“Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life, that the more I exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me and I achieve my wildest goals.” – Arianna Huffington, Editor-In-Chief, Huffington Post
Leadership Topics: Leader & L-ship, Vision, Team, Communication, Relationships, Focus on Customer, Support, Delegating, Listening, Why, Be Yourself, Backup.
How does a leader manage to harness the talents of a group without letting things get our of hand? How does a leader give inspiring direction without stifling creativity and individuality?
In a series of profiles on “Women of The C-Suite”, we spoke with hundreds of female leaders about the most important ideas to keep in mind in order to lead a Team. Here are 10 great Advice tips from 10 powerful Women in Tech.
#1. What is a Leader? It’s one who influences a group toward achieving a common goal. A leader does not need to perform all the tasks or know every task in detail. They should trust the group and function in a manner that directs employees and peers based on a strategy to meet the business needs. A leader provides the motivation and serves as the director. Zaida Nuñez (Director of Operations, Sprint)
#2. Leadership is about showing up, being present & accountable for you & your team’s role in driving growth & success. It’s learning how to balance guidance, discipline & drive with compassion & collaboration. At the end of the day, real leadership is trust — trust between you & your team, as well as trusting the connection your team has to your company & its mission. Cara Brennan Allamano (SVP, Udemy)
#3. Set a Vision. Serve your team by setting a clear vision, and removing as many road blocks as you can – that are in your Team’s path of achieving their goals. Publically recognize the outstanding contributions of team members to show your appreciation. Meet regularly with the managers & key members of your team, and listen to their feedback. Make sure you include those who serve customers. Implement what you think is best for your company. Keep your Team informed of progress – resolve problems quickly & share victories. Jenifer Robertson (President, AT&T)
#4. TEAM — Together Everyone Achieves More — is really about focusing on the Goals that the team is working toward, then focusing the collective team to deliver against that target. Have Key Performance Indicators [KPI] that align the team toward the common Goals and frequent Milestones that show how we are progressing. Give the team the open communication channels to voice any concerns and/or support they might need in achieving the KPIs. Focus on “adding Value” to everything you do. By focusing on how what we do adds Value, we have been able to excel in delivering our results. Amy Gowder (VP, Lockheed Martin)
#5. Communication is of utmost importance. As you take on a larger scope of responsibility & team size, you’re less exposed to the day-to-day operations of each area, so you need to ensure that everyone is aligned & working towards the same goal. Besides monthly Staff Meetings, I host annual Off-site meetings – where we talk about our Vision & Goals + our Core Values. People need to know that their work is impacting us and understand the role they play within our team’s and where the company is headed. This validates the importance of their work and keeps us all moving in the same direction, galvanized towards a common purpose. Diana Schildhouse (SVP, Mattel)
#6. Latest Communication Techniques. Recently, I’ve embraced advanced technology to communicate better with our millennial population. I’ve made myself much more accessible to the larger workforce than previously in my career. This is hard with a busy schedule, but essential to good leadership. Our team adapted the executive communications methods preferred by these employees and our data shows positive effects. We’re now using video messages versus long “manifesto documents” to drive more memorable, sociable conversations around subjects like our strategy. A critical element is being approachable and adding humor – where appropriate. A leader who can occasionally poke fun at themselves in a professional way comes across as open & honest + a leader you want to follow. Ruth Porat, SVP CFO, Google
#7. Build strong Relationships. Spend as much time as you need – in building one-on-one relationships with your team. Early in my career I set up one-on-one Coffee Chats to make sure I was in touch with how each member of the team was feeling while answering questions & discussing concerns. Women can be great at fostering relationships and excel at these one-on-ones. In my experience, women have a great strength in Emotional Intelligence (EQ), as well as Functional expertise. As my team has grown and calendar has become challenging, it’s taken on different forms — from scheduling Fun team events on Friday – like cooking classes or impromptu lunches – where I get to speak casually with them. These activities are valuable for leaders to keep their finger on the pulse of how their team is feeling — to keep them feeling motivated, recognized and part of something bigg & great. Barbara Humpton (CEO, Siemens)
