Do you agree that being a manager does not make you a leader by default? Today we have a couple of great lessons on leadership by Ivaylo Ganev, Group Manager at Kodar, part of Strypes Group, who stands out with prominent experience in business, and also with valuable insights on leading, managing, and empowering people.
Ivaylo has a vast background in customer support, sales, and startup development for technology companies, which has taught him a lot on business, negotiation, communication, and people development throughout his career. Today he is sharing with us his experience, as well as the reasons he has chosen Strypes to develop his career.
Lesson #1: Broaden your Perspective on Different Cultures and Accept Diversity
Ivaylo’s career has required him to travel much more than the average person. He struggles to count the times he has flown across the Atlantic and the number of cities he has visited across the Globe. What he remembers, however, is the variety of people and cultures he has come across in time.
“I know that many people fail in business due to poor understanding of the culture and point of view of others. Let’s take as a common example the struggle to communicate effectively with partners from the East or the West. If you don’t know that it is typical for Indians to bargain, you may end up disappointed when negotiating with them. If you don’t know American people, sometimes you may find them over excited or too friendly or enthusiastic about a given idea or a challenge. On the other hand, some people coming from Central Europe may seem too direct and even offensive if you are not aware of their communication style. My advice is to keep observing. The more you learn about different cultures, the better you become in communication and negotiation.”
Lesson #2: Lead by Example
Communicating, organizing, managing, and delegating are only a part of Ivaylo’s tasks as a Group Manager at Kodar. When performing any of these, he is mostly driven by his vision about leadership:
“Be the one in the team who empowers and gives freedom to the others to act, take responsibility, and even to make mistakes and learn by doing.”
Lesson #3: Shape Others as Leaders
We often forget that different people have different motivations to work and engage with a specific role or a company. According to Ivaylo, good leaders play a key role here to support talents and help them achieve their ambitions in parallel with their targets or goals at work.
“Always mind that some people from your team may be chasing a more senior role, a managerial role or other career move together with the development of their passions and knowledge. Make sure you are supporting them by all means, and gradually turning them into leaders themselves.”
Lesson #4: Give Credit to People
Experience may have taught us to recognize leaders and differentiate them from managers and bosses. Here is how Ivaylo describes the attitude of a good leader towards their team:
“Praise your people when deserved. Do not take credit for their achievements and avoid micromanaging them if you insist on the productivity of your team. Also, keep the motivation of everyone by making them part of the idea generation and decision-making processes about your projects.”
Lesson #5: Align with the Vision of Your Organization
This concept is only possible if you recognize yourself in the vision of the organization and the internal culture and values it promotes. For Ivaylo, Kodar has become the right place where he sees his ideas about business and people management aligned with the ones established by the organization.
“Imagine an organization where your ideas are being heard and considered right away. An organization which supports openness and encourages anyone to speak directly with the senior leadership about initiatives, feedback, or concerns. An organization that implies a bottom-up approach for decision making and direction for growth. I am happy to be part of such an organization and believe that my colleagues also understand why Strypes Group can stand out with its culture.”
Lesson #6: Define a Mission Beyond the Scope of Your Job
In addition to his position as part of the organization, Ivaylo keeps an eye on the entire IT ecosystem in Bulgaria and the impact he, his teams, and Strypes Group are having on it.
“As a leader, one should not limit themselves to daily operational tasks and goals. A key driving force for myself is the role we are having to promote the potential of the IT industry in Bulgaria, and to nurture the collaboration between the business, the educational system, and the government sector in the country. If we have a vision that goes beyond business goals, it is to enable career opportunities for the young and to make them passionate about technology. I am proud that at Strypes Group we already have remarkable results by building communities around our company in some of the biggest cities in Bulgaria.”
Lesson #7: Your Hobbies also Define You
It is not always about professionalism and work experience. Sometimes your personal life shapes you as a good leader which is also true for Ivaylo.
“I am thinking about my hobbies, realizing that all of them help me improve my skills. I like playing sports, solving puzzles, socializing, and communicating a lot. Any of these keeps me in good shape and helps me work on my soft skills, thus impacting my professional life, as well.”