Curiosity, Passion and Leadership: What Drives This HR Advisory Leader

Sponsored by Gartner

Ania Krasniewska Shahidi

Photo courtesy of Gartner.

Fairygodboss
Fairygodboss
May 18, 2024 at 4:18AM UTC
Ania Krasniewska Shahidi believes leaders make time for their own confidence. After all, she has learned a thing or two after building a 15-year career at the world’s largest research and advisory company. “Confidence counts for more than you think. You need it to make the case for yourself as a leader before anyone else will make it for you” she says.
Thankfully at Gartner, where Shahidi leads the advisory function in the HR business unit, she’s been consistently supported (and promoted), making the need to push for what she wants less of a necessity. But she remembers what it was like to move into a leadership role, which is why she believes in supporting her team as much as possible. 
“People give a tremendous amount of time and energy to our team, but it is part of my job to realize when they’re giving too much,” she says. “The best thing you can give your team is the permission to say ‘no’. It’s my priority that anyone working with me has a better career story to tell on December 31 than they did on January 1 in any given year. I will move mountains to make that happen.”
Read on to learn more about Shahidi’s career journey, how she got to where she is today and what makes her a successful leader at the world’s largest research and advisory company. 
Tell us about your job and how your work has changed since moving into a leadership position.
We’re a team of over 100 advisors, executive education experts and data analytics pros all around the world that help heads of HR solve their biggest problems. At Gartner, we have invested a lot in our systems, coaching and talent to set up everyone for success. When I moved into a leadership role, I had to shift from executing my own job at a high level to enabling my team to execute theirs. Throughout my career, I have learned that the most effective way to lead is to spend a lot of time listening. Listen to understand rather than to respond. It’s the best way to get the information you need to make a decision. I feel like I can always do this better, so I set the intention to try to get a little better each time.
What’s your best advice for other women moving into leadership?
Confidence counts for more than you think. "You need to make the case for yourself (and sometimes, to yourself) to be a leader before anyone else will make it for you."
What’s the no. 1 thing you hope your direct reports get out of working with you?
It’s my priority that anyone working with me has a better career story to tell on December 31 than they did on January 1 in any given year. I will move mountains to make that happen. People give a tremendous amount of time and energy to our team, but it is part of my job to realize when they’re giving too much. One of the best things you can give your team is the permission to say “no.” to the things that matter less, so that individuals can say yes instead to the things that matter most to them.  Those might be in their career goals or their personal goals, but I strive to create an environment where we can create space to meet those goals.
What’s enabled you to develop your career and find success?
Staying with the same company for 15 years has afforded me stability and expertise in our industry, but shifting my roles has opened up doors to new people, new approaches and a deeper understanding of what we do.
Aside from the first role I had at the company, every subsequent job didn’t exist when I walked in the door. Most of my roles were either new jobs I got tapped for or were created for me. Being known as someone who can adapt opens doors that accelerate your career.
All my leaders have been formative, but the most effective one spoke in quick shorthand about where I was, and wasn’t, being successful. Although the packaging of the messages was sometimes tough, the clarity helped me progress tremendously. The most influential leader I’ve had was the boss that gave me my first big, stretch leadership role. He went to bat for me professionally, so he ended up not only a mentor, but also a sponsor of my professional growth.
What’s something at work you’re especially good at and what skill are you working to improve?
I’m good at seeing what’s coming down the line and building processes that help get us there even faster. Also, I always find something funny to laugh about, even on the hardest days. 
I am working on improving my patience. I try to consider the human behind any request, email or complaint. Seeing things through a human lens helps you lead with empathy, which is something we all need more of.  
What’s the career move you’re most proud of?
My husband is a diplomat, and I’m proud I’ve found ways to build my own career abroad. Those moves (no pun intended) were great experiences that have added to my overall portfolio and given me exposure to different teams, cultures, and work styles.
What has led you to stay at your company?
At first, I thought I would be here for a transitional year. Fifteen years later, I’m still here. I’ve worked in multiple departments and countries and led multiple teams, so I always felt I was learning and growing, it never felt like one job.
Ultimately, my teams are a big part of why I stay.  I’m constantly learning from all of my team members about our business, about growth, and about new ways that we can work better together.  The environment is never static here, and I love the fantastic group we have built so that we can figure out the next steps together.
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