Name: Shakay Sitaram
Title: Executive Client Care Concierge
A skilled professional with a strong B2B/ B2C Sales, Customer Experience, IT, and Digital Marketing background. Always eager to learn and grow
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Shakay's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
As a leader, I have found that one of the most challenging aspects for me is balancing the needs and expectations of different team members. I believe each person has their own unique strengths, weaknesses, and communication styles, so finding the right approach to motivate and guide everyone can be a delicate task. It does require adaptability, active listening, and empathy to ensure that each member feels valued and supported. Still, overcoming these challenges can lead to a more cohesive and productive team dynamic.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I didn't become one I was born one, haha. I grew up in a household with both parents who liked to delegate and create solutions for problems that arise and they did so well. I have however started leading from a younger age, I believe that being a leader is not just telling others what to do but also giving others the room to voice their opinions and take away from them. In the real work world that journey for me started when I joined a small team at my previous company, I am always passionate about my work and I will always go above and beyond to help my colleagues. Over time, my dedication and willingness to take on different responsibilities caught the attention of my superiors. They recognized my leadership potential and then allowed me to lead small projects and initiatives. I embraced these opportunities and focused on building strong relationships with my team members, fostering open communication, and providing guidance and support whenever needed. Through continuous learning and development, I was able to grow into a leadership role and make a positive impact on the team. It was a journey of growth, challenges, learning, and experiences, but ultimately it allowed me to become the leader I am today.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I start my mornings at 7 am, with a 5 minute prayer and listen to motivational videos for 10 minutes to get me pumped for the day.
I then move to a healthy breakfast with a 30-minute workout to get my energy flowing. I then review my schedule and prioritize my tasks for the day using my to-do list that's how I stay organized.
During the day, I work on those tasks taking short breaks in between to recharge my body and stay focused. I always start with the most challenging tasks while my energy is high.
I also make time for any team meetings I may have, reach out to my colleagues, and complete any necessary communication this is important for me as I like to build a balance between individual work and teamwork.
As my day comes to a close, I warp up any unfinished tasks, review my progress, and plan my schedule for the next day. I also find it very helpful to reflect on my accomplishments and set goals for the following day.
In the evening I then make time for my self-care and relax. I enjoy spending that time with my daughter and catching up on a good book. Also, getting my sleep is very important to me, so I try to establish a bedtime routine that helps me wind down and prepare for a restful sleep.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Recently, I was reminded of the importance of active listening as a leader. It's easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and ideas, but truly listening to others is crucial for effective leadership. By actively listening, we can understand different perspectives, build stringer relationships, and make informed decisions. It's a valuable lesson that I strive to apply in my leadership journey.
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?
That book would be The 5 Roles of leadership by Wladislaw Jachtchenko.
Funny enough the story behind this, I used to have a communication problem, I used to stutter when I had something to say or I would just completely forget what to say or get nervous in front of the crowd and then lose all words.
The book speaks bout the 5 roles of leadership, the tools, and best practices for personable and effective leaders. The convincing communicator, Manager, Team Leader, Psychologist, Problem Solver.
It speaks firstly about the different types of listening and how to use each effectively. My biggest takeaway from the book was he suggested you do a 3-minute video of yourself giving a speech rewatch it and listen to the words and that helped me drastically. It also teaches me to use my body language to help me bring across my message. Also, if I have multiple points in my speech, count through those points on my finger, and when I weigh something make a movement with my head like a scale. If you want to specify something, then draw a dot in the air. If you want the audience to pay attention raise your index finger. I practiced these tips for weeks and tried them in my coaching and team meetings and the results were great, I sounded more confident and clear and I always capture the attention of my team mates.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
My advice would be, to be open, be coachable, have an eagle mindset, and always do the right thing even when no one else is doing it because you never know who's watching. More importantly, embrace continuous learning. As a leader, there is always room to grow and develop your skills. Seek out opportunities whether it's through books, courses, or mentorship. Stay open to new ideas, and never stop expanding your knowledge. Remember the more you learn, the more you can bring to the table as a leader.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I did have the opportunity to mentor a team member of mine from a while back who was always doubtful of his work no matter the results.
He was always hesitant to take on new tasks and lacked confidence in his skills. I decided to do a one-on-one session with him to better understand his concerns and provide guidance. I shared with him my own experience of self doubt and how i overcame it. We then discussed strategies to build his confidence, set achievable goals, and celebrate his success along the way. Over time, I saw him starting to grow and flourish, taking on more responsibilities and becoming a valuable asset to the team. I was happy to be a part of his journey and transformation it also reminded me of the power of mentorship and the impact a leader can have on others. I also did recommend some books for him.