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7 Questions on Leadership with Ranjit Aneesh

Name: Ranjit Aneesh

Title: Software Development Manager

Organisation: Amazon

Ranjit is a technology leader who has been in the industry for 20 years. He is currently working at Amazon Web Services. Ranjit believes that the first step towards success is removing self-doubt and grounded in your own capabilities.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Dealing with competing priorities is what I find the most challenging. You have a team that you keep motivated towards the goal. The goal could be a yearly target to deliver. As a leader you have multiple priorities to take into consideration. When your customer and stakeholder expectations change, you may have to pivot to change your strategy. Making sure that the team keeps the faith in you while you may have to change some goals midway is often difficult. Communication is the most ciritical part in these situations.

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

I believe Leadership is a quality rather than a position. You may be a leader and you may not even know because you have not identified your calling. I realized I am a leader when I started to like what I do and started influencing and helping others be better versions of themselves in their work. I like technology and thus it was natural for me to get better in my field. I was also always learning and this was the key to my success as a leader.

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

I try to compress my meeting as close to each other as possible. This way I get more focussed time without distraction later in the day. I use my focussed time for immediate priorities and come up with my plans during this time. I also reach out to people in my team and stakeholders to brainstorm ideas and get their perspective. I try to exercise at the end of my day when it is possible and spend time with my family.

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

As a leader one of my job is to demand and facilitate excellence. I recently realized that I get joy when my team achieves success, but what made me take pride in my accomplishment is when I am able to make my team work without me being around but with the values and strategies that I helped imbibe in them. When you reach that inflection point, you leave a mark in your team. They will remember you long after you are gone everytime they follow what you taught them.

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?

Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch. Jack is a legend in management. Jack was able to change GE because he had innate understanding of the business and technology. He helped me realize that to be great in something you should have an intimate relationship with your job. You should be passionate and driven to succeed. This will help you focus on your learning and in all circumstances when you have to choose to do that extra mile to succeed by habit.

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

Always focus on learning. You cannot grow without reflecting in your own capabilities and working on your shortcomings. There is a thin line between realizing your gaps and working on them versus self doubt. Remember when you have to choose between a confident but not so knowledgeable versus a self doubting but highly knowledgeable, it will always pay to choose the super confident. Be that supper confident leader.

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

One meaningful story that comes to my mind happened in one of my challenging projects. The team was working on a project and had spent significant amount of time with little results. The team realized that some of the fundamental assumptions towards achieving the project's success were not correct. One of the team members proposed a totally new radical idea which meant that we discard a significant part of the work done till now and move afresh. I took the decision to go with the proposed idea which eventually led to grand success for the project. What I learnt from the process was that it is Ok to start afresh when the stakes are high but you want to achieve excellence. Trying to salvage a weak foundation will in the long run give you more heart burn. I also experienced first hand that taking fresh ideas from talented individuals is what drives success. I firmly believe that creating a A small team will take you farther in your goals.

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