Well, actually, I have an interesting story to share about the leadership journey.
I was always the class leader or class monitor growing up in school. In grade three, I made a list of all the students who were speaking in Telugu and not an English at school with a huge sense of pride. I went and complained about this to my teacher! It took me many years to realize that leadership is not enforcing rules but empowering people. But I think that incident that stayed in my mind. It's because all the kids got punished. Nobody sat them down and motivated them to speak in English. They just got punished. And I think I didn't like it.
But we didn't have that perspective when I was seven years old to see how I can be a better leader. I keep going back to that incident these days as a leader. I keep thinking, Am I enforcing rules? Am I empowering people? And that incident in my life sort of helps me stay on the right track.
One more advice I would give is to listen to people. Listen from a place of curiosity. Because you want to understand how they think and why they think that way and get to know things from their perspective. When you're listening from a place of curiosity, it's a very different experience.
I worked on oil rigs, and I was the only engineer on board in my team, and the other people would be mechanics or operators with lots of experience. I respected people, sure! I had the dignity of Labor. But what I think I didn't do is try to connect with those people and understand why they do things the way they did. It was all about - I have to follow this safety standard. I have to follow this process. I need to get these people to see it that way.
The biggest mistake I have done is not genuinely connect. I was connecting at a very superficial level. In the first two or 3 years, I think it was all about - How do I perform better? How do I excel?
But it should have been - How do I get our team to succeed? Got it. I think I learned it later in life, but learning early would have had its own advantage!