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Posted by Connie Moore on June 1, 2012
Next week at IBM’s Innovate Conference I'll moderate a panel of highly accomplished women executives who will talk about their personal leadership mindset when taking business risks. The panelists are:
- Cheryl Allison, Director, Raytheon Network Centric Systems
- Ellen Daley, Managing Director, Forrester Research
- Gina Poole, Vice President, IBM Rational Software
- Meg Selfe, Vice President, IBM Rational Software
- Karla Wallace, Senior Manager, General Motors
Note that Forrester’s Ellen Daley will be one of the panelists, joining this impressive group of women execs in IT. If you can’t catch us live at the conference (Tuesday, June 5th at 3:00 PM Eastern), then I hope you’ll join through streaming video (http://www.livestream.com/ibmrational) and Twitter at #ibminnovatewp.
Many people wonder: why offer a panel specifically for women—why not men too? Good question. Men are just as interested in risk taking and leadership as women, so they are invited to participate in the panel and discussion on the Web and Twitter.
But realistically, women and men have different views about taking risks; women often dislike going outside their comfort zone more than men do. For many women execs, it’s an innate skill—but still is one they had to nurture and cultivate throughout their careers. Others more junior often need coaching and mentoring. Women sometimes take their time figuring the lay of the land, and don’t appear confident. Mentors sometimes have to push women to their next job because they get good at something and want to stay with it. But here’s what all the execs say: You’ve got to take risks and have failures too in your career, and stick with it.
With that in mind, here are some nuggets of actionable knowledge that the panelists will share:
Leadership and management skills
Emulate the leaders you admire most in your organization. Born leaders embrace risk because they first embrace challenges (and risk comes with it). It’s a natural leadership skill that you can also learn.
Hire and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Then, put them in an environment where they will succeed. That makes other sharp people want to join you.
Don’t let the lack of headcount hold you back. You don’t need to create a big kingdom—you can create a virtual army instead.
Be open to different kinds of experiences. For example, consider intrapreneurship (versus entrepreneurship) or taking an assignment that no one else wants.
Don’t be afraid of blending your technical and business acumen. Having a technology cornerstone is crucial; don’t be afraid to take assignments that surface, as long as you have this cornerstone. Don’t fear being viewed as technical-- the business world is fast becoming technology pervasive.
Don't be afraid to speak up because someone may judge you. If you are completely honest and transparent, you can come out well in the end. Leaders need the courage to say, “It’s not working,” which might mean putting yourself out of a job. Do it anyway.
Mindset toward risk
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