Anna Sroka - Leadership with Empathy

Automatic Summary

Sharing my Story: The Journey of a Tech Leader

Welcome to my blog where I wish to share my journey and the knowledge I have gained as a tech leader over the years. My passion for leadership is born out of my personal experiences, and it's my pleasure to share them with people striving to grow in their respective fields.

About the Speaker: The Two Roles I Juggle

My name is Anna and I reside in Poland, Europe. I proudly play two significant roles in my life. In the IT world, I have been serving as an IT service manager for the past 15 years, currently working on a digital transformation for a coding company called Oricon in Switzerland. Equally important is my second role, where I encourage women to enhance their self-confidence. I founded a company, the Female Enterprise, specifically catering to this cause.

Challenges Faced and Overcome: A Real-Life Story

The story I am about to share is my personal journey, featuring some of the most challenging moments in my professional life. There was a period when, after a four-month leave of absence due to illness, I returned to work only to be fired immediately. This drastic situation made me question what kind of leader I wanted to be and how I wished to engage with my team.

Not one to dwell on hardships, I soon found another job. Just when things seemed to be settling, I discovered I was pregnant. This again posed a new challenge. After much thought, I decided to be open and forthright with my manager about my pregnancy and future plans. His response was both surprising and uplifting, "Anna, how can I help you?"

The Importance of Empathy in Leadership

Empathy is a valuable quality in a leader; it fosters trust, respect, and sincerity. In my challenging situation, being asked, "How can I help you?" was a game-changer. This wasn't simply a question—it was an offer of understanding and support during a critical time.

This brief exchange reminded me of the importance of teams in any organization. In challenging situations like the current COVID pandemic, whether physical or virtual, would you prefer a leader whose first question is, "Are you challenging my leadership style?" or someone who gently asks, "How can I help you?"

Overcoming Challenging Situations: Emphasizing Trust

Leaders greatly influence the outcome of challenging situations. A small act of understanding or an empathetic gesture can leave a lasting impression. In times of remote collaboration, such as during COVID, actions driven by empathy can genuinely help a struggling team member.

In Conclusion:

Life will always be filled with challenges, and these challenges will be diverse. The important thing is how we confront them and what we learn from them. As a leader, having empathy and a genuine desire to help can significantly influence your team's morale, productivity, and overall experience.

Calling Out to All Readers: Share Your Experience and Questions

I welcome you all to ask questions, share your experiences or discuss any points that you found interesting. Let's continue to share, learn, and grow together!

Don't forget to put forth the crucial question, "How can I help you?" as it can make all the difference in our interactions. Remember, as a leader, your most valuable asset is your people. Your priority should be helping them grow so that, collectively, we all can succeed.

Video Transcription

Good to hear. I'm so happy uh the to, to, to, to be a speaker this time, I had the pleasure to be a part of the nominated group during class con conference.So now I um let's say I would like to give back in that meaning that I would like to share my knowledge and uh inspire you to grow. Um All right, I think we are all the time. Once again, warm welcome in the session. And uh thank you very much for taking the time and joining and the willingness to uh listen to me. Um The decision is planned for 20 minutes. Uh There can be also the Q and A. Uh So let me do it that way that uh let's keep 75 to 7 minutes on the end uh for the discussion. Please uh drop uh mm Please drop uh questions in the chat uh that II I will be able to read and then, then to uh answer that. Um So I think we can, we're good to start. Um Once again, hello, great to be here uh and happy that uh that you are enjoying the conference. I'm also so excited. And uh let me introduce my Anna and I live in uh Poland in Europe and I do handle two roles.

One in my It Ward when I am it service manager. Now performing the digital, performing the digital transformation from the coding company called Oricon in Switzerland. And the other one when I um encourage ladies to grow their self-confidence. Uh Also I founded the, the company called the Female Enterprise uh In It World. I'm about uh 15 years. So uh quite, uh let's say, quite experienced and I hope uh um what I will share with you today. Uh It's a real story. Uh It will um inspire you and let you grow. Uh So this is all about me. Uh Let me just move to the next slide. So ladies, imagine, imagine the the other lady, imagine the girl uh living, living in the, somewhere in the world. And I imagine that she's already uh growing her career. She's um working for the international company. Uh She is exciting what she do and uh she do interesting things and he of course, is in the tech world and uh one day the lady cannot work for um about three for four months. Uh She is not able to go to work. So she's getting the sick leave, uh being on the sick leave and finally coming back to the work. Uh next day, she gets to know that she is fired.

