Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 | 5 min read
Last week I had an honor of hosting the Women in Enterprise Social event in Boston. Over thirty amazing women gathered to talk shop, as well as openly discuss the challenges and successes in their professional and personal lives and share their advice with each other, including official presentations from female leaders at Aetna, MIT, Deloitte, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Gazelle, Pearson, and Schneider Electric.
Yes, we talked a lot about what it means to build a successful digital business. However, the conversation that truly inspired me was focused on how female leaders can support each other and invest in each other’s success.
Here is the advice the speakers shared with the group:
1. Follow Your Gut
Sharifah Niles-Lane, Director of Social Media at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, talked about the importance of following your gut. When she said: “After a while, you learn that your gut is never wrong”, I saw almost every woman in the room nod their heads in agreement. Female intuition is something every professional woman relies very heavily on, so don’t ignore it.
2. Mentor Others
Stephanie H. Leishman, Social Media Strategist at MIT, talked about generosity, love, growth, and karma. One way to give back, she said, is to mentor other people. She talked about a principle called “cascading coaching,” which was taught to her by David Hosmer. The idea is that when someone mentors you, you enter into a pact of paying it forward by mentoring others. She suggested picking mentors who are different from us, those who can provide a different perspective and teach us something new. “The right mentor doesn’t have all the answers for you, but rather knows which questions to ask,” she says.
3. Know What Success Looks Like to You
Tanya Donnelly, Global Social Media Director at Schneider Electric, talked about the importance of knowing what success really means to you. It is different things to different people, she says. You need to be clear on what you want out of life and out of your career. “Life is about balance though,” she adds. “Too extreme of anything is not a good thing.”
4. Build Your Network Before You Need It
Hester Tinti-Kane, Head of Social Media in North America at Pearson, talked about how invaluable your network is in growing your career. I don’t think there was a woman in the room that didn’t passionately agree with this statement. Taking time out of your busy day to connect with others in your company or in your industry goes a long way.
5. Lead by Example
Ami Chitwood, Senior Manager of Brand and Eminence at Deloitte, talked about the importance of leading by example. If you want people to follow a specific set of behaviors, you have to exemplify those yourself. No double standard! You have to also set clear expectations with your team ahead of time if you want those behaviors followed. By becoming someone who leads by example, not only you will earn the respect others, you will earn a positive reputation that will help you propel your career.
6. Balance is Illusive, but Not Impossible
Michele Reynolds Perry, VP of Brand Communications at Gazelle, shared her perspective on balancing personal and professional life as a single mother. She talked about working hard and making lots of sacrifices, but still finding your own balance in life. She talked about working odd hours so that she could deliver on her projects but still have time during the day for her child. Finding a working environment (and a manager) that would be open to understanding employees’ unique needs and situations is key, but setting expectations up front (as well as boundaries later in your career) is an essential part of achieving the balance you need.
7. Be Authentic
Lauren Vargas, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at Aetna, talked about the importance of being authentic, no matter how far you climb up the corporate ladder. People who care about others, their communities, and doing what’s right have bigger influence than those who get blind-sided by egos or personal agendas. Know who you are, be confident, and do you… always. As Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
What’s your advice?
About the Author: Ekaterina Walter is the Global Evangelist at Sprinklr. She writes and speaks about leadership, business culture, and marketing innovation.
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