Marketcircle BlogTop 20 Career Tips I've Learned From Female Leaders
Marketcircle Blog

Top 20 Career Tips I’ve Learned From Female Leaders

Small Business  March 8, 2018  Kristie Holden

Are you a business owner, manager, or aspiring leader? Want to be a better leader and get more out of your people, or want to lead more by moving up in your company? Read on, my friend.

A few weeks ago, I attended the SaaStr Annual conference in San Fransisco. On top of being a top-notch conference with speakers from leaders in the SaaS industry and a “Yappy Hour” for meeting adoptable dogs from a local rescue organization, they also made a deliberate effort to increase diversity in the conference this past year. Part of this effort included promoting more female speakers. One of my favourite sessions over the three-day conference was about career advice from female leaders in the SaaS industry.

As a woman in a predominantly male industry, I found this extremely empowering. Given that it’s International Women’s Day, I figured a great way to celebrate would be to share advice I’ve learned from female leaders and mentors.

Now guys, before you roll your eyes and jump to a new page, I want you to know that this advice is good for just about anyone, whether you’re CEO of a company, manager, or someone that aspired to lead or manage a team one day. The tips below are predominantly from speakers Megan Heuer, Heidi Bullock, Meagan Eisenberg, Tracy Eiler, during the session at SaaStr, as well as advice form other female mentors that I’ve learned so far in my career.

So without further a due, here is the Top 20 Career Advice From Female Leaders. 

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Don’t fear feedback

Feedback is essential to your personal growth and development. Don’t shy away from it. In fact, actively seek it out. Ask people for feedback whether it’s from people you lead, work alongside, or whomever you report to. This means you also need to be open to getting feedback you won’t like, and open to acting on it. Leverage negative feedback as an opportunity to improve.

Focus on performance measurements & results

Performance metrics and results aren’t disputable based on your age, sex, or skin colour. Hold yourself accountable for achieving measurable results, and do the same for those that you lead. Effort is great, but results are what drive a business forward– and your career.

Anticipate the needs of others

Next time you notice someone in your team or company is starting to get overwhelmed, ask how you can help them before they ask for it. If you’re trying to move up into a leadership role, doing this will show you’re able to be proactive and take on more responsibility, and it shows you’re a team player. People that are “too busy” to help are not promoted because it shows they’re not capable of taking on more responsibility. And as a leader or business owner, anticipating the needs of those you manage will help things run smoother than just waiting for problems to unfold.

Make people feel comfortable

People don’t work their best when they feel uncomfortable. Be the ice-breaker at a brainstorming meeting or before a discussion about a tough decision. As a business owner, making your people feel comfortable and being approachable are important for creating space for new suggestions and ideas.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone

You won’t grow by staying in the same place doing the same things. Push yourself beyond what you’re comfortable in, that’s when you’ll grow.

Push others beyond their comfort zone

As a leader, it’s also important to push those you lead out of their comfort zone to help stretch them so they can grow as well. For your company to grow, you need the people in it growing.

Be proactive

If you want to move up to a management position, demonstrate you have the skills to do the job instead of waiting for the title. Take the initiative to start before being asked. When you show you can handle more responsibility, you’ll often find how much faster you’re given it.

Schedule routine one-on-ones

Bake regular one-on-ones into your routine so you have frequent opportunities to grow yourself and your people. The more one-on-ones you have, the more opportunities you have to encourage development. As part of implementing the Rockefeller Habits, we have weekly one-on-ones with everyone in the company. If you’re a business owner or manager, it’s helpful to work with each employee to set one self-development or learning OKR (Objective and Key Results).

Have a mentor

I cannot emphasize how important this is and the difference this has made in my own personal development. Your mentor could be your manager, someone else in the company, or even someone outside the company. You could even seek a mentor for each specific skill you want to improve on. Have someone that is there to be your personal-development coach to help you leverage your strengths, navigate through difficult waters, and help you grow.

Let others shine

No one likes it when someone steals the limelight. If you’re the CEO, executive, or manager in a company, give others the opportunity to present and shine. Create a space for them to grow their skills so they can move into management.

Be cross-collaborative

Don’t be afraid to mix departments and teams together so people are better aligned. Make a deliberate effort to get involved in all the different areas of the business so you can be more strategic. This is especially relevant to people wanting to move up into management or upper management. Step in and take on hard problems. Spot the ball being dropped between teams and take the initiative to score a goal.

Give as often as you get

Don’t be a mooch. Share and give back where others give to you whether it’s tangible things or just knowledge. For example, if you have a network of people you leverage to help you solve problems, don’t just ask for help for your problem. Be there to help solve other people’s problems as well.

Do your homework

If you have ideas on how you can improve or change the direction at your work, take the initiative and spend the time to do your homework first. Get all the facts and data. If you want to influence decisions, built a compelling case that’s built on data.

Stay true to yourself

Be authentic. Growing is evolving, but it doesn’t mean you have to tone down your personality or your humour to fit into a box. Be yourself and learn how to leverage your strengths and those quirks that make you, you.

Build transparency

As a leader, make a conscious effort to building transparency. Form strong partnerships between your marketing and sales teams so they’re aligned. Share your vision and be deliberate about communicating. When everyone is aligned, it will drive your business forward and help you be more focused on what’s working.

Focus on the people

Make time to get to know the people you lead. Learn what motivates them, how they want to be rewarded, what makes them tick, and where the line for their comfort zone is so you can understand how and where to stretch them. When you focus on the people, you build a strong culture and get more out of them.

Practice self-awareness

Understand and be aware of yourself from the language you use to your body language and your tone. To inspire and lead people you need to also be able to influence them in a positive way. Positive language, remaining calm in stressful situations, and smiling can go a long way. Personally, I’ve found regular meditation, regular exercise, healthy eating, and active listening to be beneficial to becoming more self-aware. 

Make time for learning & coaching

Invest in yourself by deliberately setting aside time for learning and self-development. Set aside time for reading books, blogs, or listening to podcasts or audiobooks on how to be a better leader or manager. One of the things I look forward to the most in my inbox are blog posts from Steve Keating on how to be a better leader.

Start every meeting with something positive

Whether you’re leading a one-on-one, a routine meeting, or a difficult discussion, start with something positive. Starting with something positive will help prime people to be in a good mood, especially before tackling an important issue. Another part of the Rockefeller Habits is to start meetings by having each person share a victory. It can be something related to the company such as achieving a goal, or even a personal win.

Focus on your strengths

Find out what you do really well. Then push yourself to keep growing and developing that strength. That’s how experts become experts – by focusing on the thing they’re good at until they become great at it, and then exceptional.

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So there you have it, the best pieces of advice I’ve learned so far in my career. What’s the best advice you’ve learned and applied? Share it with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #bestadvice.

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