Actions That Create Meaningful Connections
5 Questions with Phyllis Sarkaria
1-Tell us about yourself!
I am a master certified executive coach, management consultant, author, and former corporate executive, but those titles don’t really tell you who I am. And like most people, I bring all my experiences, interests, and connections to my work. My most important roles in life are wife, grandmother who was never a mother (can you figure that out?!), and dog mom. My husband would probably say ‘not necessarily in that order of priority’ ;-). I am a person of faith and a life-long learner who is passionate about illuminating how others can achieve their best. I enjoy active travel and discovering new places, taking lots of photographs, and connecting with others through the sharing of food, wine, and stories.
2-What are you currently reading?
I read a lot, which may be apparent to anyone following my LinkedIn posts. In addition to a wide variety of articles and research studies about leadership, I’m reading two books right now. I really enjoy memoirs and am about halfway through a memoir by Karen Piper called A Girl’s Guide to Missiles. It is a story of growing up in a remote, top-secret missile facility in the California desert. I’m also rereading Peter Drucker’s short but brilliant work, Managing Oneself, which includes a number of questions to gain greater self-awareness. Drucker emphasizes the need to take responsibility for how you communicate with others and continually seek feedback to learn and grow. Those are two themes that really resonate with me.
3-Who has been the most influential person in your career?
This is a tough one to answer because so many people have made a difference in my life and career. I’ve learned a lot from both good and bad leaders over the years. Perhaps the most influential was someone I worked for almost 20 years ago. Fred John is one of the best leaders I’ve encountered. I mentioned him in Courageous Clarity because he embodied so many attributes of effective leadership, even when navigating very political and polarized work dynamics. Fred made open communication a priority with his team. He modeled strong listening skills. He supported the success of those working for him, was happy to brainstorm solutions around the most challenging issues and made sure team members were recognized for their contributions. While he was demanding in terms of performance, Fred created an environment where information was freely shared and ideas thrived, and when it came time for me to move on to a different role, he was supportive rather than trying to convince me to stay. His example of leadership was an inspiration to me. What I learned from Fred influenced me as a leader, and I believe it also contributed to my career success.
4-How did you learn about Mentessa?
I occasionally volunteer as an executive coach for NASDAQ and was matched with Tina Ruseva when she went through the NASDAQ Milestone Makers program. Coaching Tina was a delight. I love her curiosity, positive energy, and determination to create change. I've continued to follow the work she is doing as Mentessa grows. It is an inspiration to see your influence on the world of work.
5-What trends do you foresee for leadership in 2023?
Here are three evolving trends I anticipate as we move into the New Year:
- The most effective leaders will continue to develop self-awareness, practice empathy, demonstrate compassion, express appreciation, and care for themselves and their people. These behaviors may seem simple, but they are not easy, particularly in dynamic, challenging times such as these. Intention and attention are necessary to do this well.
- Ongoing inflation and economic turmoil will be increasingly disruptive to organizations and to individuals. Producing results can be challenging in the best of times. As uncertainty increases, those who fall back on cost-cutting and other survival mechanisms may see short-term gains but will not thrive in the long run. Leaders who are able to motivate their teams to think creatively and collaboratively will be more likely to overcome whatever the future brings our way.
- Related to that is the need to encourage workers to learn and grow. Development opportunities don’t have to be costly. Something as simple as assigning people to projects that stretch them and allow them to play to their strengths can generate tremendous benefits. The key is knowing your people, their strengths, abilities, interests, and dreams. I think we’ll see more creative thinking around learning and development as leaders seek to inspire and engage while still managing overall organizational costs.
If you are curious about the topic of "Courageous Clarity", you can watch our webinar session with Phyllis Sarkaria here.