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3 Leadership Takeaways - Women in Technology Panel at Oracle Ascend

Gina Armada    June 26th, 2024

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A few days ago, I had the privilege of presenting at Oracle Ascend, participating on the popular Women in Technology panel. It was my second year presenting on the panel, and I was again impressed by the overall event and the audience’s engagement at this specific session. Leadership is a key success factor for technologists, especially as competition continues to increase and the rate of change accelerates due to the advances in AI. As someone passionate about leadership, technology, and the advancement of women, this conference panel was the perfect opportunity to learn, share actionable takeaways and get feedback from other technology professionals. Let me share a brief overview of the session concepts and actionable takeaways to further develop leadership skills critical to success in the digital age.

I. Leadership Goes Beyond Titles

Organizations come in all shapes and sizes, as do leadership roles and expectations. And it is critical to remember that leadership is about influencing and guiding others, rather than holding specific titles. One challenge for leaders of organizations of any size is that they must be adaptable and proficient in executing multiple roles.
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Consider your own experiences with leaders who you trusted. As I asked the audience during the session, can you think of coaches, teachers, family members or supervisors who embodied the traits of leadership you want to emulate? Learning how to recognize leadership strengths and potential in others – regardless of formal role or organization – is a great way to practice developing our own unique leadership styles.

II. The Workforce Shift from Static Jobs to Dynamic Skills

Organizations of all types need to be more agile, and to meet the need, static jobs are shifting to dynamic work where employees learn and apply skills. Speaking to an audience of technologists, I saw a lot of heads nod when I commented on the increasing number of skills that will be automated over time with robots and AI processing. However, not all skills can be automated. Let me share 3 critical leadership skills highlighted during the session that require a human touch, with a couple of practice ideas for each skill, plus a book recommendation for additional learning.

III. Three Skills Critical to Effective Leadership

Consider these 3 human skills critical to effective leadership and create a plan to make gradual improvements over the next year. Here is the start of a framework for your plan, so just assign due dates and set milestones for yourself!

1. Emotional Intelligence

Key Concepts

Self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, interpersonal skills, continuous learning.

Benefit Example

Let’s consider the self-awareness dimension of emotional intelligence. You can conduct a SWOT analysis on yourself to assess and reflect on your strengths, your blind spots and your opportunities. Keep a journal of observations to maintain continuous self-awareness over time, with notes on your successes and areas for improvement.

Practice Opportunities

> Ask for 360-degree feedback to gain insightful perspectives.

> “Listen with the ear of your heart” to enhance your ability to empathize and understand others.

Recommended Reading

Working with Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

2. The "Yes, and" Mindset

Key Concepts

Originates from improvisational comedy, promotes active listening, co-creation, collaboration, and positivity that aligns well with a growth mindset

Benefit Example

The “Yes, and” mindset is a method for building on others’ ideas, encouraging co-creation and innovation to create even better outcomes; use throughout any kind of organization can help create a culture of collaboration among empowered decision makers.

Practice Opportunities

> Rephrase “no” statements into “yes, and” to transform challenges into opportunities.

> Sign up for an improv comedy class or hire a corporate improv professional to coach your team on the “Yes, and” mindset.

Recommended Reading

“Getting to Yes, And” by Bob Kulhan 

3. Authenticity

Key Concepts

Authentic leadership involves decisions aligned with your values and beliefs to lead with conviction, be able to make tough choices, accept and learn from failure, and be perpetually guided by your personal North Star across your actions and relationships.

Benefit Example

Authenticity enables relationships to be built on trust; the power of human relationships can’t be replaced by any type of technology.

Practice Opportunities

> Reflect on your values, beliefs, motivations and consider how you want to be perceived; write them down.

> Practice vulnerability by sharing your mistakes; own up to failures and promote transparency to build stronger relationships.

Recommended Reading

Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown, along with her podcasts

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Many session attendees stopped by the MHC booth after the session or caught me in a hallway, affirming their desire to continue improving these 3 leadership skills. Several felt that they were not always supported by their organization or able to prioritize the time given the grind of daily work. After the session, the audience responded to our brief online survey regarding leadership, and the results confirmed that only 50% of respondents say their organization invests in leadership training.

The Call to Action to Advance Women in Technology

Finally, as a female technology company leader, I had to remind the audience that we still have a tremendous untapped opportunity to benefit from new talent by supporting women in tech. After all, only 25% of executive leaders in technology companies globally are women, despite women comprising 50% of the workforce. Diverse perspectives drive the greatest innovation and problem-solving, and we all know the world has problems to solve.

What can you do? Start small, specific, and local. Support a current – or future – female technologist in your own network (e.g., friend, niece, daughter, neighbor, new hire, colleague). Ask what you can do to help that individual reach her goals and take the next steps. Add this responsibility to your 2024 list of personal leadership development goals to hold yourself accountable. The world needs leaders like you who value diverse perspectives and recognize that we can do more to solve the challenges of today and tomorrow.

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Gina Armada

Gina Armada, Chief Executive Officer of MHC, brings 27 years of expertise leveraging technology to deliver business solutions and generate value for customers. Under Gina’s leadership, MHC delivers intelligent workflow and content automation solutions that empower organizations to streamline operations, boost productivity, and deepen customer engagement. Gina worked at Accenture until she joined MHC in 2008, serving in multiple roles until she was named CEO in 2019. When Gina isn’t piloting the growth of MHC’s solutions and services, she is active in supporting youth sports and loves spending time with family and friends.

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