Courageous clarity: leading with connection, curiosity, and clear communication

On Janury 24th, 2023, Phyllis Sarkaria, founder and CEO of the Sarkaria Group, led a workshop organized by the San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange (SDEE) at the Hera Hub’s new location in the in the Torrey Pines area. Thanks to the Hera Hub for hosting, and to all the SDEE sponsors: Morrison and Foerster, Alexandria, Kyowa Kirin, Takeda, BDO, CBRE, Wagenknecht Law Group, Marsh McLennan, Union Bank, Duane Morris, Longfellow, JLABS, and

Phyllis worked in the energy and life sciences industries in various capacities, including finance and human resources, until she started her own company in 2017 to help clients being effective leaders. Her new book, Courageous Clarity, is an essential guide for leaders who want to inspire, influence, and engage their teams for greater results.

Career paths are not straight lines but have detours, roadblocks, and obstacles. We are busy juggling a lot of things but need to remind ourselves that some balls are made of glass and some of rubber. Bounce the rubber balls to someone else but be careful not to drop the glass balls because those will break.

Leadership effectiveness is driven by three main factors: the courage to try something different or new; the humility to acknowledge the lack of experience or knowledge in that field; and the discipline to grow and learn.

How we are perceived by others is not always aligned with how we think we are perceived. Leaders must recalculate their path to leadership like a GPS. They need to start by developing self-awareness and then move into dialogue and collaboration. Thus, sometimes it is necessary to slow down, assess the situation, and evaluate if a change of course is necessary. Only 10-15% of us are self-aware. Ask yourself these questions: how curious am I to know why I do the things I do? What impact do I have on those around me? Do I feel misunderstood, or do I have to defend my words or actions? Am I seen by others the way I want them to view me? Try to be self-reflective and understand the impact you have on other people. We tend to lead the way we want to be led; however, we need to realize that different people have different styles and, thus, we should lead like others want to be led.

As humans, we tend to provide answers, maybe because this is what got us good grades in school or promotions later in life. In general, we are more inclined to talk than to listen. If we want to know what others think or care about, we should ask them - rather than make assumptions - and listen. And if we want honest answers, we need to build trust, cultivate relationships, and listen to different points of view. People do not forget how you make them feel. Although we cannot control how people feel, we can control the care, attention, and respect we show.

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