Deepti Patankar, Co-Founder and Head of Account Management at Hostmaker
Coming into a new industry and being in a position of power is always a challenge, but I found one of the hardest elements was establishing my own leadership style.
There are so many different styles out there and it can take time to figure out what best works for you, especially if you are woman, as you are also fighting off the unfair stereotypes that are placed on women in power. I had never held any leadership positions before Hostmaker and I did not personally know many female leaders in the world of business.
The homestay management industry is very new and the best part of that is you get to be the trailblazer. If like me, your new industry is only just emerging, make the most of the opportunity! It’s a huge positive and very liberating.
To help you find your feet and establish yourself as a leader, I wanted to share some quick tips which helped me:
Firstly, it’s OK to get it wrong.
Most people are not born leaders. You have to learn, and you will make some mistakes. Be humble enough to accept your mistakes and learn from them. Your team will respect you more if you own up to mistakes that you have made.
Learn from the experts in other fields.
This sounds obvious, but it is something that took me a long time to get. There are so many examples of great leaders out there and most of them have written something about it. A great example is the Amazon leadership principles, which have served as a talisman for me, and Andy Grove’s seminal book, High Output Management. These are two books I regularly re-read. Andy’s book is written more as a guide for middle management and lays out basic principles of managing people in a simple and succinct manner. Even though the advice is coming from a range of people, leadership is ultimately about managing others and therefore the principles are the same everywhere.
Decide what your key principles are.
Every leader has a different priority when it comes to their style and it is important you decide what you care about and what you are not going to compromise on from the start. By being clear in your own mind, it will make communicating it to your surrounding team much easier. Most politics or unhappiness is a result of ambiguity on what is needed from the team, so make sure you have communicated it clearly and explained why it is important to you. Something that I value is candour in my team and it is something I have encouraged since day one. We try and speak the truth to each other and if someone receives tough feedback, they have to accept it without taking it personally. On the other hand, the giver of feedback needs to ensure the feedback is given in a bubble of care and with all the kindness in the world!
About the author:
Deepti Patankar is the Co-Founder and Head of Account Management at Hostmaker, Europe’s largest VC homestay management company. Since founding the company in 2014 with her husband Nakul, Deepti has been instrumental in the company’s growth, taking it from its London roots to being present in eight cities across Europe. Before starting Hostmaker, Deepti worked at Linklaters as a banking lawyer after winning a training contract from her university in Bangalore. Utilising her legal background, Deepti successfully negotiated the four rounds of funding for Hostmaker, helping the company raise over £20million – making Hostmaker one of the most well-funded start-ups in Europe.