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7 Questions on Leadership with Hamid Salamat

Name: Hamid Salamat

Title: Senior Network/Security Architect

Organisation: Agriculture Bank of IRAN ( BKI)

A Lead Network Engineer and Architect with a proven record of orchestrating optimal user experiences and intricate system architectures within expansive distributed network ecosystems. With more than 16 years in the industry

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

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


Jonno White

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

The most crucial aspect of effective leadership, in my view, is the ability to swiftly and accurately comprehend team members' cognitive abilities, emotions, and experiences. This comprehensive understanding encompasses grasping their decision-making processes, emotional expression, and emotional triggers, as well as empathizing with their feelings.

Navigating the intricate world of human minds and emotions is a demanding responsibility for leaders. By gaining a deep understanding of their team members' strengths, weaknesses, and emotional landscapes, leaders can effectively guide them towards achieving team goals and fostering individual growth while minimizing setbacks.

This understanding empowers leaders to make informed decisions and communicate them in a manner that resonates with the team, fostering cooperation and minimizing resistance. While leadership techniques, domain expertise, and exceptional communication and negotiation skills are undoubtedly essential, the ability to connect with team members on a deeper level is the cornerstone of successful leadership.

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

My initial exposure to successful leadership in a professional setting occurred during my early months at Iran Agricultural Bank. The bank's IT department was embarking on an ambitious project to establish a single Active Directory Forest system spanning the entire country, encompassing approximately 35 Child Domains. Due to my relevant experience and expertise, I was recruited to join the team.

Despite my limited tenure at the bank, my prior experience in the field, effective communication skills, strong teaching abilities, and keen understanding of my teammates' technical and emotional needs quickly propelled me to the unofficial role of team leader. Despite having a project manager with IT expertise on the team, I navigated the situation to maintain their position while simultaneously guiding the team towards their shared objective.

This project stands as one of the most successful initiatives of its scale and complexity in Iran, achieving remarkable success during both the design and implementation phases. The Iran Agricultural Bank's IT team's execution of this project has long been recognized as an exemplary model for IT project implementation.

Beyond enhancing my ability to foster effective collaborations and expanding my technical knowledge and that of my teammates, this experience forged unbreakable bonds between team members. These friendships have endured the test of time, remaining strong even after many years have passed since the project's completion.

Spanning three years and involving over 30 missions to various Iranian provinces, the project surpassed its initial goals. Leveraging the existing technical capabilities and human resources within the team, we successfully unified the architectural structure of all managements across physical, infrastructural, and service domains. This achievement not only enhanced Iran Agricultural Bank's service delivery but also laid a solid foundation for future advancements.

While I had gained experience leading work groups and friendship circles both before and after this project, none had a more profound impact on shaping my leadership skills. The experience instilled in me the confidence and drive to excel in leadership roles, both professionally and personally.

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

While I don't adhere to a rigid schedule, my daily routine typically includes:

• Physical activity to maintain my physical well-being

• Dedicating time to nurture relationships with loved ones to maintain a healthy work-life balance

• Exploring advancements in technology and captivating subjects beyond my area of expertise to broaden my knowledge

• Structuring my day and prioritizing tasks to enhance productivity

• Engaging with colleagues in informal conversations to foster positive connections

• Monitoring progress and addressing obstacles in achieving team objectives to ensure success

• Guiding and supporting team members in their pursuit of personal goals to contribute to their growth

• Delving into specialized literature related to my profession and behavior to deepen my understanding

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

One of the most important leadership tips that I always find interesting and that is reminded to me in different situations is that Effective leadership is not about infallibility; it's about recognizing and addressing missteps. When a leader acknowledges a wrong decision and actively seeks input from their team, they foster a culture of trust, open communication, and collective problem-solving. This approach yields several benefits:

• Strengthened Trust

By admitting mistakes, leaders demonstrate humility and transparency, building trust among team members. This trust empowers individuals to feel valued and respected, fostering a more cohesive and engaged team.

• Normalized Mistakes

Acknowledging missteps normalizes the human experience of error, reducing the stigma associated with making mistakes. This encourages team members to openly share their concerns and seek guidance without fear of judgment, fostering a more collaborative and supportive environment.

