In 2010, I was a bright-eyed intern with big dreams for the future. Now, a decade later, I’m the Group Performance Principal for the Global IoT Solutions product portfolio at Telstra.
It feels like my journey as a leader has barely begun – but I’ve already learned so much since I was that hopeful summer vacationer. If I could deliver those learnings to myself a decade ago, they might look something like this:
1. Becoming a leader starts with intent
It may sound obvious but to succeed at anything, you have to start by saying, “I’m going to do it.”
Something I’ve noted throughout my career journey is that some women tend to hesitate to take on new opportunities when we don’t quite meet 100 per cent of the criteria. The reality is most of us never will! It’s all about taking a chance anyway and just doing it (Nike has a point!).
You may underestimate your resourcefulness, instincts and experience, but you will figure it out. For those starting out, put your hand up for a project or initiative that falls outside of your comfort zone – it’s a great way to test yourself.
2. Lead by example
This is a piece of advice my most recent boss gave me – and it truly struck a chord. Think hard about the values, behaviors and style you want to represent, as they will be reflected in how your team behaves and interacts.
How you react to good news, bad news, wins and failures, how you celebrate shared achievements with your own team and even how you choose to address or not address gossip: it’s the sum of all these reactions that leaves an impression on your team members.
3. Be yourself
I used to believe that leadership was a cookie-cutter mold I needed to fit into. But over the years, I have seen lots of inspiring leaders own their uniqueness. It wasn’t conforming that made them great leaders – it was their quirks that made them authentic.
The suits, managerial buzzwords and demeanor I thought were so important as a graduate truly fell away once I continued with my career. After all, anyone can wear a blazer, but it takes something special to be a sincere, effective leader.
4. Never stop learning
I prefer not to spruik books or frameworks as I believe people need to formulate their own thinking, but I do recommend The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. As a leader, you’ll need to have uncomfortable and difficult conversations. Ben’s book talks about how to tackle some of these hard conversations, and his writing style is very easy to read.
Reading and self-education in general are especially important for leaders. But don’t worry too much about following frameworks or only reading books that relate to your field. Rather, read about a variety of topics and you’ll find yourself expanding your general knowledge and critical thinking – which is invaluable for all aspects of life.
Want to learn about my role and hear about Telstra’s IoT journey? Watch the video below.
Ready to expand your professional horizons? Check out open roles at Telstra.