Lean In, and Level It Up

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NovemberWSSPanelFountainBlue’s November 10 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Lean In and Level It Up. We launched the panel talking about our greatest take-aways from Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’. 

  • Work through your fear and find your voice.
  • Take a seat at the table at every opportunity, no matter what your role or level or background or authority is.
  • Be vulnerable and authentic.
  • Your career is not linear – it’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.
  • Have the confidence to be your full self.
  • Don’t take your foot off the accelerator. 
  • Surround yourself with those who would support you in stretching and reaching for what’s next. Be that person for those around you.

A compilation of our panelists’ advice for leveling up is below.

Be a leader you can admire.

  • Be confident enough to be assertive, humble and kind enough to be respected.
  • Challenge yourself to identify and overcome your fear.
  • Work hard and be passionate about and good at what you do. 
  • Spell out the problem, articulate the solution and detail the results for the work you do.
  • Try not to take things personally. Focus on the facts and the data.
  • More important than the work you do is the feelings you instill in others. Be the kind of leader who makes others feel good.
  • Be honest, open, transparent and authentic, especially when there’s a lot of ambiguity. 
  • Say what you’ll do. Do what you said. Show the data behind the results.

Seize every opportunity to grow.

  • Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Embrace the risk with every opportunity. Be comfortable with the ambiguity so that you can define and create success.
  • When you come against a difficult ‘either this or not’ decision, try to choose ‘this AND that’.
  • When you’re considering a great new work opportunity, make a choice based on your values and your priorities. 
  • Diversify your training, background and experience.
  • It can be overwhelming to be in the midst of a huge problem, which is also an opportunity. Have the support system around you so that you can take it one step at a time. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the ride.
  • Ask for the resources and authority and empowerment so that you can solve complex problems.
  • Learn from your mistakes. See failure as opportunities. Have a resilience to keep pushing forward, despite any setbacks.
  • Women may get fewer opportunities to lead at the highest level, and even when they do, the opportunity might not be ideal. However, the women who are succeeding even under extreme circumstances are paving the way for more women to reach the highest level, and grow the company and team from that level.

Be Collaborative.

  • It takes a village – be that supportive leader for others. Seek the support from others.
  • Grow your network so that you can have a broad and deep support base, and a broader view of the world.
  • Get the help and support you need to succeed. Delegate the things that you don’t want to do. 
  • Work with your team to get from point A to point B. But remember that not everyone can get from here to there, especially when there’s too much ‘history’ involved.
  • As you rise, always make room for others.
  • Build relationships with teams across the company. Trust others and be worthy of their trust. 
  • Partner with your spouse to divide up the other tasks so that everything is good at the home front. 

Be the best YOU you can be.

  • Keep reaching for stars. 
  • Embrace failure as a learning opportunity.
  • Have mentors and heroes, but don’t try to replicate what they do. Be original.
  • Be versatile and broad in your impact so others can’t box you into a specific label. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Celebrate all your little successes.

The bottom line is that YOU are the best YOU there can possibly be. And YOU are in charge of Leaning In, to get the support you need, and Leveling Up, to the level that works for you.

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Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Polycom and our panelists! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Madhavi Deshmukh, Head of Product Management, Security Products, PayPal
  • Panelist Laura J. Durr, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Polycom
  • Panelist Niki Hall, VP Corporate Marketing, Five9
  • Panelist Ishita Majumdar, Senior Director of Products, eBay
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP, Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks

Please join us also in thanking Polycom’s CEO Mary T. McDowell, who provided such inspiring introductory remarks to launch the panel discussion.

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