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Women Of The Channel Power Panel: Empowerment With A Side Of Inspiration

A panel of leaders from Cambium Networks, MarketStar and Splunk shared how they are fostering a culture of innovation and inspiration within their teams at the Women Of The Channel Leadership Summit West event.

Building Inspired Teams

Innovation is critical, and not just from a new product perspective. Companies need inspired teams to stay competitive, and it's their manager's job to provide the empowerment.

At The Channel Company's Women Of The Channel Leadership Summit West 2019 event, a panel of three executives from Wi-Fi and fixed wireless provider Cambium Networks, outsourced sales and marketing firm MarketStar, and software company Splunk shared how they are driving a culture of innovation and inspiration within their teams and what other leaders and soon-to-be-leaders should know.

What follows are excerpts from the conversation during the Women Of The Channel Power Panel.

Building An Innovation-Minded Culture

Heather Barnes, vice president of client services and partner channel for MarketStar, said the teams within her company that are the most innovative are those that have, first and foremost, a culture of trust. These are teams that are used to working together in collaborative environments and can celebrate wins and review and learn from failures together.

"If you are trying to innovate by yourself, you only have one perspective. Groups, from an innovation standpoint, work really well because you get the best ideas. Bring in people that you haven't worked with before or that you normally don't work with. They have ideas for you that maybe your group hasn't thought about because groups do start to think the same when working together day in and day out."

Environment Of Innovation

Those in the tech sector often think about innovation as it relates to product development and bringing new features and functions to an existing technology, but that shouldn't always be the case, said Brooke Cunningham, area vice president of global partner programs, marketing and operations for Splunk. Innovation is about learning constantly and not being committed to just the old ways of doing things, she said.

"Innovation comes from any way we are driving our business. We are all going through loads of transformation all the time, so I think innovation is so critical to everything we do. At Splunk, we have a strong culture of innovation. We talk a lot about having a growth mindset and really using that as our foundation and language to talk to one another,” Cunningham said.

The Importance Of Empowering Others

Painting a clear picture from the beginning of the end goal, while also letting people figure out how to get there, helps to foster empowerment, Barnes said.

"What people bring back to you, I think, is often a far better result, she said. "And they don't have to take the idea all the way to fruition. It creates an opportunity for you to interject but not micromanage."

Looking For Inspiration

If you're looking for inspiration, look no further than into a mirror, said Christy Meaney, manager of channel development and field marketing for Cambium Networks. Research proves that once women are added to a company or meeting, productivity increases. Women don't need to go into a meeting and act like men; in fact, it's more inspiring to others if you don't, she added.

"To inspire means to breathe into and lot of times powerful women walk into a room and bring breath and life. If you ever find yourself saying, 'I don’t know my purpose or place,' know that just your existence in a room increases productivity and sales," Meaney said.

Fostering ‘Softer’ Skills

The so-called soft skills are very necessary within a good team. The No. 1 "soft" skill is communication, according to Cunningham. That's because every opportunity to communicate is an opportunity to influence, whether it's executives higher up the ladder or to talk about a difficult business change, she said.

"The skill of being able to present yourself appropriately, whether it's on a Zoom or a WebEx, on stage at your partner summit, or going to the boardroom to talk about what your team is pitching, those are all opportunities," she said. "Using all of your communication … things like your body language and all the things you can use to your advantage and use it to drive your goals. Every single person on my team in their development plan has a focus on building their presentation and communication skills."

Helping The Workforce Of The Future

It's natural to look out for yourself and your career, but sticking your neck out for others is equally as important, Meaney said.

“There are a lot of young women coming into the workforce. When you see that 19-year-old like I was, reach out and be their champion," she said.

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