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#51 Strategies for Success for Women in Leadership with Marie Moynihan
The 360 Leadhership Podcast, Episode 51, 14 December 2022 by Lucy Gernon
Would you like to learn how to be more successful in your leadership career?
As this episode airs, it is coming up to the end of the year. This is a time where female leaders are taking inventory on what has worked and not worked in the past year both personally and professionally.
This is a time where all of us start to focus on our goals for 2023. It is important as a leader to look at the areas that need improvement and nail down what you want from your career going forward because without this, you cannot improve.
Did you end up where you wanted to be at the end of 2022? If not, what stood in the way of those goals?
If you are where you want to be – what got you there? Can you apply these strategies to your team to help them excel?
Or maybe there are new boundaries you need to set in the new year in order for YOU to excel?
There’s a myth, especially at the executive level, that you need to be on 24/7. But that’s just setting the culture for the rest of the organisation. Not setting boundaries is a breeding ground for overworking, stress and therefore mistakes.
We all need a bit of help from time to time. Just because you are a successful leader does not mean you have all the answers all the time. But many are too proud to ask anyone else for help in case it makes them look incapable of leading successfully – that, my friend, is a limiting belief. Any good leader or team member worth their salt will be more than happy to help.
Remember – nothing changes unless you do something different, and now is your time to shine.
To help you do this, in episode 51 of The Powerhouse Revolution Podcast, I bring on a very special guest to talk to you all about strategies for success. Marie Moynihan, a Senior Vice President of Global HR services with Dell shares her strategies for success for women in leadership she has learned, taught and applied over the years.
I have also created a 30 day goal planner to accompany this episode to help you set your goals and achieve them. Click here to download now- it’s free!
Get ready to learn practical tips and strategies from an inspiring and motivating HR leader.
Here’s the episode at a glance:
[6:04] The REAL reason why there are more men in leadership
[7:57] How to build your confidence as a female leader to achieve success
[12:41] Why asking for help is a good thing
[23:00] How to manage your thoughts and get out of your own head
[25:56] How to determine your personal brand
[29:47] The best way to give constructive feedback
This episode is jammed packed with pure gold so listen in now!
Remember to scroll back up to the top of the show notes and download your FREE Ultimate 30-Day Goal Planner now! This is the most powerful guide and planner to support you to achieve something amazing in the next 30-days.
Prefer to read?
Hello there, and welcome back to another episode of the powerhouse Revolution podcast. Can you believe it is almost Christmas, I’m sure you are wrapping up for the year right now. And you’re looking forward to logging off for a few days or hopefully even a couple of weeks to spend some time with your loved ones. And you saw so deserve it. Please, please just remember, you’ve worked so, so hard this year, you deserve to switch off and enjoy yourself and celebrate Christmas time if that’s what you do with your family. So because it’s coming up to the end of the year, I know a lot of you are going to be focusing on your goals for 2023. And you are going to be looking at the areas that you need to improve on and what you want from your career. So I wanted to bring on a very special guest to talk to you all about strategies for success. And we are getting into so much goals today. So I’m talking to Mary Moynahan, who is a Senior Vice President of Global HR services with Dell. And Mary is an incredibly vivacious, warm, genuine woman who I know you’re going to learn tons from so I really encourage you to go to the shownotes.
After this to read the transcript, read the notes and to pull out some of the goal that she’s going to be sharing with you today as you prepare for your goal setting next year. So we get into everything from how to ask for help, how to get promoted to an executive level, how to be more successful, we’re talking all about your personal brand. We’re talking all about how to give constructive feedback, how to make it as a woman in leadership and so so much more. So after you listen to this, I have a free resource for you. It is a 30 day goal planner that you can grab in the show notes or where you’re listening to that now. So if you just grab the gold planner, I want you to within 48 hours of listening to this episode, I want you to go to my website, I want you to download the gold planner. And I want you to set some goals for yourself for 2023. Because nothing changes unless you do something different and it is your time. 2023 is going to be your time to shine. So without further ado, I would love to introduce you to my very special guest today. Mary Moynihan, get ready to learn loads, enjoy.