• Courageous Accountability

Leaders who embrace their mistakes inspire others to do the same. Team members become more willing to admit their own errors, fostering a culture of accountability that promotes continuous improvement and learning.

• Collaborative Problem-Solving

By seeking input from their team, leaders tap into a collective pool of knowledge and perspectives, leading to more effective and well-rounded solutions. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of ownership and shared responsibility among team members.

• Learning from Errors

Mistakes serve as valuable learning opportunities. By openly discussing and analyzing missteps, leaders and team members can identify areas for improvement and prevent similar errors from recurring.

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 response to this question, I would like to mention the specific chapters from these books:

• 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

o Habit 3: Put first things first

o Habit 4: Think Win/Win

o Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

• Leadership and Self-Deception

o People or objects

• The Lean Startup

o Start

o Define

o Learn

o Innovate


o When things fall apart

o Take care of the people, the products, and the profits

o How to lead even when you don't know where you are going

Remember, leadership is not solely about reading books; it's about applying these insights and strategies to real-world situations, driven by a genuine desire to solve problems and make a positive impact.

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

At the heart of effective leadership, young or seasoned, lies the fundamental understanding that your team members are individuals with their own unique set of emotions, aspirations, and concerns. Just as you have hopes, fears, and aspirations, so do they. Approach them with empathy and understanding, treating them with the same respect and compassion you would hope to receive. By acknowledging and valuing their humanity, you cultivate a supportive and productive work environment where individuals feel valued and empowered to contribute their unique strengths.

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

Last year, when a crucial mid-level manager in the switching department unexpectedly departed, I was thrust into the leadership position of a sizable project team tasked with revamping the data center network architecture. The situation was rife with challenges:

• The team was in a state of flux and harboring numerous concerns due to the abrupt departure of their project leader.

• A significant portion of the project-related equipment had already been procured.

• Shifts in the company's requirements necessitated revisions to the existing plan.

• The entire range of acquired equipment had to be integrated into the revised plan.

• Despite having previously worked in data center switching, my knowledge in this area was outdated as I had recently focused on security.

• The client company was exerting considerable pressure on us to present the revised plan promptly.

In the face of these formidable obstacles, I stepped up to lead the project to prevent further complications. Simultaneously, I embarked on a multi-pronged approach:

• I engaged in open communication with the existing project members, attentively listening to their technical and non-technical concerns.

• With the consent of the respective direct managers, I sought out and recruited competent individuals from other company departments who possessed expertise in the relevant field, temporarily augmenting the project team.

• I meticulously reviewed a list of specialized consultants in the field and carefully selected a highly qualified consulting team.

• I immersed myself in studying data center networking, familiarizing myself with the latest advancements in the field.

To ensure efficient project execution, I divided the work into distinct phases and assigned specific tasks to individual team members:

• Conduct a comprehensive review of the purchased equipment, including a thorough assessment of all equipment functionalities.

• Perform a detailed analysis of the client's past and present data center network architecture needs.

• Scrutinize the team's previously presented plan, identifying instances where client requirements were overlooked.

• Evaluate newly proposed solutions to ensure they fully address the client's current and evolving needs.

• Facilitate presentations of the proposed solutions by group members to the entire team, resolving any discrepancies.

• Present the finalized solutions selected by the group to the consulting team for additional feedback.

• Organize multiple meetings with project stakeholders to provide clarity on the situation and present the proposed solutions.

• Throughout the process, I maintained direct communication with all team members, ensuring that each step was executed in the correct sequence and aligned with the overall objective.

Under the weight of intense work pressure, time constraints, and restrictions on utilizing the procured equipment, certain team members exhibited signs of distress, including:

• Feelings of despair

• Uncertainty regarding project goals

• Distrust of fellow team members

• Pursuit of personal goals that conflicted with the overarching project objectives

• Doubts about my technical expertise

In response to these challenges, I tailored specific solutions to each issue. Ultimately, we successfully presented a plan that not only fulfilled all client requirements but also optimized the utilization of the acquired equipment. Notably, new licenses were procured for certain equipment, and the purchase of four additional pieces of equipment was recommended.

The most rewarding aspect of this project was its timely completion and the fostering of a strong bond of friendship and trust among all team members.

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