At DLA Piper's fifth Global Women's Leadership Summit in Chicago, attendees heard from three influential keynote speakers: Carla Harris, vice chairman, managing director and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley; Retired US Army Brigadier General Becky Halstead; and Fortune 500 business consultant and best-selling author Bonnie St. John. Although each speaker has applied her talents to a different field, all three keynotes focused broadly on the choices successful leaders make to positively influence those around them and the ways leaders in the business world can apply these strategies at their own organizations.
Cultivate and strengthen relationships
To be detached or distant as a leader in today's workforce is to lose the respect and confidence of your employees, Carla Harris noted. Instead, leaders should actively engage with those they manage, as it has become much more common for employees (particularly millennials) to crave frequent feedback and transparency in the workplace.
It is also crucial to create an environment where people feel free to try out-of-the-box ideas, she explained. If they feel there will be a high price to pay for mistakes, they will not innovate. However, if you have built solid relationships with the members of your team, you will be able to leverage their collective intellect for a better result. An important component of leading is showing humility, Becky Halstead told GCs at the Summit. When you have enough trust to step out of the way and let others do their jobs, your department will operate more smoothly.
Hold yourself accountable
The first person you must lead is yourself, Halstead added, explaining how she refused to ask of her soldiers something she would not be willing to do herself. When you are holding yourself accountable, your employees will be more likely to hold themselves to the same high standard. And while the importance of communication is rarely forgotten, Bonnie St. John reminded in-house counsel that communicating about communicating – in other words, talking to those you work with about the best ways to touch base and stay on track with projects – is just as vital to maintain accountability.
Learn to overcome small setbacks
While resilience is often associated with the effort needed to get back to normal after a severe setback, professionals at the top of their game should focus on “micro-resilience,” a set of strategies tailored to help driven individuals perform at a higher level, Bonnie St. John stated.
Her micro-resilience techniques included refocusing your brain on the task at hand, reframing your attitude to be more positive and renewing your spirit by tapping into purpose as a source of energy. St. John likened leaders who successfully employ these strategies to top tennis players who are able to quickly move on from their mistakes in order to enter the next phase of the game from a position of strength.