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7 Questions on Leadership with Rojalin Mishra

Name: Rojalin Mishra

Title: Scrum Master

Organisation: ANZ Bank

Passionate Agile team management expert, Adept in diverse Agile methodologies, DevOps practices.

Beyond tech, a multifaceted individual excelling as a co-author of two novels, aspiring poet, voice artist, anchor, live performer, and live painting showcase artist.

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

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


Jonno White

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

The most profound challenge I've faced in my leadership journey stems from the transformative path I undertook—from a dedicated software engineer to embracing the role of a Scrum Master and Agile expert. This transition wasn't merely a professional evolution but a personal odyssey marked by continuous learning and overcoming hurdles.

The challenge lay not only in mastering the principles of Agile but in reshaping my mindset and leadership approach. I invested considerable effort in extensive study, absorbing the nuances of Agile methodologies, and honing the necessary skills. Yet, the true challenge was navigating the intangible realm of leadership—the intricate dance of guiding a team without explicit authority.

The hurdles I faced, the late nights spent studying, and the emotional toll of adapting to a new role—all have been integral to my growth. Each challenge has sculpted me into a leader who not only comprehends the intricacies of Agile but approaches leadership with a genuine understanding of the human aspect, leading with both skill and heart.

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

My journey into leadership is a tapestry woven with determination, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to growth. Starting as a software engineer, I developed a passion for understanding the intricate dance of code. However, the desire for broader impact led me to explore Agile methodologies.

The transition to becoming a Scrum Master wasn't a mere career pivot; it was a transformation of my mindset and approach to leadership. I embarked on a rigorous study path, diving into the depths of Agile principles and methodologies. This wasn't just about mastering a skill set; it was about evolving as a leader capable of steering teams through the complexities of software development.

The challenges were manifold. From skepticism about my transition from a technical role to a leadership one, to the emotional weight of fostering collaboration without explicit authority, each obstacle was an opportunity for growth. Late nights were spent absorbing the intricacies of Agile, and each setback became a lesson in resilience.

What truly shaped my journey were the moments of self-doubt. Wondering if I was equipped to inspire change, questioning my ability to lead a team through the nuances of Agile methodologies—it was a profoundly personal odyssey. Yet, through this vulnerability, I found strength. Leadership, for me, became a fusion of technical expertise and a deep understanding of the human aspect, leading with empathy and determination.

In essence, my path to leadership is a narrative of continuous learning, overcoming doubts, and embracing the challenges that have, ultimately, defined not just my career but the leader I've become.

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

My approach to structuring my work days is a blend of discipline, adaptability, and a commitment to continuous improvement. I start my day early, drawing inspiration from my background as a software engineer who knows the value of a quiet morning for focused work.

Mornings are dedicated to strategic planning and personal development. I carve out time to stay current with industry trends, deepen my understanding of Agile methodologies, and reflect on any challenges that need innovative solutions. This quiet, introspective time sets a positive tone for the day ahead.

As a Scrum Master, my afternoons are often dynamic and people-centric. I allocate time for collaborative meetings, one-on-ones with team members, and addressing any impediments. I thrive on the energy of these interactions and find that it's during these moments that the true spirit of Agile comes to life.

Evenings are reserved for reflection and preparation for the next day. I review progress, assess any adjustments needed in our Agile processes, and ensure that everyone is aligned on the sprint goals. It's also a time for personal growth—reading, taking online courses, or engaging in activities that keep me inspired.

As the night unfolds, I delve into the pages of poetry and immerse myself in the joy of creation. Balancing the structured world of Agile with the boundless landscapes of creativity, my workdays are not just a routine—they're a symphony where leadership and artistry harmonize, creating a rhythm that resonates with both my professional and personal passions.

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

Recently, I've been reminded of the profound impact of vulnerability in leadership. As a Scrum Master navigating the transition from a software engineer, I've always valued transparency, but a recent experience illuminated the true power of sharing vulnerabilities.

In a challenging sprint, I openly acknowledged my uncertainties and sought input from the team. The response was remarkable—team members stepped up with ideas and support, fostering a collaborative spirit. It taught me that vulnerability isn't a weakness; it's a catalyst for trust and collective problem-solving. As a leader, embracing vulnerability doesn't diminish authority; it amplifies connection and empowers the team to shine in adversity.

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 has been a guiding light in my leadership journey is 'Leaders Eat Last' by Simon Sinek. Transitioning from a software engineer to a Scrum Master, the book unfolded a transformative narrative of leadership anchored in empathy and selflessness.

Sinek's storytelling illuminated the profound impact of leaders who prioritize the well-being of their teams. This struck a deep chord within me. It wasn't just about mastering Agile methodologies; it was about understanding the human aspect of leadership.

The lessons from 'Leaders Eat Last' prompted a significant shift in my approach. I began placing a premium on building trust, fostering a sense of belonging, and championing the collective success of the team. This shift not only reshaped my leadership style but also breathed life into the Agile principles we embraced.

The book's wisdom became a compass, guiding me through the intricacies of team dynamics and emphasizing that true leadership is about serving others. Today, as a Scrum Master, I carry the profound insights from 'Leaders Eat Last' in every meeting, every decision, and every interaction, creating a workplace culture that thrives on trust, collaboration, and shared success.

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

If I could distill a lifetime of leadership lessons into one piece of advice for a young leader, it would be this: Embrace the power of continuous learning and resilience. As a Scrum Master, my journey from a software engineer involved countless challenges, but each obstacle became a stepping stone for growth.

Never underestimate the value of resilience. Embrace setbacks as opportunities to learn and evolve. The Agile landscape, much like leadership, is dynamic and ever-changing. Study hard, stay curious, and be adaptable. Embrace challenges not as roadblocks but as invitations to become a better version of yourself.

And remember, leadership is not a solitary journey. Cultivate empathy, listen deeply, and lead with a genuine desire to serve and uplift those around you. In the world of Agile, success is a collective effort, and the bonds you forge within your team are the most valuable assets. So, my advice would be to stay humble, stay hungry for knowledge, and, above all, stay resilient. Your journey as a leader is a marathon, not a sprint, and every step forward, no matter how small, contributes to the meaningful impact you'll make.

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

One deeply meaningful story that resonates from my journey as a leader involves a pivotal moment during a challenging sprint. As a Scrum Master, transitioning from a software engineer, the hurdles were not just in mastering Agile methodologies but in nurturing a resilient team spirit.

In the face of unexpected setbacks, the team rallied together. Instead of blaming, there was shared accountability, and every member displayed a remarkable level of commitment. What unfolded was not just the successful completion of a sprint but a testament to the strength of a team united by a common purpose.

This experience taught me that true leadership is not just about navigating processes; it's about fostering a culture where individuals thrive collectively. The challenges I faced, the late nights spent studying, and the emotional toll of the transition—all became worthwhile in that moment of shared triumph. It affirmed that the heart of effective leadership lies in building a community where each member feels valued, supported, and empowered to overcome any challenge that comes our way.

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