can have on shaping one's role within a team.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I maintain a delicate balance between caring for my two young kids and managing work responsibilities in my daily routine. Before going to bed each night, I reflect on and list specific tasks that must be completed the next day. By cross-referencing this list with my calendar, I ensure the identified tasks align with my schedule, providing a degree of certainty about the upcoming day.
While acknowledging the inevitability of unexpected tasks arising, having a predefined list gives me a sense of structure and eases the anticipation of what lies ahead. Despite the dynamic nature of juggling work and family responsibilities, I remain adaptable. Throughout the day, I incorporate short breaks to refresh and refocus. This strategy helps me navigate each day with a sense of purpose and resilience.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A crucial leadership lesson I've learned revolves around establishing a clear boundary between work and personal life. In the relentless world of work, especially when dealing with demanding customers, the pressure to consistently meet expectations can be overwhelming. While it may be tempting to work around the clock to satisfy immediate demands, it's crucial to prioritize maintaining personal well-being. Taking deliberate breaks and moments to reset is not just beneficial but necessary. As a leader, I emphasize the significance of maintaining one's sanity, recognizing that a balanced life contributes not only to individual well-being but also enhances overall effectiveness and resilience within the professional sphere.
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?
“Leader who had no title“ by Robin Sharma.
I’m a firm believer that one doesn’t need a title to create impact. This book awakens the leader in each one of us. The book emphasizes the idea that anyone, regardless of their official role, can lead and make a significant difference. It encourages everyone to embrace their potential as leaders in all aspects of life, fostering personal and professional growth.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Welcome the opportunity to learn and be willing to explore new approaches. Value diverse perspectives, and if one method doesn't succeed, remain resilient and adapt by trying an alternative approach. Leadership is an ongoing journey marked by continuous learning, flexibility, and the determination to overcome challenges.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One experience that stands out from my time as a leader is the realization of the diversity in individual personalities within the team. Acknowledging this diversity, I learned the importance of adapting my leadership approach to cater to different preferences and communication styles. Rather than enforcing a one-size-fits-all management style, I embraced flexibility.
In doing so, I found that this approach not only creates better engagement but also contributes to a more collaborative and productive working environment. The lesson learned underscores the general principle that successful leadership involves recognizing and appreciating the unique strengths and characteristics of each team member, fostering an inclusive and effective team dynamic.