Navigating the technology channel is challenging for any professional and in the past it seemed like "Mission Impossible" for women. Thankfully, that is changing. While women are finding their way to top spots in technology, there is room for many more. Determining your management style is part of the process.
[Related: Women Executives I Admire ]I don’t claim to have all the answers, but if I had to sum up my success thus far, I would say in my early days and even now, I’ve always seen myself as a sponge. Yes, you read that right, a sponge!
More than 20 years ago, I graduated college and started my career with lofty goals of being a high ranking advertising executive; that was the family business. My mom and dad held posts at creative agencies, so it seemed like a good fit. Right out of college, I took on several internships, one of which eventually led to a full time role at a successful technology company. That role exposed me to the world of corporate marketing, the channel, partner programs and more. Because it was in high tech during the dot-com boom, there were several opportunities for me to learn from creative thinkers, innovators and seasoned professionals. Basically, I learned from the best of the best.
Like a sponge, I soaked up everything I could, especially from the team members working on partner programs. In those days and even now, I took something away from every experience. I soaked in the good, the bad and the ugly. One of my supervisors at the time led a global team. Her management style was that of a strong taskmaster, and everyone knew exactly what was expected.
Once, she went so far as to put up yellow caution tape around her office, so her colleagues and direct reports knew not to bother her. She wasn’t big on compromise, idle conversation, or collaboration if it wasn’t productive. Though she consistently delivered results, I soaked it all in, and determined I didn't want to lead using such a rigid management style.
On the other hand, I had the pleasure of working with a fellow “Woman in the Channel” a few years ago. She has since accelerated through the ranks as well, and she is still on top of her game today. Her management style is best described as (seemingly) effortless. I observed her during difficult sessions with partners, during big presentations with industry insiders and less formal employee events. For her, being a driven leader, mother and wife required the same skills: respect, diplomacy and collaboration. She’s never tried to have it all. Instead, she has surrounded herself with driven people who like her, only focused on what is important.
Through the years, I’ve found my way by trying new things and leveraging professional hits and misses. As a result, I’ve been exposed to alternative leadership styles. Such exposure has put me in close reach with decision makers who have influenced my career path. They have positioned me to move from soaking up information to transitioning to leadership roles. Today, I am acutely aware of my impact and approach in the workplace. As leaders, we must commit to continually learning and sharing insight.
We can all do our part to support the next crop of women leaders in technology. They can use our antidotal experiences to fast track their professional pursuits, but only if we share. In the end, a skilled leader knows how to soak up the good and squeeze out the excess. That certainly sounds like a sponge to me!
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