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In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Telenor has learned a few things about what it takes to lead in a flexible work environment. The company has embraced the tight-loose-tight principle. That means being tight on setting expectations and giving direction, loose on giving people the freedom to find the best way, and then tight again on the follow-up and holding people accountable.
We found a few leaders across the Telenor family who have been working this way for a while. Sadat Ibne Zaman is one of those leaders.
What did you want to be when growing up?
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a scientist. I was fascinated with Science and thought that search for the secrets of the universe was the coolest job to do. While realities of life moved me to other fields, I remain an ardent follower of scientific exploration. That means I try to live by logic and rationality in my own small world.
When did you become a leader?
My first leadership experience was back in 2011, when I took the role of Head of Financial Planning in Grameenphone. My role was to driving the planning process across the company along with frequent interaction with the management team. While it was a tiny unit of three, the role itself gave me a significant cross-functional leadership opportunity.
What’s your leadership philosophy?
Leadership is a long term relationship that accumulates the goodwill generated through every interaction. I believe mutual trust and compassionate support are the most important elements to build a team that aims to achieve both success and harmony. If we think of Tight-Loose-Tight, the ‘Loose’ part will only happen if the leader trusts the team’s commitment. Also, the team feels that they have the safe-space to take decisions and give their best effort.
What’s the greatest challenge you face as a leader?
To discover how our team can contribute a significant and sustained positive impact for the business and workplace. Significant positive change should always be the goal.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by anyone, an average person or an international icon, stepping out of his/her own self-interest to serve a benevolent purpose. It can be a doctor volunteering for the poor, a politician fighting for minority rights, or a billionaire philanthropist trying to solve global problems.
What’s the one thing you want to do once all the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted?
I would love to regain the freedom of human closeness. That could be a handshake, a nice conversation with, a hug for friend after long time, or a celebration with colleagues. I hope that Covid-19 doesn’t leave us more isolated than before.