Taking the Lead: Five Secrets to Success from Women Leaders

Source: Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons License

Women Leaders Series 4 of 4
The last of our 4-part series “Women Leaders,” unveils five secrets to success.

It’s easy to be inspired by women who have made it to the top of their profession. Many female professionals look upward and see a corporate mountain ahead of them instead of a ladder. Though at times it can feel like you’re climbing with no rope, you’re not alone. Fast Company shared a list of insights from 10 women in leadership roles and what they saw as their secrets to success.

We picked our five favorites and asked women who work at Jabil to lend their unique perspectives.

1. Be Your Authentic Self

Danae Ringelmann, co-founder and CEO of Indiegogo, says, “Don’t be afraid to be you and own it.” She elaborates that power is the ability to influence and impact people but to do that you have to first embrace yourself and the place where you come from.”

Gabriela Martinez,
Talent Acquisition Manager
Chihuahua, Mexico

Being true to your authentic self inspires loyalty within a team, says Martinez. “It also inspires faith in the leadership,” she continues. “The team can connect what [the leader] says to what they do. They’re consistent for those who look up to them.” Martinez thinks that this behavior guarantees learning and a more cohesive sense of unity among the team members. Authentic leaders, she says, generate trust in everything they do both inside and outside the company. They are the type of people that others want to do business with.

2. Ask Questions

Monif Clarke, founder and CEO of Monif C. Plus Sizes, says: “I’ve learned that between customers, employees and all our stakeholders, my number one job is asking [my team] a lot of questions so I can serve them.” She sees her company like a ship that she is steering and to be a good captain she has to ask questions to be responsive to people’s needs.”

Sonya Soparkar,
Senior Director, Global New Business Development
Livingston, Scotland

Asking questions is insight into a person being truly interested, Soparkar thinks. “It shows you’re engaged, that you’re genuine. This helps build trust in the relationships with colleagues and customers alike.” In her experience, asking questions is an important part of Jabil’s culture. “As a company, we are constantly striving to bring creative, transformational solutions to our customers. To do that, all of us, but especially business leaders, we need to get past the surface and dig down through the layers.” Asking intelligent questions does just that, it’s part of the process of understanding business and making sure that your customer’s needs are met.

3. In Good Times and Bad: Be Humble

Brooke Moreland, head of marketing at Gett and co-founder of Fashism, talks about the importance of humility while being an effective leader. “Give credit to your subordinates when things go well and shoulder the responsibility when things hit the fan. It’s hard, but I think the lack of ego is something that people respect and appreciate.” She says that no matter what happens, those at the top are responsible.

Rachel Chan,
HR Generalist
Huangpu, China

“Being humble is to accept the idea that you are not always perfect,” says Chan. “That you don’t always have to be right about everything.” She sees this as being an important opportunity for leaders to learn and grow by opening themselves to others and their mistakes. In doing so, it leads to respect. “One can see things from both sides, this enhances the chances of making the right decisions.”

4. Listening is the Biggest Part of Your Job

Jessanne Collins, editor-in-chief of mental_floss magazine, has learned that the best teams she’s been in are the ones with the strongest communicators who can articulate both a vision and concerns in effective ways. She says, “leadership is mostly about listening. You can’t create a team that thrives if you can’t respond to what each member needs.”

Susan Drane,
Sales Engineering Manager
St. Petersburg, U.S.A.

Drane recognizes the challenges of listening. “What’s really hard is trying to drown everything else out that’s going on in your head and focus on the person in front of you to really understand their pain points.” She sees women as having their own unique challenges in doing this by struggling to balance attention between personal matters, family and work. “Give the person you’re speaking with your undivided attention. Turn your phone over, step away from the computer to talk, go ahead and close the door. If someone truly needs your focus, give it to them; we all want to be heard.”

5. You Don’t Have to Have all the Answers

Kathryn Finney, founder and managing director of digialundivided (DID), busts the myth of leaders being omnipotent creatures. She talks about the process of bringing her company to market and how there was no clear path to success. She says, “the difference is that leaders trust their instincts to lead them to an answer.”

Meredith Kovarik,
Director, Supply Chain Management
St. Petersburg, U.S.A.

“In a company that sits centered in so many customers and capabilities it’s impossible to understand everything at all times,” reflects Kovarik. “It’s all about being surrounded by the right people.” When a leader is supported by an effective team they can make connections between knowledge and capabilities. These connections are the foundation for real knowledge, says Kovarik, and from them comes productivity and innovation.

Spend time with the five other valuable insights that Fast Company listed and see if any blend with your personal style of leadership. It has been shown that having a mentor can help you reach your career goals. So don’t be afraid to seek out leaders to draw inspiration from and get advice.

We want to know:
What is something that has helped you improve as a leader?

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