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Leadership is not only about driving people to reach organizational goals, but also about helping individuals to become their best possible version. Sometimes it’s required for a leader to be compassionate and connect with team members on a more personal level to help them grow.

I still remember the inner satisfaction I felt when I helped a colleague who was going through a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Failure to make improvements during this period would result in termination. I was shocked to see that no one came to her immediate aid or even encouraged her.  In fact, many bet that she would quit. Rather than giving up on her, I decided to step up and explore the possible root causes of her performance. From spending time outside of the work environment, I learned that she had just moved to the city and initially it took her a while to settle down. The work culture was different here and she was finding it difficult to adjust. The lack of prior experience in the security domain didn’t help her cause either. I began to invite her to lunch meetings with peers which made her more comfortable with the team.  She began to feel more encouraged to speak up about her initiatives and spoke more confidently in group meetings. Meanwhile, I also initiated a product training program to help her build stronger fundamentals. After few weeks of mentorship, I saw her confidence and quality of work improve. After several months, she received recognition for outstanding performance and was promoted within the group.

From this experience, I learned the importance of being sensitive to everyone’s individual situations and tailoring my mentorship style to bring out the best in every team member. I also realized that it just takes a small step to make a significant impact on one’s life.

The best piece of advice I’ve received is to always believe in my abilities and to never give up. I joined ______ as an intern and did not know any members of the team. My inexperience and minimal available supervision were already getting the better of me. But things started going downhill a month into the internship. I was informed my family that my father had to go through a major heart surgery.  To further compound the situation, my family had to rely on me financially as he was recovering. The familial responsibilities were taking a toll on my work. I thought of giving up and decided to share these thoughts with my father. He advised me that I must show perseverance in the face of adversities as these situations are part of life. His words struck a chord with me and I resolved myself to not let these situations affect my work or my responsibility towards my family. With the belief that this too shall pass, I set out to push beyond my physical and mental limits. I spent many days working relentlessly at the office while also spending nights at the hospital by my father’s bedside. My efforts materialized as my manager applauded my commitment. With hard work, I became the first intern in my class to obtain a full-time employment.

Subsequently, that advice has become bedrock of my life ethos and a guiding principle in achieving my goals. Through this daunting experience, I learned the importance of being patient and developed a “never quit” attitude.  In sharing these experiences, I hope to encourage my peers at Emory persevere in the face of adversities in the organizations we will join.

Goizueta Business School

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