In the last few months, I started providing guidance, and start mentor relationships with a number of young women with technical education.
All these young women have three wonderful qualities in common.
1. They understand the power of Listening
Every modern day leadership article lists this trait as one of the most important qualities of a leader. It makes us better communicators. It enables us to create a good rapport with those we work with. When you listen actively, you tell the speaker that she/he can trust you, and what they say matters to you.
Spears describes this as one of the 10 characteristics of a Servant Leader:
“Leaders have traditionally been valued for their communication and decision-making skills. Although these are also important skills for the servant leader, they need to be reinforced by a deep commitment to listening intently to others. The servant leader seeks to identify the will of a group and helps to clarify that will. He or she listens receptively to what is being said and unsaid. Listening also encompasses hearing one’s own inner voice. Listening, coupled with periods of reflection, is essential to the growth and well-being of the servant leader.”
Every one of my young women mentees listens deeply and respond with thoughtfulness. They reflect on what was said and are able to bring their thoughts into future conversations.
2. They understand the power of persuasion
They recognize that authority doesn’t always get what one wants. Convincing the listeners as to why something should be done in certain way yields results one can count on. These young women use language effectively and communicate their thoughts and ideas succinctly. They use information derived from relevant data very effectively to support their points of view. The importance of being methodical and logical about how to present their views is well in hand. They make sure they hear other points of view, and call out the ones that merit further discussion. They do this with humility and grace, thus making themselves very appealing in technical reviews, investor pitches and any other business oriented conversation.
The Inc.com article by Kevin Daum says these are the seven things persuasive people do consistently:
- They Are Purposeful
- They Listen … and Listen … Then Listen Some More
- They Create a Connection
- They Acknowledge Credibility
- They Offer Satisfaction
- They Know When to Shut Up
- They Know When to Back Away
While this article was written with the sales function in mind, we are all in sales, one time or another. The young tech women I am mentoring have a great start on this.
3. They understand the importance of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence in the workplace is as important, if not more, as technical abilities for success. It differentiates a well-functioning organization from a dysfunctional one.
The business case for Emotional Intelligence has been well documented.
The components of Emotional Intelligence are pictured in charts such as this:
My mentees show in their interactions many of the key ingredients of Emotional Intelligence. While their education is technical, they seem to have an inherent appreciation for the so-called “soft skills”. In my conversations with them, I am impressed by how they make connections, and how they can articulate their strengths and weaknesses and how open they are to feedback. Some of them are highly socially aware, and others not so much, but I am very hopeful that in the future they would grow into leaders who comprehend the full spectrum of Emotional Intelligence.
Years of technical education that qualifies us to work in the tech industry does come at a cost of not paying attention to skills that help us be successful in the real world. I am thrilled to see these young women have some nascent qualities they can develop and have great careers being leaders in Tech or in any endeavor they undertake. As a mentor, I can’t wait to see each of them develop her full leadership potential. I expect I will learn a lot as well in the process!