Uh So the only discussion after coming back to the work with her leader, it was, hello, you are fired immediately and uh how to say that? Uh do you feel how she could feel that moment? Have you faced that situation? Have uh have you been uh in, in, in, in that moment that you were a leader and you had to fire someone or you were the team member who had to leave the company because to be fired. Is it, is it something which uh which is common for you? And then let's let me continue what happened with the girl? So uh I think as each and every of us because we women are really, really strong and there are no issues which we will not find and we usu usually treat the issues. The problems are the mm uh things to be solved and we are looking how to do it. So, uh in a short period of the time, uh the lady finds a new job and uh and enjoy the new job, she end up in the new great environment uh with interesting things to do and uh and it, and it's like take hers.

So she, she really enjoy and she really um right, try to be part of the company and I guess what, having the short term contract, uh the lady gets to know that she's pregnant and have you faced maybe that situation any day in your life? So uh just imagine what, uh, what she could do. The lady was, uh following the, mm um, the ideas or the, um, the values which the company was, um, let's say presenting it was to being open. Uh, it was to believe in the trust and to be honest, uh with each other. And, uh, she just went to the manager and asked, uh, and told him about, uh, the pregnancy look short term contract that, uh, that, you know, I just get to know about it and you will lose me for some months or about the year. But uh I wanted to be honest with you and now of the reaction and now is the claw. Mm And uh maybe you can think how COVID is related to that. But give me a second, I will explain. But before I would like to share with you two questions and the importance to those two questions is extremely important. So whenever you are a leader or whenever you meet a leader, what kind of question do you ask if there is a challenging time?

Are you asking uh the question to your, your uh team members to uh to and others? Are you challenging my leadership style or are you asking the question? How can I help you? So, let's come back to this story. Uh The story which I just told you and the lady which I was just telling you about. It's my story. So it all had happened and in my life, I met two type of managers. The manager who fired me was the manager who usually asked the question. Are you challenging my leadership style and the manager uh and the leader to whom I was telling, I know that I'm new. I know that I'm on temporary contract, but I want to be honest with you and share with you um that, that important uh thing for me. He asked only one single question, Anna, how can I help you? And congratulations. And you know, uh whenever you are a leader and you have your team, the biggest and most important value and the only thing which you have are your people and only depends on you if the people in the challenging situation will be together with you. So uh let's imagine now the COVID times which we all are facing, uh would you prefer or would you uh virtually remotely support the leader who is asking you, are you challenging me? What are you coming with or would you be following the leader?

Who is asking how can I help you? Because the leader is to support you to um to make all what the teams agree to deliver. And uh it's only about the team members to make it all happen. So uh the leader is some kind of catalyzer to, to all the things. So if it will be positive, then it everything will grow and everything will go as expected. But if the leader will do some kind of opposite thing, this will stop you. So let me continue the story. What happened then uh I was sharing the info that I'm pregnant and just what happened, I've got all the possible support uh in that meaning that I was allowed to work fully remotely, that I was allowed to adjust my um working time even if my role is a direct collaboration with c colleagues.

Um uh So, uh in general, they uh um they allows me to adjust work to be suitable for my situation and allows me to um to get the work done on the, in the two months, I was the mm employee of the month manager and the team was so satisfied with uh with my job. So, uh first of all, it was to be open and honest and believe in the trust because then it's given back to you and at the other side, if you treat the person, um seriously the person will feel it and the person would really would like to contribute. So what about empathy then? Because the session is focused on the empathy. Uh the question, how can I help you? It's exactly the clue on the empathy. It's not about to feel uh like being in the situation on the person or taking on your shoulders, all the things which happened, but be for what happened to those people and see what we can do together. So, um please ask that question and see how it will work. Usually people will be surprised uh with that thing. Uh And uh it will like, all right. OK. So you can help me like we can figure out it together. I'm not alone in it. Very great things happen uh after that.

Um especially during COVID when you have limited options to be together in that meaning that you are seated in one office and you can just uh you know, see if the person is like struggling with something or have the difficulties or enjoying something um with the remote world is not so easy.

