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How Women in Technology Can Be Strong Leaders

Article originally authored by Erin Gillard, Head of Corporate Communications at SAP Canada.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 1.09.55 AM.pngIt’s well known that women in the workplace still face many challenges, and this is especially true for women in the technology industry. In addition to having to juggle the pressures of work and family life, women are typically an underrepresented minority in an industry traditionally dominated by men.

Last week, SAP Canada sponsored a workshop with Computer Dealer News to recognize and discuss women in the IT Channel. Hosted by Leagh Turner, COO, SAP Canada, and Karen Hanna, executive coach, business advisor and head of TKB Hanna and Associates, the workshop looked at 17 ideas on leading exceptionally well in the technology industry  and focused on ways to help women put their leadership skills into overdrive.

Some of the conversation topics at the workshop included:

Understanding talent and managing people is key for female leaders. When Karen Hanna is recruiting for new talent, she looks for candidates that have ‘high talent, medium trouble.’ She believes that, “There’s nobody who is high talent, low trouble, otherwise they’re underutilized … But you need someone whose level of trouble is below their level of talent.”

Women leaders should plan and know how to “borrow talent” from outside their organizations to get jobs done. Taking advantage of talent and experts who are doing consulting work, students and recent graduates opens the pool of information available and have new ways have thinking.

Viewing your employees as being part of a troupe, rather than a team may be a more effective leadership strategy for women leaders. Like a circus troupe, where performers can be part of different troupes and different acts, sometimes employees can filter off from one task to another, making some teams as small as three people and others as large as 50.

Leaders need to talk to employees in a way that validates them. With the 2:1 communication approach, Hanna says leaders can give employees two pieces of positive feedback for every piece of negative feedback, ensuring employees don’t get defensive and are ready to hear constructive criticism.

A key part of being a leader and managing employees is to develop employees as people. Women who want to be leaders need to think about keeping their people employable, even if it’s not within their organization. Being realistic about their skills, both good and bad, and sharing these with the employee in a constructive way ultimately helps the employee grow and develop.

To read more about the Computer Dealer News Women in the IT Channel Recognition Luncheon, click here.

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