There are many textbook definitions of a leader. While everyone knows how to be a boss, not everyone is acutely aware of what it means to be a leader.
Salina Salli, fondly known as Sally to both her cohorts and clients, has made it her business to find the balance between the two and assist companies in defining their approach to leadership.
Her training and consulting experience has helped a myriad of world brands from various industries including Allo Technologies, BOSH Thailand, TAR University, Mahsa University, Fibertex, Amway, LHDN, HSBC Bank, Bank Islam Malaysia and more.
A sought-after trainer and speaker who has trained and mentored more than 1,000 aspiring leaders, her perspectives are shaped by a unique blend of hands-on leadership experience spanning more than 15 years in some of the biggest names in the telco industry including Telekom Malaysia and Celcom Axiata.
These opportunities gave her a unique perspective into developing a business and understanding the complexity of managing human relationships in a workplace context.
Inspired by her newfound passion for empowering individuals to develop their leadership potential in early state of their careers, she decided to make the transition from corporate employee to establishing Digital Dolphin Academy in 2019.
With Digital Dolphin Academy, Salina hopes to develop authentic leaders determined to make an impact in their organisations, and most importantly, the people that they are leading. Which, according to Salina, means making the unpopular but right decision and having that difficult conversation with the team.
“One of the keys focuses of DDA's approach to leadership development is creating growth that is sustainable and inclusive as we believe it is critical for long-term success and teaches leadership development with these principles in mind,” explains Salina.
As someone who has been on both sides of the spectrum, both having led a team to teaching others how they can better lead theirs, she shares that the one element that draws the line between what makes someone a boss versus a leader is one’s reliance on authority and control.
She’s found that bosses often use authority to push their subordinates to get things done, while the role of a leader shouldn’t have to utilize these methods, rather they should influence and inspire their team members to achieve both own personal and professional goals.
“To be an effective leader, one needs to develop the characteristic of knowing how to develop genuine and deeper relationship with the team and ensure everyone in the team understand the vision and able to work together to produce results.”
So, what kind of leader does Salina see herself as? “Personally, I do walk my talk. My priority as a leader is to remove any unnecessary obstacles for my team to perform at their level best.”
“At whatever position I was, I focus on creating a positive and open environment where everyone in the team is free to express their thoughts and opinion. This is what makes me an authentic leader.”
Since founding the leadership development training centre, Salina has sought to expand her entrepreneurial footprint. Following the success of Digital Dolphin Academy, she sought to bring her expertise to the younger genetation of future leaders with Thynker Academy in 2020 to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in kids and inspire them to think outside the box, solve problems, and follow their passions.
In the coming years, Salina and her fellow trainers envision that leadership development will become even more important as the business landscape continues to evolve rapidly, with technology continuing to play an increasingly important role in learning and development.
To stay ahead, the team aims to create engaging and interactive learning experiences, with plans to integrate cutting-edge technologies such as AI and machine learning into their curriculum and hopes to partner with universities, non-profits, and other businesses to create customized programs suited to their needs.
Thinking big, Digital Dolphin is looking to expand their roots with a full-fledge training centre in several key business areas in the country to meet a demand for specific skills or training in communities, allowing them to a venue for the community to engage, network and learn new skills to further strengthen their personal leadership development.
“Overall, our goal is to be at the forefront of leadership development, continually adapting and innovating to meet the evolving needs of learners and organizations in the country.”
Penny For Your Thoughts
If you could be anyone—fictional or non-fictional—, who would it be and why?
I choose to be the Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman is a fictional superhero who embodies strength, courage, and compassion. She is a powerful symbol of female empowerment and has inspired generations of girls and women to be strong and fearless in pursuing their goals and dreams
Advice you would give your younger self.
Don’t worry so much about what people think about you. Just focus on doing what you think it’s right. Be your true to yourself and do not try to be someone else just so you will fit it. Sometime being the odd one out is a good thing.