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7 Questions on Leadership with Elena Giuli

Name: Elena Giuli

Title: Head of SRE

Organisation: Santander Europe

Europe Based - Senior Software Engineer with +8 years experience in Technology Projects - Specialized in SRE implementation and Management in complex and distributed ecossystems.

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

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


Jonno White

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

A tricky challenge is influence by example, even with the formal Autorithas, you gotta build trust and lead the team to the aligned results with the organization strategy in order to build a Top Performer Elite Team.

Another challenge is Empathy. It's hard to understand and deal with a lot of different and complex human factors in an Technology Project, and it's also hard identify and make important decisions even though with empathy like firing a not performing engineer after give all possible chances, trainings and performance boosters, for example.

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

I've worked in several Projects as Tech Individual Contributor, and while I keep advancing with the teams, as a System Thinker, that is natural for me seek for patterns, constraints, value and flows, so I ended becoming some kind of reference for the team and source of support, as time goes by, every new chelenge, after some time I was designed as focal point and leader in the ecossystem. As I am passionate about coding and backend tasks I tried to run and move to another challenge I could work as Tech Individual contributor, but with the time the same pattern repeats and after iddentify it, I focused developing my leaderships skills and keep going unifying Tech and Managing skills for the best results.

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

15 minutes blocks

I seek to optimize everything all the time, so I usually divide my time in 15 minutes blocks, for focus, meetings and everything.

In the end of each cycle, I observe and analyse to seek for patterns and improvements opportunities experiments, develop hypotheses for that, try out and repeat.

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

I recently was reminded of the power of hybrid conections. Now I'm working in Málaga, Spain's Southern Sun Coast, and my team is hybrid, so I have the challenge of optimize the hybrid management in a fair and efficient way.

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?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People had an important impact for my carrerr view. Here's the overview of the principles:

Be Proactive: Covey emphasizes taking control of your actions and reactions, recognizing that you have the power to choose how you respond to external stimuli.

Begin with the End in Mind: This habit encourages individuals to set clear, long-term goals and a personal mission statement to guide their actions and decisions.

Put First Things First: Prioritization is key, and this habit encourages you to focus on the most important and value-driven tasks, avoiding distractions and time-wasting activities.

Think Win-Win: Covey promotes a mindset of seeking mutually beneficial solutions in interpersonal interactions, aiming for cooperation rather than competition.

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: Effective communication involves actively listening to others before expressing your own viewpoint, fostering better understanding and empathy.

Synergize: This habit highlights the importance of teamwork and collaboration, where the combined efforts of a group can produce better results than individual efforts.

Sharpen the Saw: To maintain effectiveness in the long term, it's crucial to regularly renew and refresh yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

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

Keep developing yourself and optimize your time and effort.

Sometimes life and carreer could push you through a lot of directions and you could feel exhausted, that's fine rest and come back with all force.

Remember to use your time wisely and work strategicaly and with value ROI (return over investment) oriented prirization.

For example, I observed that my best way to learn is listening, so I use every opportunity possible to listen a book, podcast or material about subjects I wanna master in any given challenge I'm facing.

Don't ever feel afraid about technology, work on risk mitigation and use every possible technology to empowers you in a smarter work with better results.

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

When one my team's engineer was really worried about personal problems this person was facing, and as I keep a close contact with all my reporters, I was able to identify and manage the challenge togheter, assuring his performance in the team through a shared support of the others peers, while the person could solve the pontual problem and come back all force later. Be close and build trust in strategic ways, that's make all difference.

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