Key Imperatives for the Next Generation of Women Business Leaders
Canadian organizations of all sizes, in the public and private sectors alike, need successful women to serve as role models that inspire others. Conferences like The Art Of, digital and social media platforms, and initiatives like the Dell Women Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) play an important role in enabling women to build critical personal and business networks. These face-to-face and social opportunities allow people to actively share stories across technology, business, government and philanthropy, which may help inspire the next generation of women to become entrepreneurs, inventors, CEOs and leaders.
At Dell we know that awareness needs to translate into action. It’s not enough to just talk about encouraging women in the workplace – it’s vital that leaders are the drivers of this change. The leadership team at Dell understands that the inclusion of female talent at every level is not just a ‘nice thing to do’ but that diverse teams drive tangible business benefits. This helps the rest of the organization feel a stronger sense of purpose and activates opportunities to encourage and promote the inclusion of female talent.
As a woman leader for one of the fastest-moving vendors, I often get asked my advice on how others can grow and expand their sphere of influence when moving into a leadership position. I know how important it is to keep up with the constant changes and stay on your feet to be aware of everything around you. This can be challenging at times when you are moving in a hundred different directions. When you get a chance to slow down, it’s always a good idea to re-evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and where you are headed in your career path. My top five tips for women moving into leadership positions are explained below.
Build Relationships Beyond Your Sphere of Influence
Relationship building is very important in any industry in the business world. Take that next step and build strong relationships with leaders in other areas of the business, such as the CIO and CMO. For example, I’ve always worked closely with Dell’s CIO, and what Dell IT has learned from running Dell’s business on Dell solutions we pass onto our partners and customers through trainings, new solutions, and more. You never know what you may learn from your peers in other lines of business. Don’t forget networking within your line of business and nurturing those relationships is very important, as you may do business with those people down the road.
Institute a Scorecard
Be transparent and routinely self-assess your team. Every quarter, we analyze how we’re doing on a detailed scorecard and then share those results and review what we’re doing well and what we need to do better. Since I took on the role of Dell Channel Chief, I have shared the topline takeaways of these self-assessments with colleagues, customers, partners, and the public via my blog. This ensures that we are always striving to be the best we can be and deliver the best solutions to our customers.
Deepen Your Knowledge of What Lies Ahead
Invest in training and certifications so that you can be a trained expert and trusted advisor across a full breadth of products and solutions. This involves gaining a deeper insight into how industry "mega-trends” are changing both technology decisions and business decisions. Once you have this information under your belt you can become a trusted advisor to your colleagues and customers on these hot issues in the industry.
Cultivate the Next Generation
Mentorship programs are a new trend we are seeing within corporate environments. Whether they are formal or informal, both parties can grow from the experience. I am a big advocate of sharing my past experiences, whether they were successes or failures. Discussing how I came to those results, whether it’s the right decisions I made or how I learned and grew from failures. We are also seeing women resource groups within large organizations (such as Dell) that provide opportunities for networking with similar career-minded women in organizations and at industry events.
Put Yourself Out There
Most importantly, take risks. Staying in your comfort zone will not allow you to experience new things or grow in your career. Do something once a day that scares you and don’t be afraid to fail. Making mistakes in your career is one of the biggest learning opportunities. If you make a mistake, accept it and grow from it.
Overall, I suggest learning from everyone and everything around you. Be a sponge and soak up knowledge everywhere you can --you can learn something new every day. These are just a handful of tips and tricks I recommend to get ahead in your business, but I’m sure there are many, many more.