Making Yourself Visible as a Leader with Dawn Farhi

In this episode of The B2B Leadership Podcast, best-selling author and leadership coach Nils Vinje speaks with Dawn Farhi, VP of Customer Success at Simpplr.
In this episode...

0:58 - Dawn's background - Dawn explains her current role at Simpplr.
2:36 - The concept of the intranet - How has it changed today?
7:06 - Dawn's first leadership role - How did her first role come about?
8:10 - Why you? - What did Dawn do to stand out as a candidate for her leadership role?
11:48 - Practical leadership advice - What would Dawn recommend for leaders looking to get noticed?
17:51 - Ranking up to VP - What key leadership themes and philosophies did Dawn develop in this process?
22:40 - Simpplr philosophy - How does Dawn foster her team culture within her organization?
28:58 - Dawn's advice to herself - What advice would Dawn give her younger self?
31:42 - Dawn's advice to others - Dawn shares practical advice for developing leadership skills.
 
 
Learn more about Simpplr at https://www.simpplr.com/
 
Learn more about your own leadership style at: https://www.30dayleadership.com/
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Why do you think you have to make yourself visible as a leader?

In this episode, our guest Dawn Farhi shared why it's important to make yourself visible as a leader.

Keep reading to know more about this and her leadership journey.

Dawn's background

Dawn Farhi is the VP of Customer Experience at Simpplr, a company promoting employee engagement and employee communication within an organization through modern intranet software.

Organizations of all sizes struggle with getting all their employees aligned on their missions and in giving them all the right and access to critical information to do their jobs.

Simpplr helps these organizations keep all their employees aligned to continue growing in different parts of the world through a digital platform.

The concept of the intranet

The concept of the intranet has been around for a long time. It has been a place to store information. It used to have a poor interface and there have been various iterations ever since.

What Simpplr did was upgrade its concept. They created software that allows two-way conversation between employees and the rest of the organization. The difference is Simpplr provides a modern experience and solves the document and knowledge access issues.

Simpplr makes it easier for people who need to publish information or want to get their message out to the organization to make it easier for the employees to consume.

Simpplr clients can take advantage of having employees engaged in a digital platform so that leaders can understand what other questions need to be answered from employees and what other content should be created to help them do their jobs.

Dawn's first leadership role

The first leadership position Dawn held was in Citrix Systems. She started as a key account manager now called as customer success manager in a growing team.

At the time, it was cutting edge technology to have online meetings and webinars and as a result, the company needed to have more leadership roles.

A leadership opportunity came up to her and she had the support of her bosses. She went through a promotion process and that's how Dawn evolved from an individual contributor to her first leadership role.

Why you?

A lot of times, when people look at leadership, they always assume it's about managing people. But a lot of it is more on how you're helping the other team members, how you're leading different projects and how you're bridging gaps between your team and other functions.

Dawn had a few opportunities to promote her leadership skills, even if they weren't directly with people.

One of her boss' mantras was to always be a known entity. It is important for people to know who you are and what contributions you're making. You have to be proactive to get your name known across your organization.

Not everyone knows and understands what you do and the value that you and your team provide. Everybody else is focused on their own world. It's up to you to become the known entity. Put yourself in the best possible position to be considered for the leadership position that you want, regardless of level.

This was one of the things that helped Dawn win that first leadership role.

Practical leadership advice

If you are someone who wants to be visible at work but is a little uncertain on how to go about doing that, start with getting on projects that will give more experience and exposure to new skills that you need to build.

Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Identify those opportunities and put yourself in a position to either contribute to those projects or create a project that would provide value for other teams. Don't wait for your boss to be the one to identify it. Identify them yourself.

Introduce yourself to more senior colleagues who can bring you on a project. Don't be shy. It's also important that you're in a company culture that is open to that.

Own your own career. Understand that you drive your career and you drive the things that you're going to be involved with. Take that ownership and you'll get involved in more things.

If you have heard of the leadership mantra, "Don't bring me problems, only bring me solutions". Don't dwell on it. It stifles people's ability to want to share problems because you don't always have the answer right away. Sometimes you need to talk through the problem then figure out what the solution is.

You don't need to have the full solution to the problem but at least come with ideas. If you have an idea, it will still at least get your leaders' attention and hopefully get you some momentum.

Sometimes as leaders, you can get locked into what you see right in front of your eyes. Get to the other side so that you can come to the table and say "here's what I've considered, I think this one might be the right path."

Ranking up to VP

One of the leadership core philosophies that Dawn developed which enabled her to be successful as she continued to rise up to the VP level was about being visible as a leader.

Another one that she tried to live by was something she learned from her previous VP which was about being brave to hire people that are better and smarter than you.

Don't be afraid of their capabilities because you feel like it's identifying your own weaknesses. That's exactly what you need to do as a leader. You need to identify where the gaps are on the team including your own skill set. They're the ones that can help you fulfill whatever objectives and goals you have.

There are always going to be bigger and more valuable problems to solve that you might be able to solve and if someone better than you can take over your job, that's a great outcome.

Another area she developed was managing people. Your people have personal and professional problems and there's a lot going on in their lives. As a leader, you want to take into consideration their whole world, not just their work world, so that you can really help them be the best version of themselves at work.

When you see potential in somebody but they're not operating at that level, you have to help them and make sure that they're in the right role for them. That's a huge win for them. It's a huge win for you. It's a huge win for the organization.

If you're at an organization that is supporting growth, not just for the people that you're hiring, but also for yourself, take advantage of the people on your team that can do those things better so that it opens up the opportunity for you to focus on other things that maybe you haven't been able to.

Simpplr philosophy

How does Dawn foster her team culture within her organization?

In terms of the growth aspect, it's understanding what her team members are trying to accomplish. She sees where they fit within the organization but it doesn't always align. Some people want to move into a certain position which is not needed at the moment.

This is what Simpplr is trying to have people do by building their leadership skills. They're trying to foster an environment where people feel that it's comfortable and okay to take certain risks.

Having an open-door policy where all the leaders on the team are open to hearing different ideas and give those individuals that aren't formally in a manager position an opportunity to still work cross-functionally.

As a leader, understanding where somebody is in that phase of life is important, because they still have a lot of potentials, and you want to be there to support them. It's recognizing where they are so that you can maximize their experience and their productivity knowing that it might come back to where it was.

Leaders have the ability to impact someone else's life. Whether you do that in a positive way or a negative way is up to you.

Dawn's advice to herself

If Dawn could talk to her younger self with everything she knows now, she would tell herself to work on her delegation skills.

To identify and prepare what you're trying to accomplish so that you can involve other people. And that takes planning and preparation. You need to get them involved early to give them the time to finish the tasks.

Planning and preparation is key. It's within your control. It may not seem like it, but it is. It starts with that decision.

Dawn's advice to others

One of the things you need to do if you want to develop your leadership skills is to identify why you want to become a leader.

If you want to get some "people management experience", you can mentor a new person so that you can develop your skill of interacting with people and helping them accomplish their goals.

People management is a key piece to helping build that skill and making sure that you're able to illustrate that you have that skill.

If you really want to be on the leadership path then start asking yourself what are the skills that you're lacking right now that you need to get in order to feel more confident on this path.

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