How to Succeed at Every Stage of Your Career, According to a Tech Exec

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via Business Insider: In order to excel professionally, at entry-level it is important to explore your passions and identify the area you want to work in.

  • At middle-management, foster a healthy sense of competition, embrace diversity and put your strengths to work.
  • Finally, at executive level you must continue to find ways to improve as a leader while also maintaining confidence.
  • March rings in National Women’s History Month: when we recognize pioneers of women’s rights for paving the way for our success.

Around this time last year, I called on business leaders to take ownership of their responsibility to promote gender parity within — and beyond — the workplace. Since then, we’ve seen the #MeToo movement take off, defined by bravery on the part of many women calling out acts of workplace harassment.

Concurrently, the aftermath of James Damore’s Google diversity memo and Emily Chang’s investigation into “Brotopia” exposes the prevalent sexist attitudes within the tech community. Sadly, when it comes to women in executive roles, the number of male-only executive boards increased in 2017.

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend 30 plus years in the tech industry — bearing witnessing its evolution and growth. Today, I’d like to share my approach to leadership and provide some helpful insight as to how women working in tech can achieve success as we call for a more inclusive tech community.

Entry-level: Examine your passions and determine the right fit

I found tech through my love of writing. I loved to write (and still do), but I was intrigued by technology. I had an opportunity early on in my career to become a technical writer, and I jumped at the chance to combine my skills and passions. I had the good fortune to work at a large firm that afforded me solid professional training, coupled with a varied career path that led me to a passion for marketing and ultimately inspired me to get a second degree.

I encourage you to find an environment where you can pursue your passion but also one that encourages professional development. Consider how fulfilled you are in your current position. Do you have room to explore your interests?

Trust your judgment when assessing your growth potential. It’s also never too early, nor too late, to try something new. Once you identify your passion, determine how it fits into your aspirations and future career trajectory.

Middle management: Be flexible and do not succumb to unhealthy competition

In tech, as with most industries, there can be a culture of competition in the workplace. Women ages 25 to 34 are leaving tech all together due to “unsupportive work environments,” with 56% of women leaving at the “mid-level” point.

While a certain degree of competition is healthy and productive, it must be fostered in the right manner — or it can become toxic. It is more effective to marshal resources and energy toward winning as a team, rather than turning one’s team against each other. One key tenet to which I subscribe is that “the enemy is always on the outside.”

Managers set the tone for their teams. Identify the strengths of your colleagues and allow your team members to play to those strengths. Foster healthy competition, but also focus on collaboration. Have your leadership team take a styles inventory test, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or 5 Dynamics Human Performance System , to identify how your team tends to meld (or not). Work with each team member to ensure you’re allowing them to play to their strengths and excel.

Just remember: You are in charge of cultivating the kind of work environment that is inclusive and conducive to their success.

Executive level: maintain confidence and humility as you evolve as a leader

One of the most impactful pieces of advice given to me over the years came from someone on my team. I was managing an enthusiastic group, full of fresh ideas, who resembled a band of renegades at times. It’s a great problem to have, but focusing the team was a challenge. I also wanted to overlay my ideas onto theirs — and in retrospect, this stifled the team’s creativity. In a heated discussion with a team member defending his position, he frankly stated, “You know, Nancy, not everything is black and white. You need to see more grey.” While it may sound fundamental, it was eye-opening. It reminds me of the saying, “Do you want to win or do you want to be right?” I was so set on being right that I wasn’t open to new ideas.

To best lead a team, you need to listen. That bold truth helped me to reflect on my leadership style and focus on what was most beneficial to the team. Part of creating inclusive environments is fostering a community where a team can be expressive and feel safe doing so. Figure out what kind of leadership style works for both you and your team, and what will be conducive to achieving overall company success. By creating a workplace where all employees can thrive, you can build a defense against the disorganized or competitive environments.

Regardless of where you are in your career, always examine how your presence and influence can cultivate a more inclusive workplace. The year 2017 exposed the fact that sexual harassment, gender bias, and unhealthy workplace environments surround us.

Undoubtedly, 2018 is the year to demand change. The technology industry praises itself for its innovation and problem-solving. Now is the time to tap into that creative energy at all career levels to build a stronger, more inclusive tech industry.

Nancy Harris is Executive Vice President and Managing Director, North America at Sage , a global market leader in business software that helps manage everything from money to people.

Source: Business Insider | How to Succeed at Every Stage of Your Career, According to a Tech Exec

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