#8. Make your Customer your Partner by focusing on their needs. In my business, the end Customer is the Patient. When bureaucracy gets to be too much in our business, I often ask, “Would a Patient with heart disease care?” I found that asking this one simple question got me and my team back on track. Mehryn Corrigan (Associate Director, Sharp Imaging & Information Company of America)
#9. The importance of Support. It’s clear that every business requires a variety of functions & disciplines. You need experts in many different areas. So I’m surprised when I hear someone talk about an organization and describe “the Core business” & “Support functions.” Too often when they talk about the support functions, they use the word “just.” I’ll hear people say, “Well, I’m just a support person.” (ie, HR, Accounting, Admin, etc) But I think you can draw employees in and get better results when they understand that their expertise is essential for optimal performance of the organization. My advice is: Make it a central part of your communications to your team that every person, and every part of the business, is integral to the company’s overall success. Yvette Hunsicker (VP, Honda)
#10 Delegating. The rubber meets the road with your first line leaders, and they are the biggest levers you can pull in a large organization. Mindfully delegating & connecting to them, is key to continuing the culture of your core values, identifying underlying issues and developing the next generation of leaders. One major element I focus on is, inter-personal communication. Leaders need to personally & frequently communicate with employees in new & meaningful ways. Marilyn Hewson, CEO, Lockheed
#11. Drawing out others. I concentrate on doing this in my meetings. Recently, I led a discussion where I had to ease my way into raising a difficult topic. I purposely engaged others in the room. In doing so, I made a direct connection to those who raised previous points on the issue connecting to their thoughts & emotions. In this way, I drew others in – who were not actively contributing, showing I valued their beliefs & experiences. Having more of the team engaged, made a difficult topic more productive to discuss. Women who use these skills very purposefully can stand out among their peers. Christene Barberich (Co-Founder, Refinery29)
#12. Listening. It’s critical for all leaders to develop active listening skills. For women, there’s a balancing act between just listening and still having a voice in discussions among men. I think society gives men more latitude in that regard. As women practice active listening, the opportunities to interject and drive the conversation in a meaningful way becomes clearer. When you accomplish this, you set yourself apart as a valuable, insightful leader. This is key in building relationships with male colleagues, building your personal brand and driving success in business. Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo
#13. Your Why, not Y. It’s easy to check out when you don’t find meaning in your work, but you don’t have to be saving the world in order to stay engaged either. It’s about having the right attitude and being able to find purpose in what you do. When you lose touch with your “why,” your work loses meaning and can drag you down. If you’re low on motivation, get back to basics and remind yourself why you do what you do & who benefits from it. Reflect on what motivates & drives you. Connecting back to your “why” will help you get through those days when you find yourself daydreaming about a permanent vacation. Michelle Carnahan (Head of the Primary Care Business Unit, Sanofi)
#14. First & Foremost, Be Yourself and allow the team to bring their full selves to work. The one time I really failed big time in leading a team was when I tried to emulate my boss. We were entirely different people. His style was one that was very different than mine. I felt that to be successful, I had to be like him. I ended up losing confidence in myself and did not follow my gut or my head. The team sensed it and did not feel inclined to follow an in-authentic leader. The world needs more than one type of leader. The biggest takeaway for me was that being someone else took away from what mattered to me: my team and my customers. It takes way too much energy to be someone who you are not, and you are probably not very good at it. Meg Whitman, CEO, Hewlett Packard
#15. Have a Backup to you. In a large team, it is helpful to always have a delegate or two to back you up and be able to take on leadership responsibilities. In my experience, having two is helpful because each may have different strengths to bring to the table. I started my career on the other side of this equation, and it gave me motivation to grow. In a way, it set up a competitive environment, which is where I perform best. As a manager and even as a soccer coach, I’ve seen the other side, where some people enjoy and thrive in that competitive growth environment and some don’t. Either way, it’s important to understand where people are coming from and keep communication open and consistent. Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors
Comments: Do you know any other Advice that you have heard from Women leaders that impressed you?
from Biz World 9/19 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4.biz