Connect with Rupal Nishar: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rupalnishar/
Learn more about Netomi at https://www.netomi.com/
Learn more about your own leadership style at: https://www.leadershipmba.com/
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You don't need a title to be a leader.
In this episode, Rupal shares her expertise and experience as to why leadership has nothing to do with a title.
Rupal Nishar is the VP of Customer Success at Netomi, a company focusing on improving customer support for both customers and agents globally using an AI platform.
Some of their use cases include bringing elasticity into the customer experience and orchestrating a unified brand experience.
Rupal's start in leadership came as a surprise to her.
She started out as a developer and as she was working on her first job at a consulting firm, she realized a few months into her role that she wasn't happy. So she spoke to her boss about it and her boss helped her get into a business analyst role where she got promoted within the first quarter to run the team that she joined.
"Good stories always beat good spreadsheets", this was the biggest lesson she learned as part of that. Rupal liked telling good stories and understanding how everything fits together.
What enabled Rupal to rise to this position so quickly?
One of the elements that helped accelerate her promotion was being able to have conversations across all levels about the problems they were solving as it helped her get in front of the right audience.
Another element that helped her was being resilient through some of the challenges which are very critical along the way. She was only focusing on winning at all costs and wasn't playing to compete on the project. She's using the philosophy of getting viewpoints from everybody within the room and trying to come up with very creative solutions.
Rupal also says that she went from managing teams to becoming an individual contributor. Her role in management wasn't always linear, but what continued to stay true was the fact that she always aligned herself with the leadership path, regardless of her role.
She always gave herself permission and wore the badge of being a leader and an influencer by having an opinion and thinking about different ideas no matter where she sat in the organization.
Rupal shares advice about how you can put into practice the principle of aligning yourself with the leadership path regardless of your technical role.
Meritocracy is Rupal's leadership style in one word. Being a great leader is not just about having great ideas or having the right titles. It's about making sure that the right ideas are being heard and that you're giving them the space to imagine and come to light. It's about giving the people a seat at the table and listening to them from different parts of the organization.
Leadership isn't about the boss making the decisions, it's about taking responsibility for the outcomes and for the people. Once you start taking responsibility for the outcomes, regardless of where you sit in the organization, you automatically are giving yourself permission to be a leader.
Don't confuse leadership with what titles Leadership is a mindset. Even as an Individual Contributor, you can have a seat at the table, but you have to work on building your influence correctly.
For those who are in leadership and in management right now, leadership is going through a massive revolution. You have to be more fearless and authentic in your management style. You have to learn to meet every team member where they are versus having a singular path of where you're all going to go.
Be comfortable being yourself. Be the unapologetically weird self that you are. Give yourself and your team permission to fail. It's okay to do that. And when you fail, you have to fail fast and learn from it so you can evolve very quickly.
She also shares that every success that she and her team has had was the result of a village around her and around them. So if you don't have one yet, start building your own village, in your personal or professional life. Because you need your own board of directors that are going to guide you and be there to support you.
Also, one of the things that people, especially in leadership can do better is listening. Not just about what is being said, but also about what is not being said. More often than not, people get used to the sound of their own voices.
So it's important to take a step back and let the other speak. Listening is a much more difficult skill than people realize.
Rupal says to make failure an empowering thing inside your team, you have to create a very open and safe environment for people to raise their hands and say what's working well versus what's not working well.
Growth, learning, and team building only happen when you have a very open and safe environment.
As a leader, you also have to lead by example. To be able to foster an environment where it's okay to fail, you have to be open about the things you also have messed up. And that's very important because if you never say you fail as a leader, it will be hard for your people to believe and follow you.
How do you go from failing fast to evolving in an efficient way?
One of the key principles that Rupal has learned from an organizational perspective was the concept of reflection. Understanding what went wrong and why it went wrong to the best of your ability boils down to what improvements you need to make from people process technology as there might be a different way of approaching a problem.
And while you're reflecting and thinking about those things, it's also important to have very audacious goals that set the bar and stretch you to fail a little bit while you're actually succeeding as well.
How has support from Rupal's peers helped her evolve her career?
Rupal has people within each aspect of her life that bring her perspective, the good and the bad, that sometimes she feels like she needs to challenge herself better. And that helps her get there from her personal growth which also ultimately helps her organization as she brings her best self to work.
She also shares that success isn't an individual person's right. All of her successes can't just be attributed singularly to her, there has been a village of people supporting her. It's been those that have been part of her team and sometimes not even part of her team that has given her the right kind of guidance on where she needs to go better or things to watch out for.
It takes a village to succeed. Everybody has a role to play, which is where this idea of meritocracy comes in. You can't just say somebody is more important or less important because it will take everybody's effort to get you to where you want to be.
At what point did Rupal realize that she needed support to grow?
It goes back to the first promotion she had, where she became a manager for the BAs. She had an eye-opening conversation with one of her leaders at the time who asked her, "Do you know what you could have done better?"
She then realized that she should be doing a much better job of asking for help as there's a lot that she doesn't know. And it's okay not to know. You don't have to be the expert at everything.
When Nils put out the very beginning of the B2B Leaders Academy, Rupal was one of the very first people that signed up and jumped at the opportunity to invest in her growth and development.
And that's how relationships start. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that. But you have to make the decision first.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. That is one of the most important things in leadership. Be willing to do whatever it takes to get what you want, whether it's investing in a program, or in coaching, regardless of if your company is going to pay for it or not.
Asking for help, enriching your life, and forming a connection with somebody else is going to pay huge dividends, and even getting to know other people in whatever program you happen to join.
Being responsible for outcomes means you're making decisions while you're balancing everything. And the consequences when you're making decisions on what the downstream impacts are going to be is taking into account what you need to do right now.
Is this something that the organization is going to play a part in as well?
Everybody plays a part in it. You have to inspire people to want to solve the problem. There's an element of learning that's going to happen along the way and an element of pushing your boundaries that you may not be comfortable doing. Being responsible is pushing those boundaries to get to where you want to be.
So it's important to inspire people to where they want to go with the problems that they want to solve.
What advice would Rupal give her younger self?
She would tell her younger self to slow down. If she had only slowed down, she would have been more confident about making mistakes than she was back then.
Rupal also shares advice to those feeling the imposter syndrome.
Most people treat imposter syndrome as something that they need to overcome. But Rupal says you don't need to overcome it. Real growth happens when you are in an uncomfortable space. Be comfortable in that space, because you're probably pushing the boundaries to learn something new that you haven't before.