May 2 | 05 min read
One of the main growth enablers for us is to have access to the 2nd 3rd and 4th tiers of the leadership team. Now there are more than 60 leaders across Bizom. Some of them have teams and some are subject matter experts. We at Bizom, want everyone to be a leader and with that in mind, I am sharing some of the things I learned as a leader. Sometimes I learned the hard way by making those mistakes myself. Hope none of our other leaders make the same mistakes. If you are currently not leading a team/initiative, you can still help by working with your leader and helping them become a better leader.
As a leader, it’s a must that you delegate the work as much as you can. This way, you have more time for handling escalations or building career paths for your teams or working on organizational growth. The important thing to remember is that while you can delegate work, you can never delegate responsibilities (more on that later).
In the year 2015, I was heading sales, r&d, and strategy. Vasu would share some load of R&D leadership, especially for mobile application development. While with the best intentions, I was a very poor leader. I would expect my teams to work and behave the same way as I did. This would put teams under immense pressure and we suffered huge attrition across teams. This became so bad that we had only 3 people left in Engineering. At that time, we took a bold decision to hire someone senior externally to head engineering. When we interviewed Nikhil, he clearly told us that he will not write code as head of engineering. This was a huge culture shock for us. At that time, even I was actively writing code in Bizom. In spite of that, we were very impressed by the overall approach Nikhil had towards engineering and team building. We decided to hire Nikhil as a way for us to learn team-building and rest as we say is history.
Lesson learned, do not wait too long to delegate. The next team member may not follow the same methods as you, her methods may be better. Learn to delegate quickly enough don’t wait till the problem is out of hand.
We have a tendency to cling to our methods/ways of working even once we hand over our work to someone else. We tend to keep finding mistakes in other people’s ways of working. As a leader, it’s dangerous and hugely counterproductive.
In 2020, I finally realized that Krishna can lead our Sales team better than I, and hence I should move out of sales and purely focus on strategy and growth as the CEO. Once I moved out of Sales, Krishna changed certain policies especially by putting more focus on new logo acquisition or hunting. I was unsure, I felt it could dilute our focus on farming. Krishna kept assuring me that it was not the case. Eventually, with Krishna’s methods, we kept growing our revenues for 6 consecutive quarters and even turned profitable in the majority of them. Last quarter was the largest we ever had by far with huge growth in spite of the 3rd wave !!
Lesson learned: Once you delegate, try and curb your urge to force your ways on how to do certain things. Let the team member handle things the way she wants to. Give the new person more space to implement her ideas.
This is a very very important one. As I mentioned above, “you can delegate work but can never delegate responsibilities”. This means if your team members end up making mistake, it’s still your mistake and you need to protect that person in front of the external world.
While I personally do not remember doing it, I remember some of my corporate colleagues who would put their team members under the bus for protecting their own skin.
When shit hits the roof, the only question should be how do we fix it rather than whom to blame. After the situation is controlled, we can learn how to avoid it from happening in the future, and if someone is to be blamed, it’s typically the leader for not preempting it and having a backup plan in place earlier. The buck eventually stops with me.
While these are some of the common mistakes we do, there are some things we do incredibly well and we should keep doing more of them.
We are very liberal in terms of leadership, Anyone with ambition can be a leader. More often than not we provide ample freedom to the leader or even individual contributors to execute tasks as she wishes.
The struggle of learning is essential for us to become better at what we do. As a company, we believe in learning rather than teaching. This means we will typically not give direct answers to our team members but more hints, directions, or guidelines for them to explore and find answers themselves. This way, the learnings are remembered for a lifetime.
As a leader, the focus always has to be on explaining or writing down the “Why” of everything in as much detail as possible. A leader should create an environment to allow the team to come up with “What” needs to be done to achieve the “why”. Ideal leader in Bizom stays away from explaining the “how”. We hire professionals and we expect them to know their jobs well enough to figure out “how” to do their jobs.
While all of this may sound good on paper, real leadership and teams emerge with a lot of open debates and discussions. If you are not already doing so, please bring about your point of view on what our leadership at all levels should do better for us to grow faster.
Lots of love,