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Becoming the Type of Leader That You Would Want to Follow

Personal Growth
Leadership
Career Path

17 May, 2021

Mohamed Aafrin
Mohamed Aafrin

Head of Technology and Innovation at REV Media Group

Mohamed Aafrin, Head of Technology and Innovation at REV Media Group, reflects on some of the most important things that he’s learned about leading others throughout his career.

Problem

I’ve been in a position of leadership for over seven years now. The transition came by accident; our CTO left the company, and there was nobody else who was able to step into the role. I had to take responsibility. I’ve learned many lessons throughout this time. I’m an introvert, and my passion is coding first. My roots are in IT, so people leadership was a totally new journey to me.

I actually took a year in school to study medicine, I found that I had no passion in the field, however, and switched to computer science. I was so excited about the material in front of me that I was able to pass every course while hardly studying at all. I am very lucky: I started working at an early age, gaining insight into handling clients and solving problems right from the start. This made the process of transitioning into project management much more intuitive.

Actions taken

After grabbing the aforementioned opportunity to lead for the first time, my new team had already spent some time hanging in the limbo of having nobody to lead them. I started to organize immediately, getting everybody together in terms of alignment. In order to do this, I had plenty of personal improvement to do, as well. At first, I had no idea how to build a team or how to manage people. When you fall into a role as I had in this instance, there is no training. The change hit me hard. I always made sure to be well-prepared for what was to come next.

Personal development came by way of doing my research and reading a lot of books on the topic of self-improvement. I also had access to a lot of great mentors who have helped me find my way. They were able to help me find the natural problem solver within me. I learned to rely on internal resources like HR to help me navigate more challenging areas of the job. I also use data-monitoring software to keep track of my team and to help me make important decisions about scaling and things of that nature. I’ve been led to many correct decisions through these means.

Growing with technology is always challenging. Things are constantly changing. You need to be able to adapt and to call upon as many different sources of information as possible. I read a lot of blogs. I use an RSS feed to keep me updated on the latest news in the industry. It’s been a good seven years since embarking on this journey.

Lessons learned

  • Sometimes, through research and through subscriptions to the blogs of industry leaders, you’ll be able to read an anecdote that will give you an idea of how to solve a similar problem in your own company.
  • One of the key lessons that I’ve learned as a leader is the importance of transparency. Employees receive all types of messages from the heads of the company. As a mid-level manager, it is my job to communicate to them in a way that makes them comfortable and that keeps them informed. This keeps them in line with the company’s objectives and roadmap.
  • Conflict resolution was another area to grow in. I learned to be very neutral and impartial so that I would be able to support employees who are having difficulty within the company. You need to listen to both sides and to be able to make a data-driven decision.

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