Cause and Success: Leadership for Women in Tech

Heather Furby

July 20, 2017

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Welcome to the “Cause and Success” series for women in the technology industry . . . and beyond. There are cause and effects in business, and I want the number one effect to be your success. When it comes to causing your success, there is only one cause—that's you.

“Cause and Success” is dedicated to changing the face of women's leadership so that you can lead to impact. I want every woman to understand how to be the cause of her success, no matter her circumstances.

It can be hard enough to keep up with the fast-paced demands of today's business. The tech industry thrives on intense competition that is nestled alongside interdependence among rivals. Cloud-based collaboration brings new challenges to dispersed team management, navigating cultural differences and confronting language and time barriers. Complex innovation demands a solid grasp of ambiguity and constant change. This adds up to create a unique environment requiring a special set of leadership skills.

Add to that that women must learn to build our confidence, adjust our natural language, and play a game that uses many skills we were told to ignore or deny for most of our lives, and it makes the landscape seem almost impossible to navigate.

And that's why I created the “Cause and Success” series for WITI Strategist subscribers. I want to change the conversation to help you understand what you can do, rather than focus on statistics and examples of how the world is stacked against women in business. In short, together we will transform our mindsets into those of empowered leaders, leaving behind any victim mentality we were taught.

Each month we will identify a specific area of leadership and give a step-by step-process to helping you understand the issue, improve your skills in communicating what you need, and teaching you to navigate a variety of challenging situations. If you like what you read, let us know, and we'll give you more. If you have questions, we have a free monthly call-in time, in which you can ask anything and learn how to apply the skills to your specific situation.

You can't control the hand you were dealt in life, like race, gender, sexual identity, physical abilities, or country of origin; but you can certainly become a master at how you play your cards.

The reality is that the more you advance your career, the less support you have. You have a smaller group of peers, less opportunity for bouncing strategies off of informed colleagues, and it's often difficult to figure out where to invest your limited time and resources. The focus becomes more and more on mentoring a team, rather than getting a job done.

The world does not need more female leaders who know about women's leadership.

We need female leaders who are decisive and grounded during times of change, uncertainty, and doubt. This type of leadership is not taught in books or school. It's taught through experience.

The goal of the “Cause and Success” series is to combine mindset, skill set, and strategy to bring out your highest and best contribution in every setting. Leadership is not contained to one realm of your life; it is a lifestyle and permeates work, business, personal, and family. You can expect to gain new insights into what holds you back from feeling the success you want, you'll find a new sense of achievement, and you'll learn to build a spectacular business network of other successful women in business.

So let's get started.

This month, we'll start at the beginning. I hear it's a good place to start.
1. To master the special needs of today's business leader, you must begin with two simple things:
2. You need to know your starting point.
3. You need to know where you're going.

This seems ridiculously simple, but it's not always easy, and most of us leave it out and get distracted by the day-to-day drama of life.

Your Starting Point

If I were to drop you in a desert somewhere in the world, tell you that you need to get to my office in Northern California by Tuesday at 11:00 a.m., and then give you maps of every street in the world and access to unlimited money, what's the first thing you'd need to know? Where you are.
You can't take advantage of any resources unless you are honest with your starting point, and most of us are not honest with ourselves. We either say we are further along than we are and create a path of resources we are not ready to use, or we tell ourselves we do not have the skills and talents we do have, and we create a learning path full of things we already know. In the latter case, we usually stop moving in the direction we want because we're bored or feel like we're running out of time.

So, the first step is to create a personal inventory of your skills, talents, training, and resources so that you know the reality of what you are facing. Don't worry if there are gaps. This is for you only. Brag to yourself, because if you can't tell yourself the truth, you won't be able to tell others.

Where Are You Going?

You need to have a vision. And this is where the second problem begins for most women. We dream too small. We undervalue what we can accomplish and what we want to accomplish. All too often, women stop themselves before we begin by assuming what we want is not possible. We move to the ‘how’ too quickly.

  • How can I get that promotion if I've never done the job?

  • How can I have a family and a career?

  • How can I ask for more money?

  • What if my vision changes?

This is where having your vision, written down or in picture form (a vision board, for example), is critical. Once you are honest with where you want to go, you can create a plan to get you there. Then you look at your visual or written board every day and think about what it feels like when you have all of those things and have accomplished all of those goals.

And put aside the worry that your vision will change. It will. I am 100% sure your vision will change over time. Usually, as you begin to accomplish some of your goals and see yourself as even more competent, you realize you did not dream big enough, and you'll reset your new vision.

But that's in the future, and you are now.

So, Here's Your To-Do This Month

Make an inventory of all your skills, talents, and training—don't just limit them to a career.
Get your vision board in place, somewhere you'll see it or read it every day.
Next time, we'll look at what to do when you feel stuck on a decision. And yes, you'll want to have your inventory and vision with you so we can create your roadmap.

Heather Furby, creator of Cause And Success, is a business strategist and innovator in leadership development. She is director of a business leadership summer camp where adults explore and discover new levels of leadership without risking reputation, business progress, or hurting trusted teams. Results of working with Heather are accelerated profits, increased team productivity, faster decision making, and solid communication skills, but more importantly, you have fun on the journey.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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