When a group of smart, ambitious and talented female marketers get together they are unstoppable. That’s what echoed through the conversations during networking and a panel discussion called “Women Leaders Talking About Women’s Leadership” held by AMADC on November 13. Thrive DC, a local charity that works to prevent and end homelessness in Washington, DC was a partner in the event.
A panel of senior marketing leaders came together to discuss how to lead with purpose and power. This amazing group of women included:
• Edith Bullard, Senior Vice President of Marketing Services, Yes&
• Susan Waldman, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Meals on Wheels America
• Deborah Fell, Former Senior Vice President of Marketing, Marriott International
• Tina McCormack Beaty, Vice President of Communications, SHRM
• Moderator: Layla Masri, Co-Owner and President, Bean Creative
How did these female leaders convey their wisdom? They told stories. And since they represented a range of experience, the pictures they painted spanned decades of progress by women in the workforce.
How Far We’ve Come
In the 1970s, when women were just beginning to make their mark as leaders, one panelist shared how hard it was to be a shy newcomer to the C-Suite. She recalled sitting in a room with two dozen male millionaires who expected her to contribute to the conversation. She froze. Her male boss sitting next to her leaned over and said “Speak Up,” and that gave her the courage to find her voice. After that, he “complained” he could not get her to be quiet. Her lesson learned: Even if you say the wrong thing, next time you will be more prepared. Just don’t stop contributing.
Another panelist talked about the lesson she’d learned progressing towards leadership. Her insight: Leadership is not only about being the top dog and leading an entire organization – you can lead from the side, behind, in many different facets of an organization. It’s really about bringing people along and empowering them. Managing a project is also a leadership opportunity, and can help develop the leaderships skills you need to progress in your career.
Micromanagement was also discussed when one panelist explained how she was a bit of a control freak and often told her staff what to do and how to do it. She mentioned to her husband one evening that her staff seemed to keep a distance from her, and her husband asked if she was micromanaging. Wake up call! This leader changed her focus to the objective of her team’s work, and let them manage the process of getting it done. Leaders are the polar opposites of micromanagers; Learning how to have faith in your workforce and to inspire them to greatness are leadership skills.
Perhaps the most revealing story was about a female leader who had always put her career first , loved what she did and thought that everyone on her team felt the same way she did. A member of her staff demonstrated great potential and she decided to promote her to next in command; however, the staff member did not accept the opportunity and cited her desire to focus on family. The career first panelist was shocked: To be an effective leader, you need to understand where people are coming from, what is important to them and meet them where they are.
What do women bring to leadership? Words that come to mind are collaboration, strength, communication and empathy. Female leaders are also thoughtful risk takers who believe that failure is an obstacle, not a deal breaker. Don’t let perfectionism get in your way. The panel left us with this thought: If you are willing to be bold and smart, behind that boldness you’ll reach a little further away to grab that shining star.
In December, AMADC will debut a Women in Marketing Coaching Circle led by Dana Theus, an executive career coach and former marketing executive. A few open slots still remain.