Learning from Female Leaders to Build New Ones

Growing up in a family that owned a diner, I had little exposure to the corporate world. My first experience came when I started my sales career in a male-dominated industry. There I was lucky enough to have two great leaders to look up to, men who had a significant impact on where I am today, but it wasn’t until I experienced working for a female sales leader that I was able to truly appreciate what it would take to be successful as a female executive in my field.

Her influence on my career and life is manifold and it’s what has inspired me to provide the same sort of guidance and support to those who work for me. Currently, women hold just 24% of senior roles across the globe – a number that’s been at a plateau for years. Below is what I hope we can all do to help develop future female leaders and help raise that number, putting more women into leadership positions.

Learn from Other Female Leaders

While I have been lucky enough to work under many female leaders in my career, one in particular has become an influential mentor to me, guiding me through the last couple of years. Having a female mentor has been particularly helpful since we can relate on a deeper level, with her having had similar experiences that enable her to provide counsel on issues that often affect women in their careers. In particular, this has included how to fight for what I want and deserve, assure that I’m not overlooked for opportunities, navigate situations that are new to me, and build towards my next career steps. She helped me was when I was working through big life changes, like when I got married. From her I learned how to balance my career with that of my husband, reconcile where I wanted to live versus where the job wanted me to live, and how to plan for a family. Though I’ve always thought of myself as confident, my mentor helped me realize my self-imposed limitations, enabling me to take my career to the next level and be compensated accordingly. Having someone who had been in that role at several companies helped me understand how much I should be making and gave me the confidence to ask for it. Ultimately, having a female leader to trust and look up to has helped me grow professionally and I would not have achieved as much as I have without her. While I was fortunate to have a mentor who naturally appeared in my life, I encourage women to seek out these leaders for their invaluable insights. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who’s wisdom and career savvy you admire.

Help Future Female Leaders

One of the most rewarding parts of climbing the ranks at my last company was that I was able to pave the path for other amazing women in sales, especially ones who had leadership aspirations but who questioned whether they could actually make the executive team. One in particular questioned her ability to lead because she was younger than the other reps on the team and had less overall experience. As a manager, I worked to build trust with these women, getting to know and understand them both professionally and personally. By forging this connection, they entrusted me to guide them through the challenges they were facing while helping them construct the path to their next role – just like my mentor did for me. There were times where my female reps struggled with the confidence to do things on their own, relying heavily on help from others despite being more than capable of handling these situations alone. Many of my female reps would say they couldn’t go to a meeting alone, that they needed someone more senior in the room for the prospect to pay attention and to get the desired outcome. Through the trust I had developed with these women I was able to get them to believe in their abilities and trust their instincts. It’s important to help other women build their confidence while fostering their independence.

Hiring and Promoting Female Reps

In my last role, I managed a team of forty-two and had the opportunity to hire a number of women. Some who started in an entry-level position became some of the top reps on my team. This group of female sales people that I had the privilege to manage and promote always impressed me with their natural drive, something that cannot be taught, and I have no doubt that each of them will continue to be successful. One of my biggest learnings from managing other women is that female reps who want to take the next step in their career often lack the confidence to do so, feeling that they’re never quite ready. One SDR that I worked with was by far the top SDR at the company and deserved to be promoted. An opening came up, but despite her performance, she was hesitant to apply because there were three other SDR’s interviewing for the role that had been at the company longer. It wasn’t until I sat down with her and told her directly that this belief was the only barrier between her and her next role that she began to see this as true. Don’t be afraid to be direct – assure them you think they are ready for a bigger challenge.

I have been lucky in my career to be able to learn from other female leaders, work with amazing women who are on the path to leadership, and discover future female leaders just starting their careers. Each of the women I have worked with has taught me so much and I hope to continue to have an impact on women who work for me in the future.

At Mintigo, 60% of our executives are amazing women whom I enjoy working with and learning from. I’m fortunate to be in the position that I’m in and look forward to leveraging my role to continue growing the number of female leaders in the workplace.

Francine Nikas Stowe

 

Francine Stowe has nearly a decade of sales leadership experience in the B2B space. As global head of sales she runs all of Mintigo’s sales and business development teams. Prior to joining Mintigo, Francine was most recently leading North America Sales for SiriusDecisions. Francine brings experience working with sales and marketing executives and has helped companies grow by leveraging the right processes and technology stack. Francine holds a Bachelors of Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing and International Business from Ithaca College.