Channel Leadership 101: Being Human in a Silicon Industry
Honesty, openness and authenticity were common sentiments shared by the female delegates attending the Women’s Channel Leadership Council. This event kicked off Channel Focus 2019 North America in Carlsbad California. I had the amazing opportunity to part-take in this special occasion on behalf of 360insights. I was extremely inspired by the exceptional line-up of speakers and panelists representing the next generation of women channel leaders. Hearing their stories throughout the session was very moving. As a working mother and marketing professional for a global tech company, my view was completely transformed on what it takes to be a female channel sales and marketing leader working in the technology industry.
Women in Technology: Focus on What Matters Most
I sat down with my colleague, Director of Customer Success at 360insights, Cassie Fuhr, to hear her take on the event. Cassie not only participated in one of the panel discussions, but she also moderated a roundtable discussion. It was clearly evident that remaining true to oneself and admitting your failures as well as allowing your team to fail, were some of the best things a woman could do as a leader. Cassie is a working mother herself with young children at home. She gained leadership responsibilities earlier on in her career and goes on to say that, “With so much else going on in our personal lives, trying to hide or neglect that doesn’t help. Focusing on what matters most and being honest amongst your team and peers is critical to ensure success.”
Leverage Mentors and Elevate Young Talent
The opening keynote was delivered by Theresa Caragol, Founder & CEO AchieveUnite. One of her primary messages focused on inclusive channel leadership and supporting the development of young talent. The key is to “bring people up in the elevator and send the elevator back down to bring others up as well.” The book, How to Be A Woman in Technology, written by Cheryl O’Donoghue, was provided to the delegates at Theresa’s opening session. In it, she is quoted as saying, “You don’t have to wait for a formal or informal mentoring program. Where you see talent, as either a mentor’s or mentee’s, cultivate spontaneous connections. Start small. Ask a question. Ask for an opinion. Ask for help.”
Make No Apologizes for Your Own Success
When I asked Cassie who her mentors are as she continues her journey down the leadership path, she mentioned that she has leaned on several different people to trust and to provide open and honest feedback. However, early on in her career, struggled with managing people who were much older than her. Cassie’s main recommendation to younger girls coming up in their careers is to, “Not apologize for your own success or for what you have to contribute.”
For additional words of advice from two trailblazing women of the channel, check out our special live webinar replay celebrating International Women’s Day, Shaking The Tree: Celebrating Women of the Channel.
Women of the Channel: Gain a Seat at the Table
So, what’s the key to gaining a seat at the table? How can women, especially younger women just starting their careers in the channel gain recognition or be heard at executive led meetings? This issue was addressed in one of the panel discussions as well. One of the biggest challenges for women in channel leadership positions is to have to defend their role/position in the channel. Cassie says, “Having confidence and knowing and believing in what you say and showing the initiative to speak your mind is important.” People are not going to ask you for your opinion, so make sure you speak up and articulate your ideas intelligently. Cassie also recommends staying relevant and to never stop learning or improving yourself personally or professionally. She goes on to say, “Everyone has three blind spots so asking for help to identify those blind spots and accepting honest feedback is another step in the right direction.”
Women in Technology: Create a Personal Brand
Creating awareness and building strong brand identities is not a marketing tactic that only large vendors and retailers undertake. Have you ever thought about creating your own personal brand? The final topic discussed at the event involved managing your communication style and knowing how to effectively present and speak to a wider audience. When I asked Cassie for some tips and tricks, she advised, “Know when you are able to show value and keep your emotions in-tact in email and face-to-face conversations. Be cognizant of how you are perceived by others and be more fact based, friendly, professional, and honest.” Cassie always wants to provide positive feedback and ensure that what she says is reinforcing even while offering negative feedback at the same time.
Negotiating a Raise Means Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
According to Theresa Caragol in the book, How to Be a Woman in Technology, an essential leadership practice is to create opportunities for yourself. If you think negotiation is not important, think again. Theresa says in the book, “You’ve got to be able to negotiate the financial aspects related to your career, from your salary to your exit package.” This can be challenging for many women, but Theresa urges, “Get out of your comfort zone and take care of yourself.” Cassie shares a similar belief in that before you present or have difficult discussions with your managers, ensure that what you are asking for is reasonable and realistic. Do your research first and if asking for a raise, make sure you have some sort of frame of reference.
Women’s Channel Leadership Council Round-up
Cassie and I both found the Women’s Leadership Council to be a solid platform for women seeking authentic leadership roles within their organization. It was refreshing to have so much honesty and transparency present. It was also nice to see that many female channel leaders sharing their personal stories, knowledge and expertise in one place. What resonated most for me as a working mother, was the issue of not having to apologize for my responsibilities at home. It was reassuring to know that women leaders in tech can find balance between home-life and work-life. Everything is achievable in the end, it just takes hard work, dedication and not being afraid to fail.