There are many routes to successful leadership, with myriad qualities underpinning it, and as many ways to define and describe it. One thing’s for certain — you know it when you see it. We were lucky enough to be joined on Tevent Talks by one such leader, Iria Saleiro.
Incredibly respected and influential in her field, Iria has helped to build multi-billion-dollar companies, such as DataRobot and AppDynamics from the ground up. With almost 10 years of sales experience behind her, Iria’s journey began in the tech startup space, seeing her right through to her current role at Multiverse; a training, apprenticeship, and upskilling provider championing diversity and inclusion.
Together with our host Nayl, Iria tackled topics of self-development, leadership, diversity, and the digital skills gap in education and the workplace. Check out the full video below, or keep reading for the highlights.
Despite common misconception, there’s no one single quality shared amongst all good leaders — which we’ve professed before. You might not be the stereotypical extroverted, domineering and charismatic definition that so many mistakenly aspire to be — but that mightn’t be your path to leadership.
To Forbes, leadership is "a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” Good leadership is defined by the outcome then, and not one specific quality, or persona. Iria is one such leader using a ‘people-first’ approach.
“So first of all, is really understanding the person that you are working with, and then it's finding what motivates them and what's important to them.”
It’s important to remember that when your team does well, you do also — giving them the support and tools that they need to reach their professional goals is key to cohesion. Because of the nature of the work done at Multiverse, their work culture is massively influenced by development in all its forms.
What’s more, having a positive work culture can really help to steer the ship in the right direction. Having a positive culture of individuals who wish to help each other and exchange knowledge can only bolster the collective knowledge and confidence of the workplace.
Despite what you may believe — healthy competition can occur alongside the sharing of wisdom and knowledge. Without sharing what you know, you risk stagnation and complacency, so if you really want to progress, it’s time to start talking.
What’s more, the mark of a great leader is knowing how to best balance your time. Iria tells us you can spread yourself out amongst tasks, and “achieve everything at 50%” or focus on one thing at a time and apply 150%. The time it takes to mentally switch between tasks is time lost, and spreading yourself between lots of little tasks will often leave you spending more time adjusting than actually being productive.
Although there are no definitive traits to good leadership — you can’t truly achieve it without first working on yourself. Being introspective, taking opportunities to learn, and honing your own skills will not only make you a more credible leader, but a more effective, and inspiring one too.
Iria has undoubtedly taken such a path — being one of the highest achievers and Multiverse with a wealth of praise surrounding you doesn’t happen by accident. The secret, as ever, is finding something you’re passionate about — something you can give 100% of your effort to without losing that spark.
“It was never an option for me not to be successful, and I always had that competitive mindset to work, whatever I wanted to achieve.”
Iria gave herself every chance she could, with “all the hard work and resilience” to succeed in work. Through a process of self-development, hard work, focus, and (most importantly) enough sleep every night, she honed her skill-set, and successfully steered her path toward leadership.
Regardless of how effectively you hone your skills, you can still run into a bout of imposter syndrome. Iria has encountered many “established people” who experience this, herself included — yet, Iria sees it more as a by-product of progress.
“At some point, we will question [ourselves] because [successful people] will have this... desire to become better and to go to the next level. And therefore in order to do that you need to do some self-reflection, and you need to be quite aware of yourself.”
Iria has found that writing down the reason why she feels insecure helps to unpack the issue — she then rationalises and reconsiders. She will often communicate with family, friends, peers, and mentors — a fresh perspective is invaluable when you’re feeling insecure.
Being aware of your boundaries, and finding a routine that suits you can also be a great boom to success. When we’re feeling unsure of ourselves, it can be useful to ground ourselves with a regular routine — making it easier to identify and tackle stressors.
“You will get... rejection, you will go through tough times, and it's about... being able to see the bright side, when it's... raining or when it's grey outside, and, it's about being able to learn from... your failure in order to make them a success later on.”
Both Iria and Multiverse are committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity. Their mission is to first create an accepting environment, and then use this environment to propel their students forwards. Diversity is about the “full spectrum of human difference” — not just to be accepted, but to be understood and supported through their learning journey.
“It’s about ensuring that we are representative of the communities that we serve. So inclusion is not just about widening the access to a career, but it’s also about ensuring people feel they belong... [so that] they’re able to achieve their dreams.”
Diversity isn’t just about ticking boxes and reaching quotas — true diversity can, in fact, boost innovation, efficiency, and, subsequently, revenue. Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and nor does it happen in echo chambers — the more varied the experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and backgrounds, the more progress there is to be made.
Unfortunately, progress in traditional education seems to have stagnated — many simply can’t afford the debt of University, and top establishments can be inaccessible to many. And it doesn’t stop at education, only 57% of those who go on to graduate schemes went to a comprehensive — despite 91% of the population doing so.
“Those Universities, in the last 50 to 100 years, have not really changed the way they operate. They haven't really changed what they teach and therefore, they are not adapting to the digital transformation that we are going through.”
It’s time to change the way we view education — and open up new futures and careers to those who otherwise would miss out.
Multiverse is leading the charge for apprenticeships, training, and upskilling, focusing on both inclusion and the digital skills gap. Their commitment to these issues is inspiring, and we wish them only success on their mission to reimagine the route through to full-time work.
Thank you again to Iria, for lending us your time, wisdom and insights.
It’s about time we outgrew the teething pains of current virtual and remote solutions. Let’s start making remote fun, collaborative and workable for all.