Women in Technology Share Top Traits Needed to be a Great Leader
Women’s History Month is a time of reflection, a time to learn about the obstacles women have overcome, and a time to acknowledge the barriers that are still left to break down. Centuries spent advocating for ourselves and for other women and marginalized groups, leadership is ingrained in who we are. As natural born leaders, we work to break down societal barriers each and every day in our communities, workplaces, and in technology. In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’ve asked a few of our Women in Tech (WIT) trailblazers what traits are needed to be a great leader. Receiving a wide range of responses, we’ve compiled these traits into four characteristics: integrity, resilience, emotional intelligence, and empathy. Check out what these trailblazers had to share below:
This trait came up the most amongst our WIT trailblazers, and it makes sense. To gain trust as a leader, being honest, straightforward, and transparent is an essential quality. Integrity is about always trying to do what is right with a purposeful intent. A great team is transparent with one another and a great leader leads by example to encourage this. As Oprah Winfrey once put it, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not.”
“Your team should see that your beliefs, ethics, commitments, and values align with your actions and behaviors.” — Operations Manager, Anna Geortler
“I believe integrity and leading by example is of utmost importance to be a great leader. A good leader has to be a great team player.” — Furqan Ashai, HR Business Partner
“If leaders are not approachable issues will not be resolved. I have an open-door policy. My teams know they can ask me anything, and I will assist them in resolving the issue or provide a path for the resolution.” — Reba Pascoe, IT Systems Sr. Manager
Resilience is the ability to withstand, bounce back from, and work through challenges. Reflecting on the last year, resilience is not just a good leadership trait but generally a good trait for anyone to possess. Elaborating on how companies can be ‘future-ready’ by building a resilient organizational culture, a recent Forbes article stresses the importance of thinking of a growth mindset as not just an individual quality but an organizational one as well. As with adopting any new business objective or initiative across an organization, leaders set the stage. Possessing a growth mindset and being eager to problem solve, a resilient leader can inspire others in the face of new challenges as well.
“Resilience, flexibility and willingness to learn are key skills that will help anyone succeed in this career.” — Ebany Robledo, Training Manager
“One that stands out most to me in a great leader is resilience. Setbacks and change happen. Sometimes too often, however, a great leader can overcome, adapt, and take on the responsibility for helping and inspiring others to do the same.” — Shemaka Encarnacion, Knowledge Engineer
3. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Many of our trailblazers described traits that fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence, like having awareness of and caring for the needs and motivations of others. This doesn’t come as a surprise as studies have shown that women tend to outperform men in this arena. A 2016 study by Korn Ferry Hay Group, showed that women outperformed men in 11 of 12 "emotional intelligence competencies'' and scored equal to men on the 12th competency.
“Emotional Intelligence- To be a leader, you need to look beyond metrics. You can achieve great results with a motivated and energized team.” — Shweta Goyal, Senior Manager
“The ability to empower others and generate enthusiasm. Great leaders are always thinking about how they can build confidence and potential capacity to execute the goals of the people around them. ” — Marisol Granados, Business System Specialist
“Caring is one of the biggest traits you need to be a good leader. Leadership is not about being in charge, leadership is about taking care of the people in your charge. To gain trust and loyalty people have to know you care.” — Elisa Newman, Sr. Solution Architect
There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed rather at not being understanding.” It’s important for leaders to connect with their teams, and to do that, they need to listen and understand. Having empathy empowers leaders to better communicate with others, accept new and different ideas, and manage diverse teams. Employees want to see that their leaders have empathy. In this 2019 study on workplace empathy, 90% of employees reported that they believe empathy is important in the workplace and 80% claimed they’d be willing to leave an employer that doesn’t possess this trait.
“Empathy is a core leadership trait that helps to nurture the team. Being empathetic doesn’t always mean agreeing on other’s views, but to appreciate and have a willingness to understand. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering.” — Sophia Chan, Sr. Manager
“Placing yourself in the other person's shoes ensures success. Sometimes we just need to listen and acknowledge certain situations from another point of view to come to a positive result” — Ebany Robledo, Training Manager
“Good listening skills are needed to be a great leader… Through active listening, you can make well-informed decisions and create trustworthy relationships to guide the organization to our collective goals.” — Jenny Stewart, Operations Analyst
“Being able to lead a diverse team” — Tina Preston, Sr. Portfolio Release Manager
Leadership Traits are Limitless
Being a great leader isn’t limited to these four traits alone. As Sr. Solutions Director, Sue Scheuermann put it, “I don’t think any single trait makes a great leader. Certainly, the words respect, integrity and honesty come to mind. In general, the people I have learned the most from and who I felt were great leaders had all of those qualities. They also valued the opinions of their people, removed barriers when needed, and were constantly promoting their teams and recognizing individual and team successes.”
The Future of Work is Female
We wouldn't be able to champion the future of work without acknowledging and championing the women behind the technology that leads us there. If you’d like to read more from our Women in Technology Trailblazers, check out our WIT page which features fifteen of our outstanding female associates as well as insights from a few of our female leaders. To all of the women reading this, thank you for your leadership in all that you do and to everyone, happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!