Real leaders take an active role in developing their team, helping them move towards their goals because that is what will foster true engagement. Your team is a reflection of you and when you are ready to accept that accountability, that’s when you truly start to lead.
Virginia Barnett, CEO, Entrepreneur and Operations Management Leader
Surveys of women working in technology made by the NCWIT (National Center for Women in Technology) show that one of the biggest problems we have in attracting and retaining women in the technology field is a lack of training in both technical and leadership skills.
Virginia Barnette, the author of the quote above, added that she was lucky to have had a mentor early on in her career. What might happen to the technology field if all women currently working in the technology field passed on our knowledge and experience to just one other woman coming up the ranks in the technology field? I believe that In a very short time we could potentially double the number of women working in technology.
So what does it take to be a good mentor? Below are five of my thoughts on this subject. I hope you will add your thoughts on the leadership skills that you find are most important in developing other women leaders in technology.
• Listen: Last week we talked about listening and noted that it is stronger than words. Sometimes all another woman needs is someone to listen to her fully. When we are fully heard we feel more connected, we feel more a part of the team, we feel more valued. And everyone wants to know that they are valued.
• Share Your Knowledge: Sometimes women hang on to their knowledge as though having that knowledge was going to protect us from losing our jobs. One of the best things that happened in my career was when a woman in leadership helped me to understand how to create a strategy for my career. All of a sudden I went from being a woman who was simply doing a good job to someone who had a vision, a mission and goals. It not only changed my approach to my work, it changed how other people perceived me. And my company and the leader who shared her experience benefited from that shift in my perspective.
• Empower: Encourage women to take risks, to share their ideas and to speak up for themselves even when it is uncomfortable to do so. In the book, ‘The Male Factor’ by Shaunti Feldhahn, she writes about a female manager who was making a decision whether to promote a man or a woman. They were equally qualified. The woman did a great job on her follow through with her work. So did the man. However the man did one thing differently that made him stand out. Several times a week he would stop in to say hello to the manager and would share an idea he had come up that day. Most of the time his ideas didn’t go anywhere. But occasionally he would hit on something valuable. What he demonstrated in taking that risk was that he was always thinking about how to improve what they were doing and that he was more concerned about the success of the company and his manager than he was about putting himself at risk.
• Set a vision: It’s an old adage but one that I think is well worth repeating and that is, if we don’t know where we are going we’ll never get there. As leaders most of us know that we need to have a crystal clear vision and we need to consistently share that vision. But are the women on our team bought into that vision or know how their work fits into that vision? Studies show that women tend to enjoy their work more when they know that what they are doing serves a greater purpose than just making a living. Figuring out what is that bigger picture, sharing that with the women who work with you and making sure that they understand how they fit into that picture could be a big key to retaining women working in technology.
• Walk Your Talk: It’s not enough to have a title. We have to walk the talk of the leader. Not only do we want to be leading and encouraging other women to grow in their careers, we need to take time to continue to grow ourselves. Check in with your mentors, review your strategy, take risks…be your best you.
And if you have concerns about your leadership style, need an understanding ear or someone to brainstorm with than contact me and let’s have a virtual cup of coffee so I can support you to
connect to your power,
Last modified: September 20, 2018