Executives share “Lessons in Leadership” with OutNEXT 2018 Global Summit

Leanne Pittsford, Founder + CEO, Lesbians Who Tech + Allies, moderated the “Lessons in Leadership” panel at the OutNEXT 2018 Global Summit, asking corporate leaders to talk about some of the lifestyle approaches that have contributed to their career success, kicking off the conversation by asking about daily schedules.

Felicia Tucker, Principal, Development and Exempt Organization Tax Practice, KPMG, responded:

“My team depends on me to be the calm, steady force when they come in, so I get in around 6:15 to have ninety minutes or two hours to plan out my day so I can then be accessible to my team. As the leader of the practice there are a lot of staffing issues, there are a lot of client issues, all things my team needs to come to me for. If I’m never available, if the door is closed, they’re going to have to figure out what they can, which is not necessarily going to be the best way. So the first part of my day is about being prepared, getting what I need to get done before they get in, so that I can actually be accessible to them.”

Ara Tucker, VP, Head of Talent Strategy, Audible, Inc. (below, left), talked about how important it is to understand – when possible – be strategic about the different types of feedback you can receive from the important people in your life.

“My mom is a physician who did clinical research and now has a career as an executive coach. So I get a lot of input. But I think that for me what was really important was to clarify: ‘When are you my mom and when are you my coach?’ And it’s actually been helpful in other relationships. With my wife, when do I need an editor versus when do I need a wife? Or when do I need my boss to give active feedback and when do I need my boss to let me do it my way? For me one of the biggest ah-ha moments was a recent conversation with my manager. I made a decision and she was kind of pressing me and I said, ‘Is this a game we’re playing? Do you not agree with my decision, or are you just making sure I’m confident in my decision?’ And she said, ‘A little bit of both.’ It was an important realization for me, that sometimes people push back not because they think you’re wrong, but because they want you to have confidence in your convictions. I’m learning more about how people give feedback, how you ask for it, and how you translate it.”

Felicia Tucker continued:

“My team is young and brilliant, and they expect me to at least hear their ideas, so I try to factor their input into my decisions. I might already know in my head what I think the answer is, but I have to understand that a different perspective might actually help me make a better decision. I think a huge part of growing as a leader is realizing that the more you lead, the less you can be involved in the day-to-day. You have to trust the people that work for you, and in trusting them ,you take their feedback. My job is to understand when I actually need to make the decision, and when I need to both take feedback and make the decision.”

Amy Taylor, President / Chief Marketing Officer, Red Bull North America, spoke about some of the best advice she received in her career:

“When I was coming up to the stage of my life where we were talking about whether there would be an opportunity for me to sit in this kind of a chair, I was talking to our CEO and I asked him, ‘Hey listen, you know me. I’m pretty casual, informal with the way I dress, the way I speak. I curse a lot. I’m laid back. I’m not formally trained. I don’t have an MBA.’ I said, ‘Do I need to clean it up? Do you think I need to change and adapt to really sit in that seat?’ He thought about it for a second and he said, ‘Number one, you are completely incapable of it. The good news is number two, hell no. And if the answer was yes, you should go find somewhere very quickly where the answer is no, where you will thrive based on who you are.’ It’s funny because he’s not a super modern or progressive person, but he basically articulated the principles behind bringing your whole self to work in the most authentic way. He gave me his full endorsement and asked me not to change and then reminded me that I’d never be able to anyway. For me this was true mentorship. He got to the roots of some of my insecurities and helped me relive the same lesson that I had learned on the business side, to take fear out of the equation.”

Leanne Pittsford wrapped up the conversation:

“We’re actually the only organization in the world that’s 100% focused on providing value to queer women. Think about that. There are a lot of organizations that have the name and mostly focus on queer women, but we’re the only one that 100% focuses on queer women. I think the trick with inclusion often is figuring out how to be inclusive, how to focus and be specific without being exclusive. We’ve done that with our language, we say lesbian and we say queer women, we use allies. Women are amazing and we want to be inclusive and to go broader, but there was a value that wasn’t being leveraged. The fact that we’ve been able to create an LGBTQ entity that has always been and remains focused on queer women, and that that we’re the largest professional event, that’s what I’m most proud of.”

More than 200 emerging LGBT+ business leaders gathered at Barclays’ headquarters in New York for the 5th annual OutNEXT Global Summit. OutNEXT is the only global talent accelerator specifically targeted to LGBT+ business leaders. Participants in the initiative are hand-selected by their firms as high-potential and high-performing, and receive best-in-class training content by PwC (also a Global Sponsor of OutNEXT).


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