Wonderful Lucy Great to be here lovely to talk to your audience. So I’m just by way of a high level I suppose overview of me. First of all, I’m a cork woman always claim to success here. Even though I live in Wicklow now and have been for about the last 30 years, I’m from a place called mcru and Kent cork, and I studied European studies in UCC and then I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to go and study a post grad in Europe, in Bruges in Belgium. So that was actually a fantastic experience. But I came back to Ireland kind of in the late 80s In a to a pretty depressed place where you couldn’t even buy a cappuccino. And but I was fortunate to get my suppose my foot on the ladder in a job at that time with IBEC which is you know, the employer organization here. And look, that was the launching pad really for me of my career in human resources. At that time, it was very focused on industrial relations. So I was negotiating, you know, on behalf of companies with trade unions representing companies in the labor court and all that. So it was quite a baptism of fire, I would say. And I did that for about six years. And then I thought, You know what, I need a chance to kind of drink my own champagne here and implement some of the things I’m advising companies to do in a company environment. And that’s really I moved to Intel at that stage, spent about eight years with them. Fantastic experience out in leixlip here. You know very much a global company, very focused on direct relationships with team members and stuff. So that was a great X perience for me, and I led HR there for two of the fabrication plants. And then I had a small child, and he was about one at the time, and I had a long commute. So I decided, You know what, I need to find myself something else that’s, you know, closer to home. And also maybe in a more commercial environment that was quite intelligent is a very large manufacturing environment. So that’s when I moved to Dell. And that was 21 years ago, which is a long time. But look, I’ve had many, I suppose changes in role over that time. And that’s really where I would say, I launched my kind of executive career. And it’s been a fantastic journey. And right now what I do is I lead a team of about 800 team members across the world, delivering aid or services to that are common to kind of all team members from onboarding, you know, to payroll, to employee relations, to merger and acquisitions to privacy. So all that kind of Gambit if you like, so great job love us.
Yeah. And like your energy is just infectious. I’m not surprised that you’ve kind of climbed the corporate ladder in the way you have. But I’d love to bring you back to, I suppose, when you you mentioned the 80s and things. So I suppose obviously, you and I both know that there is not as many women in leadership as we would like versus versus the male, the men? And I’m just more curious to understand, like, your thoughts on the reasons
why. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, look, it’s a very complex kind of issue, I think, including, you know, some of the obvious things like, you know, a lot of women do choose at that time, I almost chose to kind of step back from my career. Except that, you know, when I had a small child would my husband, in fact, decided that he would step back from his career instead. And that allowed us to kind of progress as a family unit, we had no support structure, in the Dublin area, both our families were from down the country. So I think there’s that element that a lot of women make these choices, and so they’re just not putting themselves forward as much. That’s one element of it. The second element that, I think is that there is a confidence issue for a lot of women, and I would have personally, you know, suffered from that, too. And, you know, I can tell you stories of kind of how I got over that. But I mean, that’s a definite issue, I see it still I see it every day. And I think we need to constantly encourage people and say, You can do this, like, this is not rocket science, you can absolutely do this. And you can have a life. You know, I love
that you said that, because that’s what that’s what my whole business is all about. I believe that you can have success, I believe you can have work life balance. And I believe you can be happy but you need, you need to be able to focus on yourself and come up with how you want your life to look.
So I’d love you to talk a little bit first, about the the confidence piece, because for me, one thing I had to learn, especially when I started my own business, and I had to go out on my own putting myself all over the place, and I didn’t want to is that confidence comes from taking action. It doesn’t come from sitting there hoping one day you’ll feel confident enough to do whatever it comes from putting yourself out there. I believe in overcoming things that you think you could never overcome. So what would your take be on? If you said you had a story about maybe how you overcame that for yourself? Maybe you could share your little?
