Balancing gender, cultural and leadership styles diversity at the executive level is a prerequisite for improved business performance, innovation and competitiveness. When I look back on my journey to become a CEO in the logistics sector, several factors contributed to my personal and professional growth.
The Road to Leadership Greatness
I am the CEO of DHL Consulting, the independent strategic supply chain and management consultancy of Deutsche Post DHL Group, employing 100 consultants globally. I have been dedicated to the logistics sector for close to two decades. The logistics industry is fast-evolving and really global industry. While the senior executive level is largely male-dominated, I managed to shape my own business mind and values throughout my career at DHL which underpin my leadership style today.
How did I leave my marks in such a competitive and fast-paced industry? Let me share the five key principles that truly defined my career and growth as a business leader.
Find your Passion
I always knew I would lead a company someday. I firmly believe that you need to find your passion and define your future. Do not limit yourself: Dream big. Once you know what you want, just start with the first step of your journey. You do not need to have your entire career path planned out. Just work hard towards your goal and enjoy the journey.
Embrace your Fears
Public speaking was one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome. The first three experiences were painful but I have now grown confident in delivering speeches to broader audiences. My learning? You need to embrace your challenges, specifically when they require you to step out of your comfort zone. This will broaden your horizon and lead to personal growth. As a leader, you are – and will get – constantly challenged; you will be expected to make tough, unpopular decisions or manage impossible situations while keeping your stakeholders happy. Turn these challenges into growth opportunities by proactively tackling them.
I consider confidence to be crucial for women striving for a leadership position. Believe in yourself and your abilities to do the right thing at the right time. It takes confidence to be vocal and get your ideas heard in the workplace. Make yourself visible and know when you need to be bold.
Get Yourself a Sponsor
Partner with a sponsor who believes in you and your potential. A sponsor is an experienced individual who has your best interest in mind and can give you guidance. A sponsor will help you navigate through business dynamics and the C-level’s complex agenda. He or she can act as your sounding board, somebody who challenges you intellectually. My sponsor played a crucial role in my career, guiding me through the organisation and vouching for my leadership capabilities.
Keep a Positive Mindset
Having positive energy and enthusiasm will keep you going. It will help you recognize the true potential in challenging business situations and adopt a problem-solving attitude. Your enthusiasm and sense of humor will enable you to connect with your colleagues, employees, and business partners on a more personal level. As a leader, build on your sense of humor to get your message across, lighten the mood, or put people at ease.
I consider the advancement of women in the logistics sector to be a fundamental requirement for business success. Encouraging diversity of perspectives and leadership styles in the board room will undoubtedly result in better decisions.
I am passionate about helping female leaders succeed and achieving more diversity in management teams. What has been instrumental to your career progression? Join the dialog on women in leadership and share your experience with Sabine Mueller on Twitter or LinkedIn.