Women CEOs speak about leadership and what it means to them.
Leadership is about being a leader every day as you learn, lead by example and also stumble, fall, stand up, and continue to run. How do you lead effectively every day, and what style of leadership do you subscribe to?
We asked women entrepreneurs how they approached the question as CEOs and leaders.
Here is what we discovered:
Kalyani Khona, CEO & Co-founder of Inclov
I let my team do their own thing, set their own targets and chalk out a plan to help them achieve it monthly. This brings the highest level of accountability and ownership in our organisation (no matter an intern or a CTO). This also allows me to focus on my own projects and not get too micro-managerial. I sit with the team members once a month to take an account of their projects. So yeah, no meeting culture has helped fuel our growth so far - we are a 10 people team.
When someone says “leadership”, we immediately tend to see it as the responsibility of the CEO or Senior Executives at the helm of a company. For me, leadership is about coaching, training and empowering each member of my team to take their decisions and own them. These are decisions that are taken on a day-to-day basis, every moment, "#Everyday#Everymoment" Leadership!
In our line of business, any amount of planning is not enough to counter the uncertainties and challenges that the business throws at us each day. So each day starts with the thought of being adaptable and agile. Once I enter the office, the first thing I do is to start participating in the activities my team has already started. The first level of leaders in our company are well equipped to handle new employee training and coaching. So while they think of today, I focus my energies on tomorrow (vision). My workforce defines the quality of the product we ship, so emotional connect with every team member is the key to success. This helps us embrace mistakes and build resilience in the team. Every small step is measured by the company. In fact we have gamified the activities so employees take an active participation in measuring everything so that we can improve on those the next day
Anyone can become an everyday leader because leadership is doing the right thing and taking calls on a day to day basis. It’s all about doing your best and bringing out the best in others. Everyone around us is a leader in their own right.
Leading by example is definitely the way I admire and follow. A never give up attitude, because if there is a problem there has to be a solution. I believe If I can do something, my team can definitely do it. Role model leadership, motivation, appreciation, positivity, sharing experiences of failure and improvement are the ways that I try to practise with my team . As a leader, you are the face of the company and the values that you follow and inculcate would create your company culture. That's leadership for me.
Everyday, my endeavour is to balance between traditional and community leadership as I gravitate more towards the latter. One of the most effective things has been leading with compassion along with walking the talk and fostering the culture of executing with ownership and freedom. Compassion has helped me identify, motivate, and bring out the best in people.
As a leader, it is important to keep the focus on your personal health - both mental and physical. It is important to trust in your people and their abilities. Delegating as much as possible and giving everyone an opportunity is the way to get the best out of them. This brings a sense of new learnings, responsibility, empowerment and a culture of fun and nurturing and while doing this, you still hold the spine of the entire system and supporting it.
Swathi Bavanaka, Co-founder & COO, Evibe.in
I believe in total leadership which ensures work life integration across four domains - self, work, family, and community. I define all the roles and goals for the entire week, which makes everyday execution easy. For my startup, three key daily activities are - reinforce our vision, ensure we are in the right direction and provide the necessary guidance, implement daily reflections to derive principles that helps us constantly improve ourselves.
I believe in the age-old principle of leading by example. It is important for any person at the helm of affairs of any organisation to set an example and inspire others to push themselves to achieve greatness. By taking action, demonstrating what needs to be done, and keeping my team organised, I ensure that the work is completed to the best of our abilities. Another important quality I incorporate into my style of leadership is communication. Open communication makes sure that we are all on the same page with everyone contributing equally. This brings out the best in every team member. Delegation is another important quality of a good leader. Although I do still fight the urge to manage all tasks single handed, it is important to have a good team to fall back on. I play to my team members' strengths when delegating work and give each person a chance to do what they are best at. I've found this style of leadership is what delivers the best results.
Persistence, Perseverance and Permanence are the three Ps I follow for being a leader every day. Irrespective of how the path is, constant belief in work that you do, pushing boundaries to always do it with the same passion makes you a good leader and therefore you lead by example.
You become the source of energy and optimism for the team. Teams look up to you and become motivated, resulting in high energy, and greater performance.
What does leadership mean to you? How do you define the path you follow? What according to you makes a good leader? Tell us in the comments section below.