Leadership is a skill that does not come to all; taking responsibility for a team and shaping them into an effective unit can be challenging and rewarding at the same time.
There was a time when management seemed almost exclusively a male role, with few women managing to break through the ceiling and into key roles. The ILO reports that is changing rapidly, with gender diversification, especially at a senior level, leading to more rounded and effective businesses.
A study by Rutgers University showed that women CEOs accounted for 6.4% of the Fortune 500 companies in 2017, falling to 4.8% the year after. Despite that drop, the advance from 1995, when no female’s held CEO positions amongst the Fortune 500, shows that giants leaps are being made in gender diversification and to good effect. Within the tech sector, increasing numbers of women are in positions of power, delivering important messages and advice to those seeking to follow in their footsteps.
So without further ado, let’s look at five leadership lessons from key women in the tech sector.
Jenifer Robertson is President at AT&T, an American multinational conglomerate headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas. She believes that understanding her own values and skills enables her to create a vision for her team.
“Regardless of gender, I believe humble confidence is the most critical leadership attribute to build thriving teams,” she told Medium in a recent interview. “A leader must have the confidence to know what values and skills she brings to the table so she can set a vision and establish a platform for team success.”
Working together is a message that comes from the top down and holds as much relevance at the bottom of a company structure as it does the top. In fact, an overview of organizational leadership by Maryville University emphasizes how collaboration can be the key to success, no matter the organization, or the size.
It is a point emphasized by Christene Barberich, co-founder of Refinery29, who said: “Leadership is learning how to balance guidance, discipline, and drive with compassion and collaboration.”
Yvette Hunsicker is Vice President at Honda and her biggest piece of advice is to trust the people who are working for you. She joined Honda in 1989 as a production assistant as has risen through the company, setting a clear example for others to follow.
“A leader does not need to perform all the tasks or know every task in detail,” she says. “They should trust the group and function in a manner that directs employees and peers based on a strategy to meet the business needs.
Communication is king in any industry, whether it is manufacturing, tech or retail. Being able to relate to and interact with staff, customers and other companies is a vital component of all business, according to Amy Gowder, Vice President of Lockheed Martin.
“One major element I focus on is interpersonal communication. Leaders need to personally and frequently communicate with employees in new and meaningful ways,” she states.
Delegation is one of the toughest challenges for any leader, especially one who has emerged through the company structure and performed the tasks they must delegate out. Mehryn Corrigan, who is Associate Director of Strategic Alliances Sharp Imaging, believes having good people behind you to spread the workload is a vital part of effective leadership.
“In a large team, it is helpful to always have a delegate or two to back you up and is able to begin taking on leadership responsibilities,” said Corrigan, who also believes it is important to take the time to get to know your team and build your network, something Abby Drexler, Senior Digital PR Specialist at Higher Visibility explored in a recent article titled How To Build Your Network, here on our site.