Yeah, yeah, great, great point. And I couldn’t agree with you more, by the way, like, you don’t just wake up one morning and say, Hey, I’m confident, you know, it’s, it’s something that’s built bit by bit small step by small step. So the example I was going to give you was, when I joined Dell, initially, I was there as a side HR manager, I was happy in my nappy, thought it was GREAT JOB loved us and was doing well. And then this position came up as an executive role. And it was a European wide business partnering role. And I knew about it, and then I kind of went, you know, was like, first of all, I think this will be just too complicated from a travel point of view, etc, with my son. And secondly, you know, I think at heart, I was like, I’m not really ready for this, right? This is a phrase we use a lot as women, I’m not ready for us, right? And so the general manager for the European business at the time, he happened to be sitting in Ireland sitting in our office, and I had, you know, reasonable degree of interaction with him, although I didn’t support him directly. And he obviously, you know, for whatever reason, saw something in me and he said, So are you going for this role? And I was like, No, I don’t think so. You know, I don’t think it’s the right time. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And he’s like, Oh, that’s interesting. But then why don’t you Why don’t we just have a chat about that. So he said, Have time with me. And he said, Look, he said, You know, first of all I want you to know if your reason for not going for this is because you want to spend more time with your, you know, son, peace. That’s all good. You know, I’ll back off, right. But you know, what I want to do is explore your actual reasons, you know, and let’s make sure they’re based on facts. So, which was like, and I do this now all the time because I found it’s so powerful. And he was like, Okay, let’s let’s look at the travel. How much travel is reasonable? From your perspective? How much can you do? You know, and so I outlined him and then he was like, well, actually, that’s even more than will be required. So let’s debunk that particular myth. Right. There’ll be no issue with the travel, you’ll be well able to do it. It’s not excessive, then he’s like so. And I’m like, Well, I don’t have enough experience. So he’s like, okay, so, you know, he said, Look, here’s what, you know, I am the leader in this role. I know what I want from my HR partner, this is what I want, right? And, you know, you’re telling me, you don’t have enough experience, but like, based on your background, you absolutely do have enough experience? So actually, you know, You’re just afraid of failing? And I’m like, yeah. Just arrived? Yes. So he’s like, Well, listen, you’re not going to fail in this role. He said, You know, first of all, you have the capability, you have the right mindset, you know, you have such a big support network here. You know, like, unless you completely screw up, I am not going to allow you to fail, you know, so. So don’t worry about that. Like, that’s not something that should be holding you back.
So just ask him that. Before I forget, like, I love a lot of the work when I’m working with some of my clients, sometimes I hear things like, you know, they want to do everything themselves. So women, like our executive level have this inbuilt expectation that they I see that they put on themselves, that because they’re at x level, that they should have all the answers and that they can’t ask their boss for support, and that they shouldn’t be looking for support. Whereas I had a client recently, actually, who ended up you know, she was completely burnt out and ended up going at work on burners. But when she actually did her boss was more than happy to step in and support her and was like, Why did you come to me sooner? So can you talk to me a little bit just quickly about that, that women aren’t senior levels around that expectation that they put up? Is that right? Or should they be looking at?
Yeah, great question. So I mean, the first thing I’d say is that many of us who manage to get into these positions, get there because we are kind of ACE doers. And that is what we have been rewarded for in earlier parts of our career of being like, give it to me, I’ll get it done, you can rely on me type of thing, right? And then I think what happens is we have a tendency because of that. And because, you know, with that comes a sense of, I’ll do it really well. I’m a perfectionist, I’ll do it better than anybody else. Right. And then all of a sudden, you get into leadership role, and you actually can’t do it all you know, and what your job is to coach other people on doing it. Well, and it’s a really tough transition, you know, if you are a perfectionist, it’s very, very hard to get to a place where you trust other people to deliver. And you’re okay with them, like not doing it exactly, the way you would do it are as good as for example. And, and you just, you know, so, so that’s the thing, I think, you know, plagues a lot of women that that we, you know, we are those like, cross every T dot every eye, you know, and we’ve been trained like that. And we’ve been rewarded for that in school and in earlier parts of our career, and then we can’t let it go. You know? Yeah. So to your second point, though, I am a huge fan of asking for help. Yeah, huge fan of asking for help. I mean, I’ll give you a great example of that. And it’s a male example, actually. And it was when I was an Intel, there was a guy who we had kind of I had personally taken a risk on because he had no real HR background, but he had a good kind of training background, and I felt he had a really good kind of good judgment, good perspective, you know, balance, I felt he could make us and even though he came in as a kind of a more senior level than we would normally bring people in without the kind of exact experience. So I was sort of invested in making them successful because I felt like I take no risk on him to begin with. But like he came in and I swear to God for the first year and a half he damned me. I was like, Why do I do this? cuz he kept asking me questions like, he kept looking for help looking for support. And you know what I tell you, he turned out to be, you know, one of the best people that ever worked with me. And he moved on to very senior positions elsewhere around the world. So, like, but that was an example. Like, if that was a woman, they probably wouldn’t have asked all those questions. So his, his learning trajectory, just like took off, you know, because he kept looking for help, you know, and he’s like, I don’t know this. So what’s the answer? Like, how would you approach it? And then the next time he didn’t need to ask me that question. He came up with another
one. I think as women that we a lot of a lot of women I would see is that we’re looking for external validation. I think a lot of the time that we’re doing a good job. So I think sometimes people think women think up by if I ask the question, and I’m told to go away, or that I’m too busy, it means that my boss doesn’t like me or thinks I’m not performing. So yes, kind of shift that mindset, what would your advice be?
