Christina Kosmowski, CEO at LogicMonitor, shares her top tips for the next generation of female leaders.
For a woman in business, it can be lonely at the top. Historically, the representation of women in the boardroom has been shamefully low, and equitable hiring at companies across the board has left much to be desired.
But slowly, change is coming. 2022 has seen a new record of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, and as of March this year, there were 74 sitting atop America’s 500 highest-grossing companies. While that only amounts to a female representation of around 15%, it’s up from around 8% in 2021 and is the fourth year in a row that there’s been an uplift.
Women have an incredible ability to affect change in business, and as the faces in the boardroom begin to change, they also have an incredible opportunity to inspire other women to strive to do the same.
Becoming CEO of a company I am passionate about has been a goal since I started my career, and this year I achieved it at LogicMonitor — after two decades in business and senior roles at Slack and SalesForce under my belt. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about being a woman in business. Here is my advice for our next generation of female leaders to thrive:
1. Adopt a “growth mindset”
You will never achieve anything by staying still, so having a growth mindset in business is very important. As a CEO, I know my job is never done. I am constantly looking at how we can improve, evolve and adapt — be that our approach, our offering or our business as a whole. In the current market conditions and at a time of such rapid change, it’s imperative to remain agile and ready to act.
No company is perfect, so always ask yourself what can be done better? Is what we’re doing today helping us to achieve our goals for tomorrow? If you’re ever in doubt, seek out alternate viewpoints and listen to your customers and your employees — having sight of your strengths as well as where improvements could be made is the key to moving a business forward with success.
2. Find a mentor — or several
I was given advice early in my career to form a personal board of directors for guidance and to give me clarity in my decision-making. It was important for me that this board include people who know me across all aspects of my life, to help inform each key decision as authentically as possible.
My personal board includes Maria Martinez — now the Chief Operating Officer at Cisco — who I worked with at Salesforce. She taught me the importance of using data to ensure any decision I made was grounded in insight, and that has been invaluable in my roles with such fast-growing, disruptive companies. I also have former direct reports who are on hand to help ensure I am always doing my best for my teams as a leader, as well as my father and daughter, who see me from an entirely different perspective and can advise me in an entirely unique way.
Build your own team of advisors and build it widely. Have people who will support you, but also people who will ask questions of you to ensure you never sway from what is authentically you.
3. Be your authentic self
On that note — the importance of authenticity as a leader cannot be understated, and that means bringing all parts of you to work. For example, I’m a mother, I have two teenage daughters and that role is undoubtedly a core part of my identity. This shows in my role as a leader — and I want it to. By bringing my whole self to work, it allows me to share a whole host of experiences with my teams and build deeper connections and understanding as we grow together.
Authenticity helps people relate to you and know who you truly are. This kind of relatability is key to your credibility as a leader, and in the wake of trends like the Great Resignation and the disruption that businesses will continue to face post-pandemic, that could make all the difference between retaining talent and losing it.
When it comes to life lessons, though, this is my number one — never, ever give up. From my years working with early-stage disruptive companies, I know that the path to success is rarely easy and never straightforward. It can be easy to yield to outside pressures and second guess yourself, be that the markets or critics, but it’s vital that you stay strong, believe in yourself and never lose sight of your vision.