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Unlocking Leadership Brilliance: Exploring a Remarkable Learning Expedition with Great Manager Institute

Sharmilaa Kannan



Sharmilaa Kannan, our Vice President of Human Resources, has been honored with the Great Manager Institute’s Top 100 Great People Manager Award 2023. It's an incredible achievement, and it marks the fourth leadership award that Sharmilaa has earned during her tenure at Kensium. Other awards include winning a spot on the Top 10 Best HR Leaders in India 2022, receiving the ZeeNews Women in Leadership Award, and being featured in Xobin’s  "Top HR influencers and HR leaders to follow in 2023” under Strategic Leadership and Workforce Planning category. 

When news of the 2023 award was released, Kensium’s co-founder and CPO, Rahul Gedupudi shared the following statement. “I am proud to see Sharmilaa winning this award! It is a validation of her excellent leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills. She is a great team player and a positive influence on our work culture and this award is a validation of what we have always known.”  

Read about Sharmilaa’s journey to success, in her own words, below.  

Unlocking Leadership Brilliance: Exploring a Remarkable Learning Expedition with Great Manager Institute 

Great Manager Institute (GMI) has assessed over 40,000 managers from about 5000 organizations in the last 4 years. Winning the prestigious 100 Great Managers Award has been an incredible honor, and validates my dedication to effective people management.   

This year GMI partnered with The National HRD Network (NHRDN) to create a 5 layered process for the evaluation of great managers across the country.  

Throughout this learning journey, I had the opportunity to assess my strengths and weaknesses, enhance my leadership skills, and gain invaluable insights from the GMI community. It's been an incredibly transformative experience that has shaped my leadership style. I want to take a moment to remember this remarkable year-long journey, spanning through 5 different assessment layers, and highlight the key takeaways from it. 

Understanding My People Management Effectiveness: 

The journey began with a team survey and scores, providing me with a comprehensive understanding of my people management effectiveness. The survey enabled me to gauge how my team perceived my leadership and identify areas where I could improve. The feedback I received was instrumental in acknowledging both my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to develop a holistic view of my leadership style. 

Their Connect, Develop & Inspire framework is instrumental in understanding one’s “people manager effectiveness score” and areas to focus on. The next step was to submit people practices which were evaluated by a jury of two experts for impact. Managers who achieved the threshold score moved to the next round. Only managers who did not receive negative feedback were considered for the next round.  After a series of evaluations, I was paired with the Top Industry CXO for a mentoring session. The last step of the evaluation was a reputation check. Afterward, the final list of the Top 100 Managers was derived. 

Journey: Enhancing People Management Skills: 

One of the most impactful aspects of this learning journey was the opportunity to assess my performance against benchmark scores. Comparing my progress with industry standards and other successful managers pushed me to strive for excellence and continuously improve my skills. It was both humbling and motivating to see how I measured up against these benchmarks. These provided me with constructive insight into my growth as a leader. 

Self-Reflection and Personal Growth: 

Throughout the learning journey, I discovered several aspects of my own leadership style that I had not previously considered. The process of self-reflection allowed me to identify my inherent strengths and leverage them effectively. Additionally, it helped me acknowledge my weaknesses and develop strategies to overcome them. 

The supportive community within the GMI played a crucial role in my personal growth. Engaging with like-minded managers, sharing experiences, and exchanging ideas allowed me to gain fresh perspectives as well as learn from the successes of others. The mentoring session in the last leg of the journey gave me an opportunity to interact with industry leaders, and this was the icing on the cake. The mentoring interaction was crucial in helping me understand the nuances of being a great manager. The power of collaboration and mentorship was evident, as I received invaluable guidance from seasoned professionals who were willing to share their best practices. 

It has been a privilege to win the 100 Great Managers Award, let alone experience such a transformative learning journey. The team survey and subsequent e-learning program allowed me to assess my people management effectiveness, refine my leadership skills, and learn from the best in the field. Access to the GMI community and exposure to benchmark scores have undoubtedly propelled my growth as a manager. 

As I continue my journey, I am grateful for everything. All aspects of this journey so far have shaped me into a more effective leader. I am confident that the lessons gained through this program will continue to influence my approach to people management. I am excited to contribute to the development and success of my team in new and innovative ways. 

The 100 Great Managers Award not only recognizes achievement, but it provides me with an invaluable platform to grow, learn, and inspire others. I am committed to nurturing my skills, sharing my insights, and making a positive impact in the realm of people management. 

If you are a manager who is looking to improve your leadership skills, I highly recommend applying for the 100 Great Managers Award. The learning journey is a real opportunity to learn from the best in the business as well as make a real difference in your team. 



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