F = for women on the rise

Leadership Lessons from Kirstine Stewart


Posted on April 19 2018

We are so pleased to kick off the first in a series of profile pieces on women in STEM in collaboration with Rocket Women, starting with the amazing Kirstine StewartPresident and CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) of TribalScale, author of bestselling Our Turn, and ex Founding Head of Twitter Canada and VP of Media, Twitter North America. (This post first appeared here.)

“You have to have confidence in yourself before you can have trust in others.”

The following leadership advice was shared during her talk at the Technology Leadership Conference held in Waterloo, Canada back in 2014 but are timeless  lessons we can all use in our work life today.

The former Executive Director of Programming at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation discussed her rise from Girl Friday at a local television production company, graduating during a downturn in the publishing industry, to becoming President of Distribution only seven years later. She went on to take on the role of Director of Programming at CBC Television in 2006 where she dealt with 5,000 employees.

"You don’t get a promotion for keeping your head down."

Kirstine is a graduate of the Global Leadership in the 21st Century program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, selected to advise the World Economic Forum.

During her keynote address Kirstine listed her four principles of leadership:

1) Set the vision

2) Build tools that lead way for team to success

3) Set goals and expectations

4) Get out of the way

She added that a leader should cultivate a sense of innovation, have trust in and empower their team to make the right decision. A leader “gets out of the way” to allow their team to succeed however will be there on a check-in basis to ensure that they feel supported. Kirstine has a proven career of successful leadership and encourages women to study STEM. With only 16% of women in a director position at Canadian tech companies, Kirstine was asked how to increase the numbers of women in the tech industry.  She depicted an inherent issue present in female career advancement; women have historically done well at school with higher numbers studying technology related subjects, however there is a shift in the business world. Kirstine pointed out that “You don’t get a promotion from keeping your head down”.

Women are finding it difficult to learn to add value and transition into the business world. With values at school and at work differing, she stated that women will need to bring attention to themselves and that people are only “as successful as the right decisions you make”. The “ones who come up with the right answers rather than the ones who speak a lot” will be valued. Kirstine also mentioned that women wait to be asked the question, rather than giving the answers before they are asked. And she believes this proactive approach would instead help to make women’s voices count more-so in the workplace.

"Leaning in doesn’t matter as much as what you do when you lean in."

Kirstine also discussed that rather than traditional masculine leadership traits in business being valued, the values of business and leadership have changed. Attributes such as empathy and multi-tasking, typically female, are now increasingly valued. She stated that “it takes all to lead” and that “gender isn’t as important as the attributes people have”. “If we need to be so outwardly focused, we’ll need a different style of leadership.”

Kirstine ended her session with “Leaning in doesn’t matter as much as what you do when you lean in”. You can read more of Kirstine's advice in her book Our Turn: Time For A New Kind Of Leader which is out on Amazon now.


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