As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” we had the pleasure of interviewing Batool Zaidi, Director Excelify Solutions and BeReal Wear.
As Director, Batool is responsible for the operational leadership of Excelify Solutions. Based in London, UK, Excelify Solutions have customers all over United Kingdom as well as Internationally. Batool is a highly successful and competitive direct/channel sales professional in her 15th year building and developing successful business practices. Numerous sales awards throughout her career prove her drive and result oriented mindset. She has high expectations of herself, her teams and thrive on the pursuit of excellence. Whilst her highly motivated approach and ambition drives sales on a daily basis, her thorough understanding and experience of the UK and international market allows her to develop medium and long term strategies for the continued growth of the businesses. She also brings a vast experience of international sales. She has worked with German Companies like Siemens, Jeremias, and have also worked in UAE. Batool has an Electrical Engineering Degree.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My background includes Sales, Project Management, Engineering, Marketing, Business Development and Leadership experience, as well as an Electrical Engineering Degree. I find it to be a great mix of experience as that has prepared me well for my roles as Director of Excelify Solutions and BeReal Wear. I started out in Engineering Sales with Siemens. I’ve been working with a number companies for around 15 years in UK and UAE.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
For both Excelify Solutions and BeReal Wear , there is not just one person, there are countless people that come to mind who have their trust in our services and products ; our customers, our vendors and supporters. They are essential to our success.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Both Excelify Solutions and BeReal Wear are purpose driven businesses. At Excelify Solutions I am proud to say that our vision and purpose has always been to be a trust worthy, transparent, result oriented and customer centric company and we work on that.
On the other hand BeReal Activewear is for everyone who wants to be unique and be real. Because we truly believe everyone is exceptional and unique in their own way and our clothing brand represents that and promotes being comfortable in your skin concept.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
I would suggest to be as transparent as possible with your customers and your team. Make yourself available, communicate honestly and don’t be afraid to have real conversations about challenges, planning, and expectations.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
For me, I enjoy the work that I do, the opportunities we create and the problems we solve. I am grateful our business is purpose driven, so there is a sense of fulfilment and making a positive impact. I can’t imagine anything else that I would rather be doing that would give me the same fulfillment.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
I’m a firm believer that no relationship, including business and professional relationships, can survive without trust. Also be empathic with your teams, be understanding and communicate consistently.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
Recognizing the hard work is a key way to motivate and engage the team. Take time to individually listen to them, let them know you are there for them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
Be sincere and truthful, also depending on the situation, follow up with a plan or next steps for how the situation can be improved or resolved.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
I would say, build a strategy, focus on work and on potential successes on the other side of uncertainty.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Always put people first, be the solution provider for your customers and employees.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
Settling for someone other than the best person for the job, not being proactive about what could happen in the future, lack of transparency to customers and employees.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Be transparent, creative, innovative and stay motivated. It sounds simple, but when it takes form, that’s when growth traction occurs.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
Optimism: Optimism can make a huge difference, when times are hard, your attitude and outlook can have a tremendous impact on customers and employees.
Consistency: Being consistent helps your team and customers believe in you. You gain trust through your actions and they know they can count on you when times are good or when times are hard.
Trust/ Transparency: Trust is built through transparency. We have never shied away from telling the truth to our team or our customers. We didn’t sugarcoat anything, we shared the facts, were clear in our strategies and kept an open line of communication.
Empathy and understanding: You never know what someone is going through, be sure not to lose the element of empathy. Let your customers and team know that you are there for them no matter what the issue is.
Show your passion for your work and company: Energy breeds energy. If you show up passionate and motivated about your work, that energy will likely rub off on others.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Honesty is the best policy.” — Aesop. This is my favorite life lesson quote and we follow it in all our business practices as well
How can our readers further follow your work?