Women have different challenges in the workplace than their male colleagues, so when females recognize one another and gather for an educational experience, it makes a personal and organizational impact.
Recently I was honored again as one of CRN’s 2018 Women of the Channel, which validates the work Episerver is doing for the channel community in the digital marketing space. While it is personally satisfying to win an award for myself and my team for three straight years – a trifecta if you will – the gathering of my peers was as equally empowering.
To coincide with the CRN Women of the Channel list, I attended the Women of the Channel Leadership Summit in Rancho Mirage, CA. The leadership summit booked inspiring and motivational speakers who have had an impact in IT – or have overcome challenges as women in their own careers (some of which on a very public stage). The conference provided interactive workshops, panels, networking and engaging sessions as well.
What the conference gave attendees more than anything else was the time to focus solely on their own advancement, how they can improve their leadership skills, and how to manage work and home life together. This trifecta – achievement, leadership and balance – is something too few of us seize the time to reflect on in our busy lives. Through this summit though, I can bring you some powerful advice for each:
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in your dream role, with your dream company. What are you doing? Where are you? How do you feel? What do the media headlines read? In this vision, you should feel a sense of power and positivity. Now, put yourself in the shoes of Meg Gilbert Crofton, the former president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts who in 2006 earned this role as only the fourth president of the organization in 35 years. Did you picture this headline about your achievement, “Woman to run Disney World”?
Did you picture this comic strip, “Minnie will be taking over from now on”?
Deflating, right? It could be, of course. What Gilbert Crofton has done is taken her experience – we can imagine rife with other times her gender was targeted – to empower other women. At the leadership summit, she presented, “Strategies to Keep Women Moving Forward—Personally and Professionally.”
During her presentation, she encouraged attendees to be more intentional around the priorities they set for themselves such as:
With this self-reflection, women can start to know themselves more, speak of themselves better (internally and externally) and hone their message. Sometimes, however, there are still organizational and relationship challenges that don’t allow female voices to rise to the top for which Gilbert Crofton provided some great best practices.
One thing some women need to learn over time is how to present differing opinions. Gilbert Crofton recommended that when you are going to be controversial or bring up an objection to management or a team, practice what you are going to say before you go in and say it. Pitch it and listen to the objections, then pitch one more time while addressing the objections, but don’t go for a third strike.
Also, when making a transition or thinking about a transition, don’t run from something, but run to something. In other words, don’t make a change because you are trying to run away from something, make sure you are making it for the right reasons.
By putting these best practices into place as well as combining it with the earlier self-reflection advice, women leaders can start to be more confident in themselves, their voice and tackle another factor – time and life management.
Are you happy with how you are spending your time?
This was the question Gilbert Crofton asked the audience. She reasoned that achieving self-balance is the best gift you can give yourself. You need to make choices day-by-day, however, so list areas you should be spending time on daily and adjust as needed.
Alyssa Fitzpatrick, general manager of worldwide channel sales at Microsoft also had a powerful message about work-life balance saying it needs to be redefined. It often, for example, comes down to reprioritizing. As a career-oriented woman, who also happens to be a wife and a mother of two children, her speech resonated with me.
She says we need to re-define work-life balance because it’s not really anything you balance. Work and life intersects and is a continuum; it’s not a balance but a shift. Each day, we need to set our own expectations and shift accordingly. Some days, we may need to work a 12-hour day to get a project done. Another day, we may stop work early to go to a school performance. The important thing is to realize you need to shift each day based on what is important. Some of her best practices include:
Achievement. Leadership. Balance.
While these three areas are not exclusive from each other or the only factors at play for women in tech, they are prevalent themes we must learn to prioritize. While the tides are changing a bit since those 2006 news clippings, there’s still a lot of work to be done and that work starts with how we talk to ourselves and the message we deliver to others.
Thank you to CRN for including me in Women of the Channel again and for the inspiring women I watched at the leadership summit, spoke with and got inspired by.