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7 Questions on Leadership with Sylvia Baronian

Name: Sylvia Baronian

Title: Manager, Operations and Customer Service

Organisation: IHR Telecom

Married 27 years, mother of 2 girls aged 20 and 24, 2 cats and 1 dog!

After completing a Bachelor degree in Human Resources (1994), I accomplished a Graduate diploma in Management (1996). In 2017, I completed a Master degree in Education, specialized in Leadership.

I have 35 years experience in Customer Service, including over 20 years in Call Centers as Team Leader, Quality Specialist, Training Manager and Operations Manager.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Delivering bad news, while remaining positive and keeping the team motivated.

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

I excelled at my work as a Customer Service Representative, enjoyed sharing my knowledge with others and coach new hires to become excellent CSRs. I often brought ideas to my superiors to increase employee engagement and customer loyalty. Following a restructure of the call center in 2003, I was oftered a Team Leader role.

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

When my alarm goes on, I snooze several times before getting out of bed:) I do not want to rush in the morning. I take my time to get ready. While having breakfast, I review my schedule of the day and look quickly if any urgent messages or emails came in. As I drive to work, I clear my mind by listening to the radio. It is important to me to walk through the office, smile and chat with the employees. I get a cup of coffee, and my work day begins! Some days are filled with meetings and others are filled with working of different projects. No matter how important my tasks are, I am always available for my team members.

As I drive back home, I clear my mind. My dog greets me as I walk in. I check quickly my messages and emails, in case anything came up since I left the office. By then it's time to prepare dinner and eat my family.

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

I was reminded recently the importance of communication. I scheduled skip-one level one-on-one meetings with everyone in the team. I asked to share what is going well and what can we do better. Lack of communication between Supervisors and CSRs was one thing my team needs to improve.

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?

The Coaching Habit, Say Less, Ask More, & Change the Way You Lead Forever, by Michael Bungay Stanier

The seven essential coaching questions are:

- “What’s on your mind?”

- “And what else?”

- “What’s the real challenge here for you?”

- “What do you (really) want (from me)?”

- “How can I help?”

- “If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”

- “What was most useful for you?”

The book reminded me the importance of learning through critical reflexion. It is so easy and quicker to tell others how to do their jobs and answer their questions. When you do so, you are not coaching. Coaching is a conversation. Coaching leads to learning. People learn better when they think.

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

Keep a Reflective Journal. At the end of each day write about your coaching sessions, interactions with others, reactions to situations; how they went and what you can do better next time.

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

My farewell 'virtual party' when I left IKEA. I was there only 1 year as a Leader, and did not realize the positive impact I brought to the team. I helped Team Leaders coach better and I influenced agents to better perform. I was so proud of how everyone evolved during the short time I was there without realizing I was their main influence.

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