An interview with Melanie Sibraa – Leadership, peer judgement and an engaged culture

An interview with Melanie Sibraa – Leadership, peer judgement and an engaged culture

April 24, 2017 by Stella Petrou Concha

In today’s instalment of the Reo interview series, we sat down with Shared Services Director of Lion Pty Ltd, Melanie Sibraa to discuss successful leadership practices, peer judgement, overcoming obstacles and beyond. 

1. What is the one thing that you have done daily that you believe has contributed to your success? Why?

The one thing that I do daily which I believe has contributed to my success is to record three good things that happen each day. I’m not aiming to write down three things I’m grateful for, but rather provide myself with an opportunity to reflect on what I enjoyed, achieved or appreciated that day. For me, this has been an essential tool in helping me to succeed as it allows me the opportunity to identify the small achievements that can have a significant benefit to yourself but also others, and appreciate the little things in life. It is a way for me to manage myself, and my mindset to focus on the positive things, and for me, to also help instil a level of appreciation for those that I choose to surround myself with. You never know what impact small things can have on yourself or others.

2. What do you believe are the key behaviours that the best leaders possess?

In my experience, the best leaders that I have been able to work with, and for me the behaviours that I feel are necessary in order to be successful as a leader are resilience and authenticity. For me these are key, you can’t fake authenticity and in the current environment as leaders you are constantly faced with change and challenges, and being resilient and composed when faced with these changes and challenges creates a level of comfort with the team. If you are authentic and resilient, you have the ability to develop strong connections with those that you are leading, and that connection is further developed by giving a little bit of yourself back to the team. Other behaviours that are key are the ability to keep promises, for me that develops a high level of trust with those that you are involved in and an ability to effectively collaborate. Keeping promises and delivering on these, as well as effectively collaborating help develop strong stakeholder relationships to support and achieve ongoing initiatives and business objectives to drive value.

3. Has mindset played a part in your success? What has been your winning mindset?

Mindset has definitely played a part in my success. For me, the ability to effectively manage your mindset – to be more open and less restrictive – allows you the opportunity to view things from different perspectives, which therefore allows you as an individual and as a leader the opportunity to look for broader opportunities within the team and bring in external perspectives. [What’s been your winning mindset?] My winning mindset has been a positive, future-focused mindset. It’s the ability to be balanced in your perspectives but also having one eye on the future, which creates a vision for your team. It can support you in creating a future goal for yourself and establish a personal brand and vision that supports your values. It is important to manage you mindset so that you don’t slip into a potentially negative and restrictive mindset when being faced with the day-to-day activities or challenges as this can limit your effectiveness and success as a leader.

How do you overcome judgment

4. Have you ever faced judgement from others? (or from yourself?) How have you overcome judgements and continued on?

Yes! I made a decision to step away from the more technical finance roles to develop my leadership skills which was a goal of mine. This meant that I moved from a Financial Reporting role into a Shared Services team. During this transition I have had the ability to develop strong leadership skills, as well as personally grow and develop in other key areas such as strategy development and project management. This experience, I feel, has been invaluable and has supported me greatly in my key achievements. However, what this means for me right now as I look for my next career move is that I am being judged based on my title and not my responsibilities, key achievements, or qualifications.

For me, titles have never been important, what is important for me, and this is something that I was passionate about when recruiting team members, has been key accountabilities and achievements of the individual. What I have been doing in order to overcome this has been about building awareness with those individuals that I’m networking with, having a real sense of achievement and accomplishment in what I have delivered. I have tried to bridge the gap in helping people understand and highlight the differences in the current role that I have actually that are fundamentally different to the traditional shared service roles and the environment in which I have been working in. For me, what I have done in the last couple of years in these roles is something that I am incredibly proud of. There has been significant change and leadership achievements that I have been involved in throughout my career that I am proud of, and the learnings I have gained from this will support me as I continue in my career.

5. How do you develop a cohesive and engaged culture in your team?

In order for a leader to develop a cohesive and engaged culture, what I feel is core to delivering on this is developing a safe and collaborative environment, where individuals have the opportunity to learn and grow by experimenting and sharing experiences with each other. This can be achieved by developing a strong, cohesive leading group that is clear on expectations of each other, supportive of their peers and also their team, is open to different perspectives and is authentic in their leadership style. It’s about being honest with the team and with yourself and owning up to mistakes, but being able to learn from this. A highly engaged team is a team that is empowered to make decisions, but feels supported should they need help, while at the same time providing them with meaningful experiences in their roles, developing them as individuals and also about having a laugh.

6. What is a final piece of advice that you can leave for others today?

The final piece of advice that I would like to leave is staying true to yourself and your values. Understand what your personal brand is and what you value and never let that go.

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