As I look back on 2017, there are many themes that I’ve seen in the channel. But the one theme that I’m most proud to be a part of is the ongoing rise of leadership among women in the channel.
Leadership in the channel is more important now, during a time where we see so much in the news about workplace struggles. In fact, on my flight home last week after another inspiring Women of the Channel Leadership Summit, a headline caught my eye: TIME named #MeToo 2017 Person of the Year. When I saw the article, a mixture of relief and anxiety formed a lump in my throat. It’s been incredible and empowering to see women speaking up, in the most difficult instances and it goes to show how powerful woman can be.
Speaking up. Being vocal. Building leadership. I had just spent the last three days in Manhattan networking with 750 smart, professional and energized women from channel IT, and this had been the primary topic.
2017 is the year of speaking up, and it’s not over yet.
Now, more than ever, women need to lead, inspire, and break new ground. Together we can change the way we think about our approach to sales, marketing, and partner management. We have the power to make a change. Here are a few points that I took away from the Women of the Channel Leadership Summit last week:
Learn from our predecessors.
Did you know that a woman co-founded Cisco? Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco, used the money from its sale to pursue interests in animal welfare and women’s writing. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Women have been breaking ground in every field throughout history, engineering to homemaking and everything in-between. Sadly, not many of these pioneers are household names, but this can and should change.
Embrace your leadership role.
Karyn Schoenbart, author of MOM.B.A., and CEO of The NPD Group, was a panelist who discussed the importance of avoiding the Imposter Syndrome. Today, there are only 32 female CEOs in the Fortune 500, which is only about 6%. So, it’s not surprising to me that the Imposter Syndrome is so prevalent with today’s leaders. The Imposter Syndrome is the feeling that a qualified and capable leader gets when she worries that she will be discovered to be a fraud, outed as a failure. It’s not exclusively a women’s issue, but predominantly manifests itself with women. It’s so important for women to feel confident about their accomplishments and comfortable with branding themselves as capable leaders.
Build your brand as a leader.
During the conference, Denise Lee Yohn described the keys to building a corporate and personal brand. Her number one imperative is that great brands start from the inside and require a strong commitment. We must build authentic cultures that organically “give back.” If we are successful in creating this culture, our customers will pay a premium for it! The end result is higher profits, stronger customer loyalty, lower overhead, higher valuation and goodwill. So, why wouldn’t all companies want to focus their investments in in this kind of branding?
From my vantage point, 2018 looks to be the year of owning your own experience and redefining household names.
To quote HP’s Stephanie Dismore, “It’s a great time to be a woman in this industry, and it’s a great time to be a woman in the US.” Think of all the women who came before us and fought to secure our rights. As leaders who have a seat at the table, it is now our responsibility to speak up.