So especially uh with uh our virtual collaboration, this is something which is very, very helpful. So, yeah, I think um this is the story. This is what I wanted to share with you. I really would like to uh listen to your questions and uh to uh discuss with you. So uh let me check what we have the chat and the Q and A. So um I do have a message from a Akansha uh from Dubai. Wow, great. Uh ah This is about the job opportunities. So it's not about the questions to the sessions uh to the, to, to our session. Uh So, um is there anything what you would like to ask? Is there anything hard, which was uh which was uh um let's say uh something interesting for you. Um Y you can two options to raise the questions within the chat or within the Qaa I will be more than happy uh more than happy to uh to um answer. And also I do have a question to you. Um Do you work with the leaders who are party leaders or do you uh do you face the leaders who are the uh are you challenging my leadership style? So in that meaning that they are so much focused on how good they are that they are just not seeing other people and uh other people needs. Uh OK, we do have a question. Uh What uh from Claire? Thank you very much Claire for this question.

What is the most challenging situation you face and how did you overcome it? Um The most challenging? Uh Thank you very much for asking that. Uh I can tell you about the situation when uh this was my 1st 1st job after the graduation. And I was in the, in the project of some kind of system roll out to uh to hold the word of the company. And I had external consultants assigned to me as a coordinator and those external consultants like where um I was some kind of team leader for them, meaning that I was assigning them the duties and seeing how they are progressing with that. And I was the first point of contact for them uh uh of the consultants asked for me, asked me if he, if he has face to face. Uh like to only two of us a meeting. I was a lady who was a man and the man just in front of me started to cry. I was like, oh my God, what is happening? What happened? And he's told me mm told me his story. Uh he had, he was sick. Uh He was assigned to the employment uh uh like 400 kilometers from home and she was, he was just, uh his daughter was like three months. So he was really struggling to be alone from the family, uh like feeling sick and having a really difficult project.

And uh he thought that this is too much for him and he would like to, to leave. So, first of all, what I did, I uh allow him to, to, to speak to tell each and everything which they want, he wanted to share. And after that, uh I, if I now think about it, I asked the question, how can I help you? Uh There was really, really nothing much what I could do. Uh But the only thing which came to my mind, uh it was just to ask that question and Tomac, it was his name. He told me, oh, yeah, maybe you would just understand me. This would be helpful for me. And I seen the smile on his face. I haven't solved anything. What was bothering him. I haven't solved the situation that he had to work. 400 kilometers from home. But I make him smiling. And on the beginning it was most challenging thing for me because, you know, there is someone I was really young, there was someone who were coming and just crying because he was feeling so bad. But um I figured out what to do and I was really happy that even with that small thing, I could support that person. All right, I have a question from Yasmin. Uh she's uh engineering studying. Uh And so, oh, thank you very much.

It is sharing this up worth. Thank you very much, really appreciate it. Um Yasmin, uh this uh the, the, the thing, the, the reason why I'm sharing that story is to uh tell you that uh in general, we never know who will we meet on our career, but we are the drivers, we decide how the people can treat us. So we, we set our boundaries and if our boundaries are uh let's say broken, if someone needs to like just all right, this my boundaries do not go further. Uh Then you still have this decision if you are feeling to be part of that world or you would like to be someone else. So I hope such stories will um allow you to just understand that there are always options and you can choose the options. Um Ana Marie, uh uh we have something here. My team li is living and breathing the, how may I help mentally. Wow, serving her team members and therefore being amazing team coach, she's big role model for me. Uh Wow. Thank you very much. Great, great. We need such examples with the breath, will you? Uh uh All right. So Natasha, it's not, it's, it's also for the others. We still have one minute so I can uh start presenting once again the slide, but I'm not sure if it's the local issue for Natasha.

Could someone um just confirm if uh the others cannot see the presentation too? All right. All right. So Natasha, I will be just because I, I do have one more comment which I would like to, to answer to uh on the slide. There are two questions uh Are you challenging my leadership style? And the second one, how can I help you? So, showing the differences on the leader's approach and uh let's say this was most focusing. Um uh Then we have the question from Raavi. I'm working on the mixed uh mixed leaders. I'm very comfortable with the leader. How can I help you whenever I first question? Uh It makes exactly this is, this is the thing, are we at the end of the talk? Uh having a boss that was obsessed with the being. All right. All right. Yeah, I uh uh Natasha. Yeah. Uh Yeah. Uh All right. All right. Uh Get getting the point now, Natasha. Yeah. It's, it's really if uh the, the point with being a leader is to be focused on their, on your people but not yourself. So your uh you the most important thing should be. How can I help my team to grow? And then you as a reader are just growing because of that. I think this will be some kind of the summary uh of, of, of uh so big. Thank you very much. Thank you very much for joining the sur.