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Career Tips For Newcomers to Digital Industries (4)

“Be totally aligned as a leader with who you are and your values. Your authenticity will inspire”

by Anne de Kerckhove, CEO, Freespee

Career tip #1: Focus on what moves the needle

As a female leader, I often want to resolve every issue, help every team member, support every initiative. That’s simply not possible, nor is it my role. As a CEO, I need to focus on the things that matter the most for my organization, the big strategic imperatives. It’s important to empower and trust other team members to manage the broader set of issues. Regardless of your role and your seniority, don’t drown in detail. Elevate your work to what matters, to what makes impact. And don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the North Star.

Career tip #2: Bring laughter and joy to your work

Make your work environment fun. Allow people to express joy. Celebrate successes large and small. Laugh about the small failures and silly moments. Creative and successful teams are happy teams. Joy transmits positive energy and is incredibly powerful. It spreads across a team and creates unity. So walk into your office with a smile on your face.

Career tip #3: Be honest and transparent

I manage hyper-growth companies. Managing such high velocity means my teams will inevitably fail, almost as often as they succeed. So will I. I will make wrong calls. We are human. We make mistakes. What matters is to talk openly and honestly about the failures and to never hide them. I install a culture of full transparency and accountability. I share our results across the entire organization. From my board all the way to our support teams, we share openly and accept full responsibility for our mistakes.

Career tip #4: Kill the bad apple, trust your instinct

We have all made bad hiring choices: people that on paper are perfect but in real life don’t respect our values and are not team players. The minute you identify such an individual, trust your instinct and get them out of your organizations. Don’t let the problem fester. A single bad apple can poison an entire team very quickly.

Career tip #5: Find the environment in which you excel

Context matters as much as content. Don’t select roles purely on their content. Find a working environment that  will make you shine. I started my life in banking and consulting. It was super interesting work and I was surrounded by amazing people, but it was not me. I thrive in fast, entrepreneurial environments. I was lucky enough to have a mentor at BCG who coined me. He said I was the most action-oriented person he had ever met. He planted the seed of entrepreneurship. Seven companies later, I have never looked back and I often think of him and thank him for what he did for me. Now it’s my time to give back and mentor talent towards success. Nothing is more rewarding.

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