• The SiriusDecisions Women’s Network invited Lisa Cole of Huron, Amanda Kahlow of 6sense and Amanda Greene of Airbnb to join Megan Heuer and Marisa Kopec for a panel discussion at TechX
  • “Debunking the Myths About Women’s Leadership” focused on data findings from the 2018 Leadership Study and the differences between how men and women view themselves as leaders
  • The study showed that despite preconceptions, female leaders are very confident in their own abilities – and the panel echoed this sentiment

When SiriusDecisions Vice President of Research Megan Heuer joined SiriusDecisions over 10 years ago as its first female analyst, she was told by the other analysts that there was a big difference in the meetings after she joined compared to before. “No one swore at the research meetings!” she laughed. “It took a while for everyone to relax a bit.” With a blend of personal anecdotes about the realities of being a woman in the workplace – and the latest data on female leaders’ self-perception – Megan and SiriusDecisions Vice President of Product Management and Innovation Marisa Kopec recently led a lively discussion called “Debunking the Myths About Women’s Leadership.” The breakfast gathering, sponsored by the SiriusDecisions Women’s Network and 6sense, took place at this year’s SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange in New Orleans. 

This well-attended panel discussion touched on the inherent differences between male and female leaders, as well as the ways that the panelists maintain their own confidence and inspire it in others, how to remain true to one’s self, and the art of cultivating authenticity.

sd womens network panelAfter introducing panelists Lisa Cole, vice president of corporate marketing at Huron, Amanda Kahlow, founder, executive chairman and chief strategy officer of 6sense, and Amanda Greene, head of global operations strategic planning at Airbnb, Megan revealed findings from the SiriusDecisions 2018 Leadership Study, including the eight key leadership characteristics that are critical to driving overall growth. Interestingly, this study had almost equal representation from male and female respondents.

Discussion of the study’s findings not only touched upon the specific leadership characteristics that women rate as more important than men did, but also revealed that with confidence and success comes great responsibility – women are more attuned to and feel more responsible for recognizing, nurturing and encouraging team members and helping them grow as professionals.

Data from the leadership study also showed that despite preconceptions, female leaders are actually very confident in their own abilities – and the panel echoed this sentiment. Additionally, the study revealed that women are more confident than men in several areas, ranking themselves higher in six of the eight leadership traits.

However, women ranked their effectiveness lower for the two characteristics they didn’t rank as highly for importance: data-driven decisions and overall knowledge of the business. This finding could possibly point to the fact that women are not as focused on developing those characteristics – or perhaps do not personally feel as effective in those areas.

Women also ranked industry knowledge and expertise lowest in the list of leadership characteristics they viewed as most important, whereas the men surveyed ranked it highest. Women instead preferred developing people and skills, and ensuring alignment. “Alignment is literally money in the bank,” Megan said. She further underlined the importance of not underestimating the criticality of making informed, data-driven decisions. “You want people to understand the road you’re on, but also understand the destination,” she explained.

After discussing the possibilities as to why women ranked the need for industry expertise as the least important necessary leadership characteristic, Marisa asked the panel to pinpoint some key differences between men and women and how they present themselves. Amanda Kahlow, who recently stepped down as the CEO of 6sense, shared, “I didn’t want my ego to get in the way of the success of the company. As a role model, the best thing I could ever do was to think of the company before myself. I am not 6sense.”

Marisa then posed the question, “As women, how do we create identity and respect?”

“Being your authentic self,” Amanda Kahlow answered. “Women have a greater ability to connect to people and lead with our heart – that’s the strength we bring to people.”

“Do you feel more confident than men at the table?” Marisa then asked.

“I think the path to being perceived as confident is leaning in during moments of anxiety,” Lisa Cole answered. “I also always come overprepared and never go into a presentation without a story that is based in data.”

“We also tend not to delegate as much as we should,” said Lisa, who then suggested a way to overcome this tendency. “Rather than a to-do list, I focus on a ‘to-don’t’ list – I write down what I’m not going to focus on and nitpick so I can spend time on what really matters.”

Marisa then turned the discussion back to the leadership study and what women rated as their strengths – namely strategic vision and collaboration – and asked the panelists to name their best practices in this area. “I pride myself on connecting dots,” said Lisa. “The more you collaborate, the better you can connect dots, and your vision becomes clearer. Collaboration is key – you cannot do it all in a vacuum.”

Amanda Kahlow shared how her entire company went to an off-site location to determine 6sense’s vision, culture and company statement. “I purposely pulled myself out of the conversation,” she said. “This way, people felt as though they created it and they owned it. I didn’t create it – they did it!”

Thank you again to all of our panelists for their participation in this truly inspirational discussion, and stay tuned for upcoming events from the SiriusDecisions Women’s Network!