Like, my advice would be focus always on the outcome, right? What outcome? Am I looking for here? Right? And if by asking this person or that person or digging deeper, or looking around more corners, we get a better outcome, then keep after it, you know, don’t take no for an answer. Just because one person says no, doesn’t mean the next person is gonna say no. So, you know, if you really focus on that, like, what do I need to deliver a great outcome here? I think it helps you to not take these rejections as personal.
Yeah, I loved that. Absolutely, love that. That’s such perfect advice. I’m gonna write that down. That’s gonna be a quote. Yeah, and I think it’s about you know, taking yourself out of it. And yes, and on the business, age or quote that we all know, which is, you can’t take anything personally in business, but unfortunately, a lot of women do. And I love what you just said there. If you do shift your mindset to look at the outcome and the business objective, it takes you out of it completely. And uh, yes, yeah, yeah. Yes. Go farther. Okay, so that’s the other thing I wanted to ask you then is obviously we’ve been talking a lot about this whole I suppose women in leadership and you know, your strategies for I suppose, successful far, but what what would be your three top tips to my listeners who might want to get to a more senior level to get there without burning themselves out?
Yeah, yeah. So I think the first thing and if I, and I suppose I’m reflecting predominantly my own experience, and what I have seen other senior females do kinds of things. So just just to put it in context, but one of the things that I would say is, you know, you really need to kind of engage and get into the ring on things. So what I see a lot in, in corporations now is, people are sitting in meetings, all day long, they’re sitting there with their headsets on or, you know, in a room, or whatever it happens to be, and they’re actually not engaged, you know, there’s 12 People at the meeting, and there’s four people doing all the running, and the other eight are sitting there, you know, half of them are already switched off, they’re on their email, they’re, you know, looking at their Facebook, whatever, right? And, and they’re not actually influencing the outcomes of those meetings, right. So if you want to be efficient, and you want to be impactful, then if you’re in a meeting, get into us, you know, and stay like, I do things, like, for example, I shut off my I am, I shut off my Outlook, a long time, I put on my video, if I’m in a zoom call, because it forces me to engage, you know, it forces me to be seen, I can’t be doing other things. It forces it helps me to listen, and concentrate on what people are saying. And when you’re listening, you’re much better able then to contribute. So it’s not I’m not saying talk for the sake of talking, I’m saying contribute and influence. But if you’re not talking at all at a meeting, then you are not influencing? Yeah. So
just on like, I’m getting visions of always, as you said, there’s 444 People in the meeting that will be local ones. So for the people who are less confident at speaking up in meetings, which is something I’d see a lot when that dynamic is going on. How would you suggest they get involved in the conversation?
Yeah. So I would say, first off, go in with the intention of getting involved in the conversation. All right. And then secondly, like, this is why I find video very helpful. Because it’s easier to jump into a conversation when you can see other people’s faces, you can see who’s about to jump in, you know what I mean? So you much. And obviously, if you’re in a meeting where you’re face to face with people, it’s, you know, you’re watching the dynamic of what’s going on. And then the third thing I would say is like, you know, don’t be afraid, like, just force yourself to get in, you know, and don’t take no for an answer. And if you kind of get in and say, Oh, that’s an interesting point, like, and someone else doubles cross, you go at it again, do not give up.
