Sirish Samba, president and CEO of Sambatek, shares how relying on hospitality and core values can get you through tough leadership phases. Sirish is a first-generation immigrant from India, and he walks through how that experience informs his leadership, community involvement, and vision.
Sirish recalls that when he was a child in India, his family moved from a village to a city so that his sister could attend school. One day, Sirish and his mother went on a picnic in their new city and came across a statue of Sir Arthur Cotton, an engineer from England. In the 19th century, Cotton built a dam to prevent the city’s river from flooding the area each year when the monsoons came. As soon as he learned Cotton’s story, Sirish knew he wanted to become an engineer and be a positive force in his community, regardless of where he lived.
Overcome Adversity With Optimism
Sirish shares that facing difficulties and celebrating triumphs is only possible with a positive mindset. He carries uncanny authority when he speaks to the power of mindset — Sirish was appointed CEO of a company with 12 million dollars of debt during the 2008 recession.
[13:07] “The obstacle becomes the way . . . your faculties will rise to the occasion and whatever insurmountable obstacles there are, if you put your mind to it, you will find a path through those hurdles.”
Sirish risked everything to save the company and his employees’ jobs. He assumed the company’s debt and paid it off, demonstrating fierce loyalty and creative problem solving.
You cannot do the same thing and expect different results. Sirish found that as soon as he filled his company with people who shared the same values, tackling their debt and becoming offensive players became much easier. Quoting Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Sirish emphasizes that facing obstacles means leading with brute optimism and fierce passion.
Righteousness Will Protect You
Sirish points to his parents as his first examples of strong leadership. His father was a force of righteousness and his mother was compassionate, forgiving, and an excellent listener. Sirish summarizes his leadership with the phrase his parents had above the door of their house: Protect righteousness and righteousness will protect you.
Never underestimate the value of a good mentor. Sirish attests that without guidance from former bosses, business leaders, and even books on leadership, making a life and successful career in the United States would have been a nearly impossible challenge.
Leadership Is Teamwork
Sirish emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence, especially in the engineering field. He says practicing emotional intelligence helps you communicate the value your work offers to individuals and the community — and helps you improve your work by considering how it will impact others.
[26:53] “Understanding the totality of what you’re doing and not just the engineering situation . . . is very important.”
Like every leader, Sirish has had his share of feeling stuck. If you feel stuck in your leadership, he recommends:
- Spend time in prayer.
- Surround yourself with good men and women who share your core values.
- Consult your leadership team and your family.
Leadership is not a task to be undertaken alone. Seek advice and let others work through problems with you.
Generosity Fuels Strong Leadership
The greatest joy Sirish receives from his work is the ability to enhance the lives of his employees, clients, and their communities. Love for others is the foundation of his leadership.
Sirish urges young leaders to pay forward the mentorship and kindness they receive. Have a vision for yourself and your future, while also attending to the business at hand. Recognize that today is important, even if it only seems ordinary. Great leaders are formed when they live the details of their day well.
- Sirish’s website
Also Mentioned In This Episode:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey