#StorytellerProgram: What Does Leadership Mean in 24Slides?

This article was written by Carla, Content Manager at 24Slides Peru, as part of 24Slides’ #StorytellerProgram.

When I began working at 24Slides almost five years ago, I didn’t expect to become a team manager. The Peru office had just begun, and we were a very small team of just nine people. 

However, over the years, our little Peru team kept building up: first with new designers and customer support people and then with other areas, like marketing, people’s success, and sales. With the growth in the number of employees, it was soon evident that we’d need on-site people to guide the different teams through the day-to-day aspects of the job, motivate them, and help each team grow. With the number of new colleagues, new leadership positions were soon needed

As the most senior marketing team member, I was assigned this manager role. I was very worried initially, as I had no previous experience in a leadership role. I had no idea where to begin or how to connect with my team. 

Luckily, 24Slides understands and commits to the importance of good leadership, and I was soon to learn that! 

What is Leadership, truly?

Leadership can mean many different things to different people, usually related to aspects such as authority, social currency and influence, and hierarchy. However, I discovered that leadership is a much different, more complex concept in 24Slides. 

24Slides’ main goal is to empower people in emerging countries, and as such, installing leadership roles in offices outside the Denmark headquarters is an essential part of this. While the main management team is in Copenhagen, local leaders who understand the culture and how their offices work are key to giving the other offices the tools to grow. 

24Slides prides itself on a “horizontal” hierarchy. Authority is not meant to be exercised by those with a higher rank unto those “below,” which makes leadership completely different from what it usually means in other companies.

Leadership is taken very seriously at 24Slides, as it is an essential part of the company’s core values: being bold, ambitious, and looking forward to continuing to grow. By picking good leaders who embody these attributes, these values “trickle down” to the rest of the team and, overall, to the whole office. 

However, aside from those leadership values that can be pretty common across many different companies, 24Slides taught me something else, too: Leadership is about caring. 

A long-expected visit

In November 2023, we received a very special visit: Louise, our Head of Operations, Gabi, our Head of People Success from Denmark, as well as Rizal and Angger, the Heads of Support and Design, respectively, from Malang, took the long journey to the Peru office. 

Their visit was meant to create tighter bonds between the different offices and provide a space for workshops and developing technical skills more effectively than for designers and support members alike. 

However, it also had a key goal related to the brand-new roles: leadership training. While many of the team managers were already acting managers, we hadn’t had any coaching regarding how to support our team as better leaders. 

The visit was the perfect opportunity to learn the soft skills necessary to learn more about what leadership means in 24Slides and how we can help our team grow in turn. 

Gabi, 24Slides’ People Success Head, said it better: 

“It’s important that people feel as comfortable as they can when stepping into a leadership position. It’s both for themselves, so they can feel that they’re not just being promoted and leaving them to figure out how to do this leadership thing on their own, but also for their people. Promoting the right people into leadership positions has a ripple effect. If we give the leaders the right tools and support and help them reflect on themselves and find their own leadership style, we enable them to become better people and better leaders, but we also enable their team to feel better. Through leadership, teams gain a better potential to succeed, both professionally and as people, and that’s worth the investment.”

The magic of feedback 

I’ve always felt very intimidated by both giving and receiving feedback, and it was the thing I was dreading the most when I became a team manager. 

However, in the leadership sessions with Gabi, she gave us a completely new way to frame feedback. It is an essential part of leadership precisely because it aligns with one of 24Slides’ core values: showing ‘We Care.’ 

While feedback can sometimes feel harsh, it must come from a place of caring. It’s not meant to criticize but rather to illuminate things that might not be working as well as they should. And precisely because you care about your team, their well-being, and their work, we must give feedback in a thoughtful way. 

We learned that trust is key to both giving and receiving feedback. Teams should be able to trust that there is a safe space to convey their comments and that they will be heard. But it also means they have enough trust in you to understand that your feedback comes from a place of caring to work together even better.  

One Gabi helped us reframe it this way, feedback was no longer so scary after all!

Learning to be a leader, one step at a time

Trust is something that’s built slowly, over time, and that’s why true leadership is not a one-time action but a mindset.  

There’s no one “right” way to be a leader, and that’s precisely why it’s a process. These workshops were a great stepping stone to begin to think of ourselves as leaders of our teams in more just than a “technical” sense, and rather, beginning to think about how we can help and empower our teams to become even better. 

For us, our journey as team leaders began through Gabi’s coaching. From these sessions, we had 3 important takeaways: 

  1. There are different ways to approach leadership, and you must find a way to do it that’s authentic to yourself. Even if you try to mimic someone who has the “right” approach, it will not feel sincere and will not create trust among your team.
  2. Feedback is hard, and it’s alright to admit it! Many people either feel like they need to be the “bad guy” and toughen up or, on the contrary, shy away from the awkwardness and discomfort. You need to find your own way of giving feedback and the tools to make it a truly growing experience for all involved. 
  3. Listen and trust your team. Being aware of who your team is and the differences between them is key to understanding what kind of help and support they need from you as a leader. 

The role of 24Slides as a company that cares about empowering its employees was to give us the necessary tools to create these changes in ourselves and in our team. We were given workshops on the different tools we use to promote team building and to listen to our team’s opinions. There are also many management and people skills courses through our 24Academy platform. 

We also began “leadership forums.” It was important for us to recognize that we’re not alone in the process of becoming better leaders and that asking for help and learning from one another is a good thing. That’s why, once every three months, people in leadership positions get together to discuss situations and challenges we’ve met in our teams, give advice to one another, and think about how we can improve our leadership skills. 

Overall, it was great to recognize that these changes were not expected to happen overnight and that we were encouraged to find our own approach to leadership and to grow into the role.

All of this made stepping into a manager role less daunting and a more thoughtful and introspective experience than I was expecting. I learned a lot about what true leadership means—but also about myself. 

Leadership in 24Slides is more about learning the right tools to guide and empower your own team so they can, in turn, grow and improve. It’s a growth mentality where those with more experience can help the people on their teams directly. Leadership in 24Slides means guiding and making decisions for the team, yes, but it also means listening to people, enabling them with the right tools, and overall just serving as an example to others. 

Leadership was never something I was particularly interested in. But in 24Slides, I not only learned how important leadership is to empower people and become a better team, but it also got me excited to be able to help my team and empower them to reach ever greater heights.