As much as people strive for a sense of “normalcy,” the world is actually in a constant state of flux. And many struggle to adapt in the face of an evolving set of daily challenges. Great leaders are said to share a heightened ability to think outside of the box. Instead of continually reinventing wheels, they learn to do new and unexpected things with the tools already at hand, all while encouraging their people to do the same.
YPO member Dalya Tabari might well be considered a “business shape-shifter,” transforming herself multiple times as she has led teams in multiple industries across the globe. From junk food, cigarettes, and pharmaceutical companies to helping children in need, Tabari has adapted to new circumstances over and over throughout her career. Her first career was in advertising with Bates in New York where she managed accounts that included Pizza Hut, Johnson and Johnson, and British American Tobacco. A few years later she was recruited to head the global account for Lucky Strike Cigarettes. In 2003, Tabari joined the major pharmaceutical distributor IDS in the United Arab Emirates as their consumer marketing director where she focused on infant milk products and vitamins. Eventually, she was promoted to managing director of IDS, a position that she still holds.
Most recently in 2012, Tabari co-founded The Developing Child Centre, which provides support for children with the goal of helping them succeed in life and reach their full potential. Her own experience has been essential in helping young people to develop the flexibility and adaptability that will help them succeed in changing circumstances. She is glad to share her wisdom with grown ups too! Here are Tabari’s tips about how to build skills that will help a leader adapt in order to affect change and build strong teams.
1. Commit to your personal core values.
Tabari has been able to help many businesses succeed and quickly rise as a leader in multiple industries. Having core values allows her to stay resilient and adaptable when markets, companies, or life, in general, is in flux. According to Tabari, “thinking differently, being efficient, and being organized” are at the root of her value system. These core values have allowed her to switch from advertising, marketing, and managerial roles in diverse industries and eventually channel that commitment into co-founding the Developing Child Centre. Having your own clearly defined values can provide the solid ground that is needed to stay grounded when change is necessary.
2. Remember that everyone has something to offer.
Maintaining an open mind and finding value in each individual has enabled Tabari to see things that others might miss. She uses that skill to build a strong team of passionate individuals who are committed to the common goal of helping better the lives of children. “I try and learn a lesson from every individual I meet and every conversation I have,” Tabari says. Being open to learning from others and finding value in each conversation has enabled her to learn quickly and figure out how she can best impact those around her in a positive way.
3. Give clarity first priority.
Industries often change rapidly, and there is a high value in quickly selecting the right focus. Being able to think clearly has enabled Tabari to navigate multiple industries and multiple job titles with ease. She says it matters to “have clarity of thought and be able to take away that snow that sometimes [forms] on your head while not being overwhelmed.” Being able to sift through mountains of information and organize thoughts in a clear manner makes for more efficient and effective communication.
4. Get involved in your customer’s community.
It is a mistake to stay distant from one’s industry or colleagues. “Alienation and isolation will kill success,” Tabari says. Throughout her vibrant professional life, Tabari has been actively involved with industries that she works in, finding different ways to engage with her coworkers, other industry leaders, and customers. As a co-founder of the Developing Child Centre, Tabari noticed that 95% of children need some kind of help. She explains: “What we found is that a lot of people fear getting support because there is a stigmatism associated with it. The more I learned about the industry, the more I realized that I really wanted to be engaged actively and able to break down these barriers in order to get support because support can actually be quite expensive.” Engaging in the community reveals people’s needs, wants and concerns. Tabari was able to circumnavigate this fear and restructure the way aid is given and received.
5. Cultivate solutions-driven employees.
Some employees create problems, some point them out, and others solve them. According to Tabari, a leader should be able to differentiate between different types of employees and choose the ones who are driven towards finding solutions. At the Developing Child Centre, Tabari “hired a team of 60 professionals all with the mind to empower our children for them to feel confident.” Building up a confident team is just as important as building up confidence in children. Rewarding solutions-driven employees for being invested in solving problems helps create impactful teams.
6. Develop personal relationships with employees.
When people feel valued, they often want to make others feel equally valuable. At the Developing Child Centre, Tabari hired a team of 60 specialized professionals from all over the world who are dedicated to serving the 800 children who come to the Centre in need of assistance. According to Tabari, “The best way to show employees appreciation is giving a person time, knowing their name and stopping to talk to them.” Making employees feel like they matter motivates them to take ownership and initiative. Ultimately, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.