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Authentic Leadership Means Encouraging People

July 20, 2016 by Samantha Moss, Corinna Machmeier 90

Through authentic stories, leaders at SAP showcase how they live leadership principles. Anirban Maiti, manager for Global Customer Care at Ariba, talks about trust.

“Trust, to me, is consistency in what we say and what we do,” says Anirban Maiti. In this interview he reveals some insights into his past leadership experiences and shares his opinion on the future of work.

Q: What has been your biggest leadership challenge?

A: Being part of SAP’s cloud journey in general, and more specifically, managing how fast SAP Ariba is growing while trying to maximize work product with the talent and resources we have at our disposal. Our president wants us to triple our business by 2020 and that means we need to challenge our conventional thinking and to try solving problems in ways we may have not tried before. It is not business as usual. As a leader, I am constantly challenging myself, my teams and my peer groups to solve problems in new ways instead of repeating old forms of thinking and doing. The challenge for me is how to identify solutions that can scale with our growth.

What do you do to ensure there is trust on your team?

I have a question that I ask my team members frequently. “What can I start, stop or continue doing to help you be successful at your jobs?” It is a powerful question that allows everyone to discuss topics and to jointly identify solutions.

I remember a work situation that had a profound influence on how I view leadership. Consequently, that situation helped me to use trust as my fundamental guiding principle. When I was working as a system administrator deployed at a customer site, I happened to have brought a major part of my customer’s business process down. My manager and I immediately took corrective actions and were able to bring back the system. In a review meeting with the customer, my manager owned the breakdown and explained how he planned to address this issue.  He never blamed me. I was extremely inspired by that act of trust and felt empowered to have a leader like that.

What does it mean to be a leader in the digital age?

Connected networks are the drivers of new age of technology. Be it the likes of Uber for transport needs, AirBnB for the ones bit by wanderlust, or Snapchat as a means of staying socially connected. People like to have access to information as they need it and the ability to connect to like-minded groups to share that information. A leader in today’s world facilitates that exchange between employees, teams and organizations. This is the concept of being a “multiplier”: leaders encourage their teams to build those connections which multiply their capabilities.

What do you, personally, do to become that leader?

I look at every opportunity that presents itself to network and learn what can be done to help. None of us can be successful in silos and therefore it is important to build these cross team connections so that we can deliver the One SAP experience to the customer. I manage an escalation function within SAP Ariba. By design the nature of our work is cross functional and we need to jointly align to ensure customer success and the overall success of our business. We live this day in and day out.

How do your support your employees to acquire skills and competencies for the digital age?

I encourage them to stay open and curious for continued learning. It is increasingly difficult to be an expert in your role these days due to the complex, ever changing nature of things. We are all working with connected technologies and therefore it is imperative for their success that employees learn how to gather information and interpret the usefulness of it for their job.


Leaders@SAP

SAP leaders help employees run at their best. They do this by applying the SAP leadership principles: driving simplicity, ensuring customer success, and developing amazing talent.  Leaders make sure that how we run is helping the world run better. SAP started a campaign designed to showcase its leaders living the leadership principles through their authentic stories. The Leaders@SAP campaign launched in June 2016.

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