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Learning to be Your Authentic Self as a New Manager

Subhasri Madaka

Engineering Manager at Duo Security

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Problem

When I became a manager, I did not have a professional degree in management. I didn't feel like I had the correct tools or strategies to be a successful manager. It was like one of those imposter syndromes, that made me believe that I didn't have some necessary skills. I needed to identify what I brought to the table and play to those strengths and work on areas which I found challenging. More importantly I had to adopt a growth mindset. I have a lot of fresh opinions to offer, but am someone who is not necessarily comfortable in large meetings. I am comfortable to some extent with public speaking, but with a preference to smaller audiences. As people were speaking up about their work and challenges in team meetings, I would pretty much be very quiet in those discussions. Over time, I realized that I would often give the impression that I was a quiet listener and not contributing to the process.

Actions taken

I began by becoming more comfortable in meeting with individuals on a one-on-one basis to build my confidence. Then, I branched out to speak in larger groups and take action in the meeting by speaking up. I also learnt to be ok with not always being right and acknowledging any knowledge gaps. This made me feel liberated enough to freely express my opinion without any fear.

Lessons learned

  • By speaking with people in the more personal setting that a one-on-one offers, I gained confidence by understanding that they didn't actually think I was ignorant. What I was saying made sense and they were willing to listen to my opinion.
  • I learned that it is okay to speak your mind and that it is not going to hurt people's feelings. In fact, you are just being authentic about who you are by expressing yourself.
  • I was able to double up in areas where I didn't feel like I had the proper strength.
  • It took a lot of self recognition of the problem I was confronted with, but I came out of it after almost two years more securely aware of myself as an individual. I also understood that being myself doesn't mean that I am self-centered and I shouldn't shy away from expressing my thoughts just because I am scared of peer judgement.

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Subhasri Madaka

Engineering Manager at Duo Security


Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthSkill DevelopmentOvercoming BiasIndividual Contributor Roles

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