I look back on my journey and I think about all the different stages when women have played a crucial role in my life. Women are always inspiring us, often in ways we fail to realize and understand. There are many values and traits that we can learn from women to become better leaders that have helped me in my career.
I dedicate this blog post to 6 incredible women I have known and the inspiring lessons they have taught me. So, what have I learnt?
Don’t fear, stick to your values
I was preparing for a sports event, and unfortunately, I ended up breaking the racket. As expected, I was summoned to the principal’s office. Fearing his wrath, I just stood there, a mute spectator while my friend owned up to what we had done. My mom, Rajam, sat me down, and explained why it was important to face fears, own up to my actions, and never give up on my values. A lesson that has stayed with me and helped me in good stead ever since.
You will do well in what you love
While I was in school one day, I was squirming in the biology lab, absolutely not up to performing the dissection I had to. Being a vegetarian, the dissection was even more traumatic to me. Seetha Ramakrishnan, my biology teacher, sensed my uneasiness and took me to a hospital. She showed me the doctors and taught me about the far-reaching impact I could have, if I excelled in what I needed to do. And I also understood that to do well and excel, you really need to love what you do!
Empowerment goes together with accountability
I learnt this from Julie Kownacki, my first manager. Those were the days when I was a happy coder, liked what I was doing, and doing reasonably well too. So, when it was time for appraisals, I was expecting a good one. But when I got my score, it was too low, and I went up to have a word with my manager. That’s when she taught me, that I scored low because I was doing what I had to with no accountability. I had no idea of where my work fitted in and how it eventually helped. If I wanted the power, I would need to take responsibility.
Observe yourself, play to your strengths
More often than not, we always focus on our weaknesses, constantly endeavoring to get better at what we are not. And while there is no harm in doing that, what happens is that we miss out on identifying our strengths and utilizing them to their fullest potential. When I was working in a start-up environment, I always saw myself as playing a more technical role and not so much a leadership one. But Olivia Dillan, my best manager, helped me realize how I was unconsciously already being a leader, solving my peers’ problems, and doing it effectively too. This was a turning point that got me onto the path towards leadership.
Believe in yourself, you wouldn’t have come so far otherwise
When the dot com bubble burst, and I thought I had lost it all, it was my wife’s words that kept me going. Without so much as a hint of doubt, Geetha told me, that if I did not have it in me, I would not have even come this far. She made sure I believed in myself and it’s probably the main reason why I continued my journey forward.
Stay calm and strong through the storm
I was on a vacation with my family, and while we were returning, my daughter mentioned a medical problem that had been troubling her throughout the trip. The protective father in me immediately came to fore, and I asked why she never mentioned it before. Her simple reply was that she didn’t because she didn’t want me to get worried and scrap all plans. And in spite of all the wisdom, courtesy my age and experience, nothing could beat the feeling of learning a valuable lesson from my daughter. She had shown me how important it was to stay calm through a storm!
Can you recount any important lessons you learnt from the women in your life? Do share them in your comments. I’m all ears for inspiring stories!