On the outcome, race, yeah, exactly comes in.
Yeah. And personally, one of the tips I use a lot is, I tried to get in first, you know, someone’s doing a presentation. And it’s an I learned this because I was like, used to be the only one outside of North America. Like, I’d be on the phone, everyone has been in the room. And, you know, like, if you didn’t get in quick, you couldn’t get in at all, because they wouldn’t even hear you trying to get in on on a piece of plastic in the middle of the day, but at least now they could see you. So what like, if you get in quick, first of all, it tends to influence the conversation into the direction you want it to go, you know. And secondly, once you’re in and you’ve heard your voice, it gives you confidence to come in again.
Yeah, absolutely. I love that. I love that. Okay, so you were saying to engage, so I suppose to be successful, you you need to engage, you need to influence be, you know, getting at the meetings, what else? What are the other couple of things. So the other
couple of things would be, I would say, really focus on building relationships and trust, right? Because that is at the core of, of, of influence is if people trust you, and they feel, you know, you have their back kind of thing. And some of the ways I personally tried to do that is first of all, I’m very open and direct with people, like they know where they stand, they know, there’s no hidden agenda, it’s like, what you see is what you get is right, then the other thing is, you know, I am very aware of listening to their perspective, and showing them that I’m listening by being empathetic and saying, I get to look, it’s a really tough situation you’re in. So let’s see how we can help, you know, resolvers, or bring you support or whatever. So giving people that sense of I hear you, I know what you’re going through type of thing. And then actually delivering, you know, is the other big piece of building relationships and trust. So if I say I’m going to do something, by golly, I’m going to do it, you know, and, and if I, if I can’t, for whatever reason, I always go back to the person, you know, before the deadline and say, Hey, listen, here’s what’s going on, here’s what you know, I thought I could deliver by next week. But actually, this this, this, and then you know, people kind of have a much better understanding. So that that whole thing of relationships and trust is fundamental.
And the last point I would say, then, the third one would be all around managing your head, I call us and to manage your head, you know, it to me, this is all about, like, how much your feelings actually are influenced by your thoughts. And so if you can get control of, of how you think, and you can stop yourself from going into a negative thought pattern, then you’re going to feel much better. And that’s going to drive your confidence up. So it’s all a connected circle that starts in my view with your thought process, you know, yeah, so some of the things that I tried to do there is, like, a lot of a lot of how I approach life is tried in business is trying to keep calm, and balanced, right? Because there’s so many difficult decisions are so many people involved, there’s so much emotion, involved in law that these decisions that if you don’t stay calm, you kind of can’t think logically, you know, so so to do that I’m very aware of like, my physical and kind of mental well being so I do a lot of exercise, I know what it takes to keep me centered, you know, and that’s different for everyone. So you have to find that out for yourself, you know, I know it’s for me, it’s sleep, I need at least, you know, seven to eight hours of sleep. And if I don’t get that I can’t think straight. You know, if I don’t have physical exercise, I get very anxious. You know, so just those kinds of things. It’s, as I say, it’s different for everyone, but you need to know, and then you need to draw boundaries around those things. Like, you know, and I’m very cognizant of, I don’t mind how hard I work during the week, but my weekends are very precious to me and I do not want to be working at the weekends. So I’m very aware of like drawing those boundaries. You know, people who work with me know that, like you If they want me at the weekend, they have to WhatsApp me because I’m not checking my emails. Yeah, you know, and they adapt. Like, yeah,
absolutely. I think there’s a myth, especially at executive level that you need to be on 24/7. But that’s just setting the culture for the rest of the organization. So I love that you’re, you’re saying that because if you switch off at the weekend, you give your team permission to switch off? And yeah, yeah, yeah. So that’s, that’s amazing. And the other thing, I would actually talk to you all day, I have so many questions. And the other thing you had said, that really struck me at the events that I saw you speak out was about your personal brand. And you said something like, nobody likes volatility in the corporate world and stuff, you know, you don’t know which bars of you are going to get. And that just really struck a chord with me, because I’ve seen so many volatile leaders, and they’re the kind of people that you go up to when you’re kind of going shit, what mood is she going to be in? Today? I asked her this question.
