Following the status quo is not my aim. I don't think it's your best ally when you want to create something new and make a difference. Movement ideally has one direction: forward.
Recognizing potential and giving people room to develop is one of the most important roles of contemporary leaders. Looking back over my career, I have met a wide variety of leaders, for example, those who challenged and encouraged me, who quickly gave me a lot of credit - sometimes more than I gave myself. Coming from marketing and PR, I ultimately ended up in sales and developed my skills further there. I didn't even know that this was one of my greatest talents until later! Then there were also those leaders who slowed me down, who made me feel that I was too demanding. For example, during salary negotiations or when it came to promotions. Just a few years ago, it made a significant difference whether you negotiated as a man or a woman; a confident woman didn't always get the raise she deserved. I don't regret any of it, and I would do most things the same way, because it has brought me to where I am today.
Fortunately, things have changed; Many companies have become more flexible, courageous, and creative - not least because of the experiences of the pandemic. I would have liked to try out other working models in the past, such as working from abroad or reducing to 80 percent, but unfortunately, it was widely regarded as a career killer. For me it was always a case of either-or, zero-or-one: either work full-time in the office or forgo any advancement. For one employer, my sabbatical plans limited further career opportunities. Nevertheless, I have not regretted it. Today, things would be different.
I think it's only now that we’re starting to see the full potential and see what an enormous accelerator happy colleagues can be for businesses too, and how much a company benefits from trust and an open and appreciative culture. This also includes the fact that recruiting is done differently than it used to be, and in this respect, too, people look more at development potential than just experience or formal expertise. I purposefully look at resumes that don't fit the criteria 100 percent. We want to think differently; outside of the box, as the saying goes. If you always hire those whose thoughts echo your perspectives, you don't get any fresh impetus. It's important to me that people bring openness and social skills to the table, because without them sales is impossible. In addition, given the speed of change, adaptability and courage are particularly important. We are not a tech-only company, but the tech part is becoming bigger and more important. The upheaval is in full-swing, and this will intensify in the coming years.
The pandemic has given us an additional push toward more flexibility. This helps everyone who needs or wants to lead their lives differently. It doesn't matter whether they want to work less or remotely due to family situations or other private reasons. They are no less valuable because of it. Someone who "only" works four days a week may be more productive and innovative than someone who is always working overtime. That's a realization that has only taken hold in recent years - and certainly still exists in some companies. Mothers always used to be subject to these beliefs when they left the office at 4pm; as if they were going to the spa and not devoting themselves to another important task besides their job. Some women were not even hired in the first place because employers were afraid they might soon become pregnant. This is where managers need to be role models and set standards. How they deal with part-time employees and mothers, for example, and what models they offer them away from the former traditional 9-5, is an indicator of a modern corporate culture.
I'm also facing a change. I'm having my first child in April. We've found a very good solution here at PAYBACK. A colleague is standing in for me during my parental leave and I would like us to run the department together when I return. It would be an absolute stroke of luck - because it would mean that new, exciting projects would be added to my existing duties. And it's only possible because my partner will do the same. We will both reduce our working hours and share the childcare work. It is worth noting here that companies and politicians can change a lot and create the right framework conditions, but everyone can only realize their potential if people adopt equal rights in their private lives too.
This article is part of a content collaboration between FemaleOneZero and PAYBACK. The marketing & loyalty platform enables consumers to collect points with hundreds of relevant companies offline, online and on the move – with just a single card or the PAYBACK app.