We’d like to introduce a new interview series that pays homage to inspiring tech leaders. Over the next few weeks, you’ll hear from a number of Alfresco’s leaders from various parts of the business including sales, product, marketing and others. They’ll share with us their work styles and techniques for inspiring their teams, career lessons learned over the years as well as their professional mentors. We hope the interviews ignite ideas that you can apply in your own career. Please share with us what you look for in great leadership and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #techleader @alfresco
In our first interview, I speak with Sydney Sloan, Alfresco’s CMO who walks us through the ways she leads her global marketing team and the ways she continues to challenge herself professionally.
Judith Rich: What leadership techniques do you employ to motivate your team to achieve success?
Sydney Sloan: I believe if you surround yourself with great people, instill an environment of learning, experimentation and proactive feedback; and challenge each other to be the best you can be, you will succeed. I’ve learned over the years to focus on hiring people who fit best with the culture, invest in team building and relationships, and then be open to what the team needs.
I love sitting down face-to-face (or virtually) with our extended team and learning about what’s on their mind and asking them for suggestions on how to make things better. Getting this kind of direct feedback is valuable to me and I use that “data” to come up with fresh ideas, and to inform how to strengthen our team’s dynamics and performance.
JR: What are some qualities others may not know about you and your leadership style?
SS: While it’s important to portray strength and decisiveness as a leader, I’m not afraid to be vulnerable and admit that I don’t know something. I often ask for clarification or ask probing questions to learn more about an area that’s unfamiliar to me. Our product experts will see this in action, as I often ask them about how our technology works, and what it means to our buyers and users. Understanding the technology is one thing, but knowing how to connect it back to our audience is just as important.
JR: What’s a key lesson you’ve learned by leading cross-functional teams?
SS: For me, it’s all about connection. Connect with the folks on your team but also don’t forget about the outside world. Getting outside perspective is just as important to bring in new, fresh ideas. Connect with other smart women and men you’ve worked with in your past life, use them to gain perspective and don’t be afraid to ask for advice or their help if needed. You never know where the next winning idea will come from. Also, always give credit to your sources. A strong leader is never afraid to give credit where it’s due.
JR: To further elaborate on that point, who’s your professional inspiration and why?
SS: I’m inspired daily by people I meet, and I learn and draw from them. More recently I’ve been able to participate in some advisory capacity and working directly with founding entrepreneurs. What I see, and what is inspiring is that technology is changing our world at a pace that I couldn’t even fathom when I joined the workforce. I’m propelled by the possibilities of new technologies that will re-frame how business is conducted and transacted even 5 years from now. When my children enter the workforce, they will have access to data, understand how to use technology and have access to more information than ever before – the future is what inspires me the most!
For more insight from Sydney, please read her interview with Liberty Mutual CIO, Mojgan Lefebvre.