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Staff & Training

The Leader in Me

Ryan Chan

Me as an emerging leader

Hey everyone, Miji here! Happy New Year! I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflecting on the past year and I feel incredibly lucky to say that 2019 was a year of tremendous growth and learning. Many changes took place, from UpKeep more than doubling in size, to us closing our Series B funding, to me transitioning from a senior team member to a manager within the Customer Success department. Whew!

Moving into a management role was hands down the most impactful shift for me. Before the change took place, I asked myself: What kind of leader do I want to be? I took a trip down memory lane and thought of old managers, VPs, and CEOs. Would I work for those people again? Why or why not? As I looked back on memories of success and failures, the answer became clear: I wanted to be a servant leader; a leader who supports and prioritizes the personal and professional development of each team member. A leader who empowers their team to become the best versions of themselves so that they can challenge the boundaries of what they think they can achieve. Great! Now how do I do that?!

The ENBL experience

miji zhou, enbl, leadership, saas leaders, startup leaders

From left to right: Eddie Nguyen, Joey Cody, Jaci Sanchez, Max Woolf, Miji Zhou, Mustafa Paksoy

Luckily for me, my executives Ryan and Joseph were both extremely supportive of the idea of me amplifying my leadership skills (can you say servant leaders?) They gave me the opportunity to enroll in a program called ENBL, where I got to work with jedi mentors Eddie Nguyen and Mustafa Paksoy and 3 other emerging startup leaders to learn how to build successful teams who actually love working for their managers.

For 7 weeks we hit the figurative leadership gym through in-person trainings as well as remote group coachings. We journaled, role played, learned and put into practice secret weapons for mass success, and supported each other’s challenges and wins every week. Before I knew it, it was Graduation Day and we were presenting our learnings in front of one another, our coaches, and a panel of experienced startup leaders…all in Shark Tank style!

Learnings

While I’m proud to have completed my ENBL training, I know that my leadership journey is far from over. I have more to learn, mistakes to make, and many milestones to accomplish. But in the interim, I’ll share three takeaways that have shaped my leadership style into what it is today:

1. Being a “good” leader doesn’t mean you have to know all the answers.

  • There will come a time where you don’t have a solution to a problem. Embrace this and recognize that it doesn’t diminish your credibility as a leader.
  • Ask your team for help when needed. Not everything is a “manager’s problem” and you’d be amazed at how willing your team will be to lend a hand.

2. Giving feedback is about listening.

  • I used to think that giving feedback was just that – giving a piece of constructive advice to someone and done! But to give valuable and effective feedback, you must first understand the context of the situation.
  • Before giving feedback, take the time to ask the other person about their perspective and hear them out. This will paint a more accurate picture of what’s going on and allow you to give the right advice.

3. Delegation gives your team the ability to thrive.

  • Recognize the unique skills that each team member has. If someone is better suited for a task than you are and you need help, delegate it to that person. 
  • Delegation allows your team to exercise their creativity, work towards a new skill, or own something outside of their day-to-day responsibilities that they can be proud of.

Thank yous

In short, 2019 was an incredible year and finished off with a bang, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of some very important people who I need to take a moment to thank.

First, thank you to my leaders Ryan and Joseph for your servant leadership and for supporting every UpKeeper’s growth each and every day.

Thank you to my coaches Eddie and Mustafa for being great listeners and never giving us the answers but always equipping us the tools and guidance to pave our own path.

Thank you to my brave adventure buddies and fellow students Max, Joey, Jaci. You’ve each inspired me in so many different ways and your teams are lucky to have you!

Finally, thank you to the many startup leaders that I met along the way who shared their wisdom and advice with me. I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to return the favor in some way!

Cheers to 2020 everyone!

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