Employees will only be dedicated and motivated when they trust their employers.

Avinash is an international fintech and payments leader with over a decade and half years of experience in 12 countries across 5 continents. Have worked in leadership roles in digital payments, fintech, and cash management businesses in the product, sales, marketing, strategy, technology, and operations roles.

As an MD & CEO of Zaggle, Avinash has played a critical role in pivoting Zaggle to create a mobile-first, tech-focused company while continuing to grow rapidly to 120 employees and $ 13M+ revenues in FY '17.

His specialties are - Product development, Sales, Innovation, go-to-market strategy, building businesses, Ability to get things done.

Thank you, Avinash, for agreeing to do this interview with us. Kindly be as candid as you can.
Let's Start!!!
What are THREE leadership lessons you learned in the last 12-months?

The pandemic has tested us in several ways, it has created many challenges for us as an organisation on multiple fronts. However, dealing with the challenges has been a good learning curve for us an organisation and I as a leader. As the MD & CEO of Zaggle, here are the three key leadership lessons that I have learnt during these unprecedented times.

Acknowledging team efforts: Valuing the efforts of every team member is the need of the hour. The pandemic has posed innumerable challenges which could be overcome only due to the efforts of our invaluable team members who worked and are working round the clock to ensure smooth operations of our business. So, as business leaders it is our responsibility to ensure the well-being of our employees by periodically checking on them, and making sure they feel appreciated for their efforts. Which further motivates them and brings out the best in them.

Maintaining interpersonal communication: As a leader, engaging in regular interpersonal communication with the team members has helped in building mutual trust. Besides, periodic interactions not only prevent misunderstandings within a team, but also strengthens the bond and further ensures all employees are in sync with the organisation's goals and interest.

Empathy: The current times have been incredibly tough for all of us, and especially employees considering the WFH experience can be challenging at times. Hence, leaders must not only understand their employees, but also empathize with them, considering in the present times employees are the biggest assets of any organisation.

On the basis of your experiences in the last 12-months, what are THREE things Business Leaders should START Doing, STOP Doing, and CONTINUE doing?

As a business leader, the last twelve months have been a great teacher. Being at the forefront of my business, I have learned that as a leader you need to deploy the six 'C's as effectively as possible. This would include: confidence, calmness, compassion, communication, community and collaboration. As soon as a leader starts practicing these 6 virtues it will do wonders for him/her.

During these uncertain times, it is necessary that organisation leaders keep calm while achieving their business goals; simultaneously inspiring confidence and showcasing compassion for all the employees.

Besides, it is also important that the leaders maintain a 2-way communicational channel, rather than a uni-directional one to stem confusion and miscommunication.

Moreover, being a leader at times is necessary to stop being in the driver's seat, and rather fuel innovation and collaboration among employees. Which could allow innovative business solutions and ideas to come up and generate interesting prepositions.

Lastly, a leader should continue following his goals and objectives for his business. Times are hard, but that does not mean you have to bench your objectives for the year. A leader should continue to be passionate and flexible to adapt to the current times and to achieve success in his/her business.

"TRUST and FOCUS" are TWO critical elements in developing high-performing teams and driving results. In these times of the VUCA world where remote working is a new normal, how you and your team are working to ensure TRUST among your team members and to stay focused. How is technology helping in these regards?

Trust and focus are the key elements that need to be focused upon during the pandemic. And we have realized that both of these elements go hand in hand. Employees will only be dedicated and motivated when they trust their employers. At a time when companies are laying off and benching their employees, it becomes the responsibility of every leader to gain and maintain the trust of their employees. And we on our part ensure, that our core leadership is in regular contact with the employees to understand the varied challenges they may be facing, and how can we resolve them.

We have been friendly and approachable to all the employees, and ensure our actions meet our words. Besides, we know and completely understand that WFH is new and there is an increased possibility of mistakes while working remotely, and hence we have been considerate of the mistakes, made by our team members and try to resolve them amicably. When it comes to technology it has a been a boon during these times, as it allows us to connect freely with our employees through video chats and calls and get periodic updates. Additionally, we have provided them with laptop computers and other necessary electronic devices to ensure the smooth functioning of work.

As an individual, how has the year of the pandemic affected you? What changes, professional and personal, does it bring into your life?

As an individual, the previous one year has bought significant highs and lows. Having never imagined such a situation, the pandemic placed extraordinary demands on us. As an individual, it was quite stressful and emotionally disturbing to overcome the unknown and unseen hurdles. However, overcoming those challenges, has been a milestone achievement for me and my business.

The pandemic has taught me that self- care is quite important in order to tackle the unprecedented challenges lying ahead. This in turn has helped me to stay cool and calm, even when things aren't working the way originally intended to. Besides, I have learnt that leaders cannot solve all problems by themselves and need active support and participation of their workforce when it comes to; devising, implementing and executing business strategies. Which has further helped me realize the strengths of my team and the need to work in close conjunction to achieve personal and business growth.

In a nutshell, the pandemic has helped me to become resilient, have faith in my workforce and be more organized and lastly not abandon my ideals and viewpoints in the face of one of the biggest crises plaguing humanity.

What is your message for those students who will be graduating during this difficult time? How should they keep their morale high and stay motivated?

The Covid-19 crisis is a black swan of sorts, which has led to a lot of uncertainty among everyone, especially the students of our country. However, students must not lose focus and stay motivated towards achieving their career goals, which would allow them to pass these exceptional times. Hope and courage to face all odds that come in the way becomes a pivotal point for all the students graduating this year. Given the situation, it may be twice as difficult to land a job at current but being devoted and resilient will help to not lose focus during these times. Besides, it is also important to remind yourself to be okay with not being productive every day. On such days, it is important that you prioritize your tasks and take the day off. Taking care of themselves and their mental health should also be one of the top priorities of students.

Besides, being in touch with their friends and close ones is helpful, as it allows one to offload their worries and feel comforted. Which will further motivate them to achieve their goals and ambitions.

Lastly, students should try upskilling their skill set in their free time, as one thing the global health crisis has taught is the rise of the gig economy coupled with recruiters and companies, preferring candidates who have niche skills and skills which are relevant to the current needs.

Thank you, Avinash, for your insights.
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