Inclusive Leadership: How Kelsy Trigg Uses Collaboration and Openness to Drive Inclusion
Kelsy Trigg is Vice President and Global Head of SAP’s Human Resource (HR) Project Excellence and Consulting team, focused on Global HR Service Delivery priorities. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Kelsy leads a team of eight diverse individual contributors located in various countries around the globe including Germany, the United States, Canada and Singapore. This global diverse dynamic offers Kelsy’s team the opportunity to take advantage of the range of ideas and skill-sets of her team members.
Kelsy’s personal leadership style lends itself to inclusion through her collaborative nature, and her desire to understand team members. Her goal is to create an environment where the people around her can excel to the best of their abilities by tapping into their strengths. Getting to know team members as individuals first is key for creating this environment because Kelsy says one then gets a better sense of their goals and skills. Another step for fostering an inclusive environment is connecting the skills across her team so team members can complement one another.
Methods aside, Kelsy’s core values also drive inclusion on her team. First and foremost, she values trust and remarked, “When you are able to build trusting environments, everything really just grows from there.” Kelsy actively ensures her team maintains a trusting environment so people can find the edge of their comfort zone and fail in a safe space, which she believes is essential to driving innovation.
Another aspect of Kelsy’s approach is the combination of her high standards of excellence and her recognition efforts. Kelsy finds people respond best to positive encouragement and celebrating team success. Furthermore, Kelsy has found that showing humility and openness as a leader is crucial to driving inclusion. She pointed out, “When we share parts of ourselves, show our vulnerabilities, and admit when something is outside of our comfort zone, people are more willing to listen and help.”
Kelsy remembers a time when she shared her less than confident feelings about an upcoming external talk she was doing.
She admitted to her team that it was outside of her comfort zone and she asked for their help preparing. Due to her openness and honesty, her team gave her genuine and helpful advice which was critical for her success. She recalled, “It was fairly terrifying at the time, but I felt really good about it when it was done.”
Kelsy encourages her team to acknowledge their comfort zone boundaries and step outside them with what they call Wild and Crazy (WAC) goals. She genuinely believes in the ability to push ourselves beyond our perceived boundaries and shared, “We are all more of capable than we think we are.”
Recognizing and valuing differences the right way is critical for inclusion as well. Kelsy is aware that her team has different preferences on how they want to contribute and communicate. She has a mix of introverts and extroverts on her global virtual team, and a team-wide conference call is not always everyone’s preferred communication method. To compensate, she sets aside ample time to check in with her team members individually and frequently.
When Kelsy checks in with her team, she listens carefully and focuses on observing more than judging while being thoughtful about different backgrounds and opinions. The team has customer support backgrounds, consulting backgrounds, HR backgrounds, and other experience. Instead of categorizing the team or putting them in skillset boxes, Kelsy focuses on transferable skills which she believes leaders and team members alike underestimate.
Kelsy is proud to work for an organization that values inclusion like SAP does. She notes programs such as Autism at Work, Pride@SAP, and SAP’s Business Women’s Network that do a fantastic job of helping people be themselves and shine. Kelsy is also proud that senior SAP executives are continuing to be thoughtful about inclusive language and images in SAP’s communications. Kelsy hopes leaders and all of us at SAP can continue understanding and celebrating differences, encouraging people to share and build trust, and create the type of safe environment she values dearly.
Want to learn more about inclusive leaders at SAP? Check out the story on SAP’s new inclusive leadership campaign written by Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Judith Williams: Inclusive Leadership at SAP: How Leaders Drive Inclusion with Collaboration and… Goat Yoga?