We all work with and encounter women making history every day. Each one might not get a chapter in the history texts being read 50 years from now, but today, each is contributing to something greater — a company, a technology, a message, a movement, a community, a circle of friends, a family.
As Women’s History Month gets underway, we endeavored to tap into some of that history-making energy to illuminate in a series of blog posts the expertise, wisdom and inspiration that the women of Signifyd bring to the world. Today, our focus is on leadership — what it takes, how to be exceptional at it, facing the challenges — so we turned to female leaders across Signifyd’s various teams to hear from the experts.
Find those who want to see you succeed — and ask for help
Ping Li, vice president of risk and chargeback operations, San Jose, California
Trust yourself. I’ve helped a lot of women grow into their roles, and I’ve seen a lot of self-doubt. Sometimes we limit our own growth by setting a box around ourselves. We have to free ourselves from that and allow ourselves to build that confidence and grow.
For example, if you’re a manager who is managing just a few people and then you’re given the opportunity to manage a large team, that leap in responsibilities can be very daunting. When you are managing a few people, you can spend lots of individual time with them. Managing a large team – learning to lead the leaders and delegate — is a very different challenge.
Seek help if you need it. A lot of times, women just keep our challenges to ourselves and say, “I’m going to make it work.” At some point, if you’re hitting a brick wall, you shouldn’t be afraid to seek help.
Be in touch with yourselves in order to lead others
Rejane Leite, software engineering manager, Belfast, Northern Ireland
I decided to go into management rather than continuing on the individual contributor track because I’m fulfilled by seeing other people be successful in their careers.
The main thing I’ve learned is that as leaders, we are here to serve those around us, and we need to take care of ourselves first, before we take care of other people. It’s important to understand your identity: who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, in order to help other people. You need to acknowledge what you’re good at and what you can do in order to serve others.
Managing a team is about managing individuals
Renata Caramelo, risk intelligence manager, São Paulo, Brazil
It’s important to adapt your management style to your team. That’s not as easy as it seems, of course, but it’s one of the most important aspects of leadership. For example, there are those who don’t like someone asking them a lot of questions — they prefer to be given a task and then to work on it by themselves. But others prefer to have someone checking in with them every day to feel supported.
Think like a CEO
Emily Mikailli, chief people officer, San Jose, California
I’ve learned that the best leaders are thinking like a CEO all the time. You cannot be a truly excellent leader if you’re only thinking narrowly about your function. You really need to take time to expose yourself to the rest of the business.
For example, I oversee people operations at Signifyd, but I’ve been able to progress my contributions and value by exposing myself to every element of the business and then driving my people strategy to align with what the top business priorities are.
I see that in all the best leaders I have worked with: Your head of sales, for example, should be making valuable contributions on the product side. Your CFO will be able to opine on your marketing and brand strategy. Everyone is sharing responsibility for culture. Each leader defines the strategy for their domain, but the strategy can’t be siloed.
This is something that’s hard for a growing leader – it’s hard to find time to step out and say, “I’m going to find time to understand this new product area we’re going into.” But until I do that, I’m not going to be able to add real value regarding how we structure the organization or hire for a particular function. This is a form of creativity: where you marry your company’s specific needs with the best ways of doing things. I’m not coming up with something totally new. Instead, I can understand what’s best in class, but I also can deepen my business understanding of my company and see what that’s going to look like in our specific setting.
Looking to join a team that thinks deeply about leadership and nurturing leaders? Come join us.