Name: Sangharsh Sapre
Title: Manging Partner and Consultant
A versatile professional having over 30 years of global experience in Software Product Development, Data Analytics & Business Intelligence, Strategy Consulting, Delivery & Operations Management, Program Management, Revenue/Cost Management, Business Development, Sales Operations, Mentoring & Coaching and Training Program Development
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Sangharsh's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Amongst many others, communication is a top priority and second on the list is establishing and earning trust of members of the team. Both take time and effort and one has to develop capability to listen. Each time with different sets of people one has to customize and devise their own ways of communicating and once you get/deliver a response/ outcome, gradually trust starts building . One has to continue to work on it all the time. The next challenge is to align focus on execution - it helps turn strategies/plans into reality.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I really do not know when and how, but I believe it is a combination of situation & opportunity. I had the privilege of gaining trust of a team that was struggling with an issue in a complicated setup where real-time flow of data was needed across a modern ERP, a legacy system on aging mainframe. I happen to listen to conversations of somewhat annoyed team members during a coffee break and I asked if I could give it a try workout something ..I guess they were desperate to try anything ..they allowed me in and a bit apprehensively gave some time to respond to my queries about their problem .I was able to demonstrate a proof of concept that was accepted as a solution... and there it struck me that the groups of people in those teams , although chatted, connected over coffee, smoking break etc but seldom communicated across and shared problems ... that event gave me the courage to speak up and I realized one thing ... it’s important to communicate and understand pain points, does not matter if you have a solution or not, but if you have understood the problem chances are you will be articulate it as well and reach out to those who can provide solution.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Day starts in morning after a decent night's sleep with personal hygiene, walk, exercise, shower, meditation and prayer followed by breakfast and a glance of newspaper. This follows a short planning session for the day where I try to plan for not more than 3 hrs of work-related activities, which include review and update of to-do list, plan tasks for the day and identify priorities .
Begin work day by reflecting for first 10-15 mins on the activities day before and then begin by addressing critical and high-priority tasks. Sometimes reflecting on the previous day gives an opportunity to capture learnings. Around mid-day take a break for about 30 mins - pause work , have lunch and relax watch news headlines, current affairs etc, weather permitting go out for a stroll
Early afternoon post lunch is usually for scheduled meetings and/or reviews with team, collaborative work or tasks that needs interaction with other groups. After a coffee break utilize the afternoon for more focused and individual work that require solitude ,concentration and decision-making .
Check and respond to emails/communication , review progress for the day and make any necessary adjustments to your plan.
Towards the end of the day is usually at a stand up with team to check on progress/status and organizing plan for the next day. The rest of the day/evening is personal time , tending to chores and/or family , listening to music etc.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
There is a famous quote from Mr Ratan Tata - "I don’t believe in taking the right decisions. I take the decision and then make them right." - when I think about its deep and very real. It is better to take a decision with the information at hand rather than being indecisive or waiting for more information - one has to take a decision with available information.
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?
It will be hard to pick up just one book, amongst the many great books I would pick something more contemporary "Born Again on the Mountain" a story of losing everything and finding it back - this is a real-life story of a young Indian woman in her twenties - Ms Arunima Sinha, a national level volley ball player. She lost her leg in a tragic incident but fought back to survive, bid farewell to a sporting career, got an amputee leg, acquired new skills and a couple of years later scaled Mount Everest ! She is the first ever amputee to scale Mount Everest - every page is in inspiration. She has tremendous courage, determination and self-belief that propelled her to the top despite suffering severe monumental loss & pain.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Rather than my own, I would proudly quote eminent scientist and our former President APJ Abdul Kalam - in one of his talks to younger generation he outlined 4 qualities of a leader.
a. A leader should have a vision.
b. Leader should have the passion to pursue the vision
c. Must have courage to own problems and succeed
d. Work with integrity
I try hard to follow on these
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Well, there are a few that I can recall but there was one very difficult meeting at a client location overseas where one of our marquee projects was in trouble. On taking charge, I was greeted by a barrage of complaints and issues about everything that was not going well - almost twenty different department heads and directors came prepared. I along with my 2 other colleagues patiently listened for about 90 minutes jotting every concern and at the end of what seemed like the longest ever 90 mins, I was asked to respond. I was aware and briefed by my team and superiors about the meeting before I walked in- we had a general sense about the magnitude of the pain and problems was the first time I ever heard . without any hesitation I acknowledged and accepted their point of view and did not challenge any of the points put forth, but promised to move forward with improvements - they trusted me and this diffused the tense environments to some extent, the meeting ended on a cordial note with an agreement to come back on an action plan . accepting problem or mistake is first step to work towards a solution - there is no point in blaming the past -that was my takeaway.