And talk to me a little bit, first of all about what is a personal brand? And how, how important is it for you to I suppose, portray the brand that you want to portray?
Yeah. So look, I mean, personal brand, in my mind is, you know, it’s, it’s that gut instinct people have when they hear your name. So if I say, you know, do you know, Lucy? And they’re, you know, it’s that, oh, yes, I know, Lucy, or Oh, yeah, I know, Luthy type of thing, right. So it’s that instant feeling you get about someone that in a sense, what their brand in your mind is, right. And it is hugely important, because it’s very, very powerful in it, to me, it’s a really competitive tool that you have in the work environment. So if you have a good brand, then, you know, you are much more liable to have people tap you on the shoulder and say, Hey, listen, we have a role coming up in three months time, is it something you would be interested in, etc. But, you know, to have a good personal brand, you have to first of all be known, right, which means that you can’t just be in your little silo, you know, beavering away, and nobody knows you. Like, that’s not helpful. So you have to be known, you know, in your own, I suppose, fear, but also beyond that. So the bigger your network, the better, right, and then you have to be known for great work, right. So you have to be known as someone who’s differentiated, will really bring value to them, you know, someone they love to have on their team type of thing. So it’s those kind of two, two sides of it, like there’s the known and then known for, I think, that can really help your brand. But a lot of a lot of people aren’t aware of what their personal brand is in a company environment. And there’s only one way to find out. And that’s to go and ask people, you know, find someone that or people that you trust people maybe that are in an area you want to move into, and ask them straight out, like, look, I’m working on my brand. I’m really interested to understand how I’m perceived, both positively or negatively. You know, please be honest with me, it’s in my interest, you know, so you actually go and ask them those kinds of questions. Ask a few people. Because sometimes, like the, the perception of us is different to the perception we have of ourselves. Sometimes it’s better than we perceive ourselves. And sometimes it’s worse. What if you know, you can do something about it?
I love that. I absolutely love that. And I remember when I worked in the corporate world, I asked two people for feedback once on that very thing. I have one person, which was interesting, who I called, was going to give me negative. And she said to me, Oh, my God, you’re the most positive person I know, you get everything done. It was one of my bosses. And I was really taken aback because I was expecting constructive, constructive, but then I asked somebody else who I thought was going to massage my ego. And she said, Well, you know, you’re you do talk a lot in meetings. And I did write, because that was my way of, I think, filling the space, which I know some people like to do fill the space, because if I fill the space, it means they can’t see how incompetent I really am. So I do and that I hear people say that all the time. I think it’s so interesting. It’s also important to ask for that feedback, because you can never improve unless you ask for feedback. So what would be your advice on the feedback piece? Because it’s something so many people are terrified of they don’t like giving feedback. They don’t like asking for feedback. How can we manage that better?
Yeah, well, first off, I would say in the giving of feedback, um, you know, I think you’re absolutely right. Most people hate giving constructive feedback. They like giving positive feedback, right? because they’re afraid of hurting the other person. But in reality, you’re hurting them more by not giving them that constructive feedback. And in many ways, what you’re trying to do is protect yourself from feeling bad about us, right? So I think you just have to change your perspective on it and say, Listen, like, I’m doing this for out of your out of interest of you, you know what I mean? I’m doing it to help you improve. And so I think if you think about it, that way, you’re much more liable to be able to give that kind of feedback. The second thing is, like, personally, I have seen people be devastated by feedback they’ve got like, absolutely ruined their confidence. And that’s, that’s terrible. I mean, nobody wants to be associated with that. And mostly, when you’re giving feedback, like, nobody is all bad, or all good, you know what I mean, there are things that people are really good at. And there are things that are getting in their way. So I think in my view, if you present it in that way that says, Listen, what I see of you is you excel in these areas, but this thing is tripping you up. Like it’s preventing you from you know, doing blah, blah, blah, whatever, right? And, look, I’m on your side here, I want to help you and support you to overcome this thing. And that way, I think the person is much more open to hearing that, you know, your input, versus dismissing it and saying, Oh, I don’t mind her, you know, she who she anyway, like, why would she, you know, kind of thing. So it’s about presenting it in a way that the person can hear what you’re saying, because if they can’t hear it, they’re not going to do anything about us.