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30 Best Leaders to Watch 2021

Adam Ikar, CEO of EqualWeb: ‘I always start with the company’s larger goals and then work down to each employee’s individual goals’

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The web was basically designed to work for all people, irrespective of their language, software, hardware, ability, or location. However, as we move forward, many tools and sites in recent times are being developed with accessibility barriers that make it very difficult for few people to use the web. Accessibility plays an important role for organizations and developers who want to create high-quality web tools and websites. Companies like EqualWeb help enterprises achieve this goal with their excellent offerings.

EqualWeb is a groundbreaking company that is tackling the important issue of web accessibility. Founded in 2014, the company’s web accessibility technology offers advanced functionalities (tools) that enable individuals living with various disabilities to browse the web. Leading this innovative company from the front is Adam Ikar, CEO of EqualWeb. His leadership has inspired the company to maintain its splendid upward trajectory since its inception. We interviewed Adam Ikar recently to get his views on leadership styles and his take on them. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Q. How do you ensure your organization and its activities are aligned with your core values?

At EqualWeb, we are focused on our goal of making the world’s websites accessible for people with disabilities. To stay aligned to this goal, we have diverse group of people in our organizations. We also hire people with disabilities to do QA and user-experience testing for our solutions. Our firm works side-by-side with disabled people, accessibility experts, organizations for the blind, and many more, to ensure our products truly help them in their daily lives.

Q. How would you describe your leadership style?

Leadership should be a mix of more than one style to ensure that a company’s mission and vision are clear and aligned with purposeful values. This will make it easier for a leader to set effective goals and engage the workforce in the right way, positively.

As a leader, my leadership style involves a mix of providing hands-on coaching, and helping employees undergo transformation while sticking to the company’s vision. I begin with the company’s larger goals and then work down to each employee’s individual goals. One way of doing this is by offering individual coaching to the employees at the workplace. This gives them the clear picture on why they are working on a certain project and how their work contributes to the mission and vision of the company. I also focus on aligning our team’s motivations to produce the best outcomes.

Q. As a successful leader, how do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

At EqualWeb, we encourage our employees to do their best and make mistakes. This way we place importance on learning experiences. This means that the employees have the necessary freedom from the demand of perfection that conventional workplaces stress on. Mistakes need to be allowed to create a conducive environment of learning at the workplace. While most best-selling books of today give out tips to do the right thing, and making the right moves, it is important to make mistakes. Because ultimately, we learn from the mistakes we make. Besides, an environment where mistakes are allowed creates a workplace where onus is placed on higher quality and productivity.

In today’s data-driven world, leaders often emphasize on where employees and teams have gone wrong. But new data will still emerge tomorrow, showing us the errors of today. That does not mean we were necessarily wrong with the work done today. So, making mistakes must be encouraged. That’s how we learn and improve – fast. We foster creativity at EqualWeb.

Q. How can leaders ensure the continuous growth and development of the employees?

A famous quote reads, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

At the modern workplace, it is very important to ensure the success and growth of employees if you want to succeed. Many times, leaders fail to make out the strong correlation between the company revenue, retention and the overall success of the employees. Employees are important and it is essential that companies keep up with their employees and help them continue to develop and grow. For this, you must do one-on-one meetings with them, talk about their goals, and motivate them to reach their goals. This will engage and motivate them to continually deliver better results while improving your relationship with them as well.

Organizations must place emphasis on investing in the personal and professional development of the employees. Companies must help employees accomplish their goals by helping them enrich their knowledge, take courses, do volunteer-work, innovate, and travel. If you really want them to have happy, and fulfilling careers, you need to embrace the fact that they won’t work for you forever. You must place onus on always respecting them for the hard work they put in for your company. Let them know you have that belief and help them develop.

Q. What do you most like about your career?

Being a sales-oriented person, what I like to do most is, over-achieve my sales goals and hit KPIs consistently. I like the idea of winning big deals and industry-wide respected clients. As a leader, I love solving problems for a large organization like EqualWeb. My whole career has been built around creating new products from the ground up, or joining companies in their early stages to create something new that is actually used by many people. Doing something that has a real impact on our world in some way is my main source of satisfaction.

Q. If not a business leader, what else would you wish to be?

A consultant, or a lawyer, or both.

Q. Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

I would say Elon Musk as first thought. He has changed the way entrepreneurship and leadership is viewed today. His visionary thinking and work ethic is unmatched, which is inspiring. I also admire Hamdi Ulukaya, the talismanic leader of Chobani, the #1 yogurt brand in America. His emphasis on taking care of the employees first instead of focusing on maximizing shareholder returns is nothing short of disruptive. He has shown tremendous courage by taking positions on social issues and being accountable despite leading a major company, which is highly admirable. His work is bound to inspire many more entrepreneurs and appeal to the conscience of companies to help communities in which they operate in. I would highly recommend his inspiring TED Talk “the Anti-CEO Playbook.” He has a great life story, and his leadership style is very inspiring. I would recommend that everyone see this video.

Q. If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out as an entrepreneur, what would it be?

For a person who is starting out, it is important that he/she is looking to solve a real problem. It is important that you tackle a big problem in a unique way. You must ensure that your company has a lot of growth potential. If you offer a solution for a marginal problem, the target organization will be able to develop the solution itself. Or, the competitors will quickly provide the same solution that you are offering. Choose a problem/market that offers a good growth potential for your startup. You must interview your clients, share your ideas and consult constantly. Get to know who your target audience is and make sure this audience has a real need for the product you are developing.

Q. What does the future hold for EqualWeb and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?

Many! We are launching our new monitor this month that can scan any website and provide a full report on accessibility issues along with an evaluation of how many issues EqualWeb can fix. We also added three more features to our accessibility widget. There are many more interesting things that we are working on. We are also preparing for round A this year.

Meet the Leader

Adam Ikar, CEO: Adam is a growth expert with a solid record in sales and business development. He has sold to more than 500 clients from Fortune 500 companies to Medium and Large enterprises. Adam is an expert at taking small marketing budgets and turning them into huge-impact projects.

“We believe in diversity, and we know that every new person brings a unique value to the company.”

“Doing something that has a real impact on our world in some way is my main source of satisfaction.”