Most often, the best advice comes from hard-won experience. Recently Authority Magazine ran an interview series with successful women founders and leaders in Tech. Here are the highlights from our favorite leadership lessons shared by these incredible women. The purpose of the series is to share valuable advice with other women leaders or other women who aspire to leadership in the tech world.
Farrell Rodd of Mars Incorporated
Find your voice and enabling your team members to do the same . Mars describes this skill as the ability to “stand-alone,” which means having the strength to voice your opinion even if it’s not the prevailing one in the room. This can take some courage, but nothing will guarantee failure faster than an atmosphere where people don’t share their opinions. Some companies are less welcoming of this than others, but the kinds of teams and organizations that I prefer to work for will always value a good debate.
Claudia Wasko of Bosch eBike Systems
Think digital business. Create an IoT ecosystem! For example, at Bosch eBike Systems we have two missions (#1 is our core product business, #2 is providing digital services) and one overall vision: We are an IoT enabled Bike company.
We needed to onboard digital talent. We are constantly in the process of digitalizing existing ecosystems (e. g. lifetime digital bike experience, B2C user subscriptions, B2B2C offers) and building cross-divisional innovation platforms
Also consider the benefits of third-party co-operations and partnerships. Focus on your core competencies, keep focus and establish co-operations in areas outside your expertise. For example, Bosch did not have any access to bike dealers, our logistic infrastructure has been developed to ship high delivery volumes to a limited quantity of customers, but not to provide single spare parts to thousands of bike dealers. Our market entry strategy includes cooperation with a service partner, a company that is very well connected within the bike industry and is experienced to serve the needs of the bike retailer network.
Dr. Lucienne Marie Ide of Rimidi
Know what problem you are solving. For industries like healthcare, there’s plenty of opportunity for improvement. Understand where you are uniquely adding value to the ecosystem and focus on doing that really really well.
Listen to your end-users. It’s easy to do all the talking when you are in sales mode, but you will get a lot more out of listening — even with prospects who don’t buy your product. Always ask the ‘why’ and really listen to the answer.
Anita Darden Gardyne of Onēva
You won’t have all the answers. You aren’t in school anymore. As things go better you make faster decisions with less information. You never have all the answers. For me, it is about connecting my heart with my stomach with my brain. And having trusted advisors on the team that can have answers and experience when I don’t. For example, recently my existing investors, led by Chris Yeh, just renegotiated their contract terms with me. I didn’t have the answers to that and had to depend on the village. I was lucky to have Chris available to do that.
Maria Zannes of bioAffinity Technologies
Follow the science. Businesspeople rightfully seek to control a situation, but that does not bode well in the science field. Mother nature has a way of surprising you. Innovation is essential to a biotech company, but it does not reveal itself if you have a limited view of a successful result. Instead, develop a hypothesis and understand it is just that, an educated guess. Test that hypothesis by every conceivable method until you are sure of the result. I mentioned that our science team was researching the mechanism of action by which porphyrins preferentially label cancer cells. We had a hypothesis, based on the literature, and we tested it to find we were wrong. But as we followed the science, we made a remarkable discovery that has led to novel approaches to kill cancer without harm to healthy tissue.
Work with integrity. Everyone in business at one time or another faces a decision to take the longer and more challenging road or cut corners to get a quicker and initially favorable result. There is an even greater risk in groups that are similar or in organizations where one person holds most of the power. It is not just the person, but the organization in which that person works that can drive integrity. I remember early in my career I was asked to withhold information from a client. I was very young, but I knew it was wrong. I refused. It was empowering to stand up, even if I risked my job.
Debbie Reynolds of Debbie Reynolds Consulting
Establish your credibility early. To be taken seriously in any business endeavor, you must first establish your credibility to get future clients’ attention. There are many ways to develop your credibility, like using customer testimonials, highlighting sales, showing years of experience, demonstrating expertise, show scholarship through teaching, using peer recommendations, etc. For example, start-ups and well-established companies should always have statistics and accomplishments to share with potential customers to show they can handle their needs.
Learn how to accept NO gracefully. Not every business or sales contact will say YES to doing business with you. In fact, most will say NO. Be prepared to handle a NO gracefully and move to the next potential, YES. Although rejection is painful, the ability to move forward makes all the difference if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.
Susan Cook of Zaloni
Hold yourself to the values and standards you’d like to see in your teams. I don’t know a CEO that isn’t stretched for time, and, in the race to meet deadlines, it can be tempting to abandon little details that matter — character-reflecting details in the way you follow-up on requests, show up on time, prepare for a meeting, or communicate by email, to name a few. Approach each interaction with the integrity you expect from others, and, when you make mistakes, own them. While most days seem like a constant stream of demands for your direction, thoughts, or decisions, each individual employee may see only that one single interaction with you, and it matters. Honesty and character are not on a sliding scale, once tarnished, they are unlikely to be fully recovered.
Kate Cassino of Hobsons
Build a winning leadership team . You need a mix of industry experts and functional leaders that also reflect the diversity of your field, including gender, ethnicity, and across the age spectrum to ensure you are looking at issues from multiple perspectives.
Foster a culture of innovation . Make sure to encourage employees to “think outside the box” and solve problems in different ways. You always need to be disrupting yourselves or you will be disrupted otherwise.
Drive constructive accountability . Everyone needs to do their part if you want to win, so you need to set an expectation that everyone is accountable. But be clear about your accountability measures and incentivize employees in the right ways.
Marina Aslanyan of SmartLinx
Don’t underestimate the value of a go-to-market strategy . Many times it’s worth much more than the product itself. It’s most important to understand how you’re going to provide a valuable service to the customer that will make them want to stay with you.
Keep your financial model top of mind . How you want to run the company and what you want to be when you grow one. Make sure that the metrics that are critical to the success of the company are established and tracked early. Otherwise, it’s very hard to go back later to reestablish them and figure out where you fit.
Laura Ipsen of Ellucian
Customer Retention. Rather than approaching this from a tactical standpoint or looking at specific initiatives, I really prefer to look at the customer strategy from the perspective of the entire customer journey — that is, how we engage customers from the cradle to the grave (and yes, sometimes there is a grave, but if you manage well through the grave, you’ll find that these customers often come back). When a company has made the decision to invest in customer success, there are three levels of maturity to consider as you work to drive value and create ‘stickiness’: Retention, Use and Adoption, and Advocacy.