Tips for Enlarging Your Sandbox

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FountainBlue’s November 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series was on the topic of Tips for Enlarging Your Sandbox: Learn to play with people who don’t act right (like you). Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives and experiences on our panel, representing women from different educational and cultural backgrounds, from different departments, with different experiences and skills. But they had many things in common:
• They constantly strive to learn and improve and make things better for themselves and for those around them.
• They keep raising the bar for themselves, electing to feel uncomfortable rather than settling and being complacent.
• They are succeeding in ways big and small in their personal and professional lives.
• They are constantly giving back, engaging others in their networks and creating bigger, broader infrastructure, supporting the success of more women and men.
• They do not shrink from daunting and intimidating tasks, but always rise up and find a way to create a bigger plan, a collaborative success, and particularly gravitating to challenging tasks and groups.
With the qualities above (note how they are all inter-related and feed upon themselves), it is no wonder that our panelists are so successful, and poised for further success. Our panelists started by commenting on why they thought expanding their sandbox, being open to working with people who did not think and act like you do, was beneficial to themselves personally and to their organizations. They mentioned factors such as:
• Diversity within an organization will fuel innovation and entrepreneurship.
o Seeing something or someone from another point of view will open you up to new experiences and new thoughts which may not have occurred to you before.
• Embracing the viewpoints of others will help distribute the successes, the challenges, the recognition. True leaders will know how to integrate and embrace these varying perspectives for the good of all.
• As we becoming increasingly more global, embracing the viewpoints of others will help us better serve our markets, our partners, our staff, our customers.
• Those who better embrace the varying perspectives of others have a more tolerant, more positive, more constructive outlook on life, which serves them personally and professionally.
• They will also have a larger network to rely on and collaborate with!
Below is some advice they have for those of us interested in expanding our sandbox.
• Be strategic about who you are, clear on what your brand stands for, which must be in alignment with your personal core values. You must first know your strengths and weaknesses, your goals and objectives in order to do so.
• Build a support system and network, including key mentors, who can help you think through and get to where you want to go.
• Leverage social media to spread your message, but manage it carefully to ensure the integrity and consistency of the message.
• Dare to show up, to take a leap of faith, especially when you’re feeling uncomfortable. Showing courage despite the fear is the only way to follow your dreams.
• Find a learning in every uncomfortable situation. Leverage your networks to get the support you need to better ensure learnings and better position yourself for success.
• Know what you’re doing and add measurable value along the way, while you’re connecting people from different backgrounds and mindsets to the cause. Essential to this is the ability to communicate that value, and engage strategic others to also engage, to best serve common interests.
• Make all parties look good and feel like they’ve created a bigger whole together.
• Speak the language of your diverse stakeholders, and know what motivates them before you speak with them.
• Learn from your life experiences as much as your planned career path and challenges.
• When you are feeling uncomfortable working with people who don’t think and act like you, manage your emotional response and bubble up to think through what are you trying to accomplish, what is motivated all the key stakeholders, and how can you work together for a collaborative win.
• The more impossible things you accomplish, the hungrier you become for more challenges, and the more likely your management team will provide them for you. Even if you fail, learn from it, and see it as a necessary stepping stone to success.
The bottom line is to find something you really enjoy doing, and then focus on delivering value to the customer and on how you can work with a diverse team to deliver just that.
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We would like to thank our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series was on the topic of Tips for Enlarging Your Sandbox: Learn to play with people who don’t act right (like you):
Facilitator Rossella Derickson, Performance and Culture Strategist, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Panelist Sabina Burns, Sr. Director Corporate Marketing, Synopsys
Panelist Gina Diaz, Director, License Management Services (LMS) Group, Oracle
Panelist Monali Jain, Head of Salesforce.com Engineering at PayPal, eBay
Panelist Natascha Thomson, Sr. Director, Social Media Audience Marketing, SAP AG
Please join us also in thanking our hosts at Synopsys.

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