Emerging Leader Spotlight: Sara Ling

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence.

Sara Ling This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Sara Ling, Sr. Manager, Knowledge and Content Management with Veritas.

Favorite leadership quote:

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

–Douglas MacArthur

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?

Be open-minded on your career journey! While I think every professional should have a generalized career path in mind, so you can focus on the most appropriate career development activities, be open minded about the specific journey that you take.

As I reflect on my career (HR Business Partner, to a Technical Support Manager and now a Senior Manager of Knowledge and Content Management) I know I would not have achieved the same level of success if I had been unwilling to consider dissimilar professional opportunities.

In full transparency, there have been overwhelming moments followed by total self-doubt but I had a mentor tell me, “Never doubt yourself if someone else thinks you can do the job.” So if a unique leadership opportunity comes up – that you have never even thought about – be open minded!

Why did you choose your current career path?

See the question above! With that in mind, a year ago the role I was in was going to transition to a different part of the organization and my leadership team asked if I wanted to be part of the transition or if I wanted to stay within the team and take on a new, yet to be determined, role.

As I started my decision-making journey, I needed to weigh the pros and cons a bit differently since I didn’t have job specifics. So I started to focus on what I needed to be positioned for success. I needed a leadership team that set clear expectations and communicated them transparently. In addition to needing the autonomy to execute on our business goals, I needed to know the leadership team was confident that I could come up with a creative approach and accomplish it. As the plan was being executed I needed to know that “air cover” would be provided should I require it. Finally, I needed to know that I would receive genuine and timely feedback.

To put it simply and directly, I chose my current career path because I believe in my leadership team as they genuinely model the values I try to emulate in my personal leadership brand as well!

What key steps did you take to get to the role you are in today?

I built a strong network with a focus on authentic partnership as opposed to a professional network to further my own career. Veritas has an extremely diverse workforce with incredibly talented professionals. The organization values collaboration; so leveraging individuals with different strengths to further a business goal is not only enlightening, from a career development perspective, it also provides a tremendous opportunity to continue to expand my network.

In addition to building a strong network, I try to consistently be a solid communicator. Specifically, I tailor my communication with each person that I work with. This not only includes the verbiage I use, but the way in which I communicate. Phone, email, instant messenger, text message, etc – I happily switch forums to ensure that the message is more easily received. Lastly, I’ve made it a habit to meet communication commitments. Even if I don’t have a full update available, I will reach out on the committed communication date and provide what information I do have along with a future communication date.

Along with being a solid communicator, I try to make myself readily approachable. Not only do I want people to feel comfortable reaching out to me but I think approachability is critical to leadership success. Often other people see areas for improvement or have a brilliant “out of the box” idea but they have to feel confident sharing that. The easiest way to build confidence in them is to be easily approachable when they stop by, call, or email.

Finally, a strong network, solid communication, and approachability will only take you so far – You need to be able to deliver on results. Every leader needs to create a plan for core business success and focus on that journey day in and day out. Results are not achieved overnight; sometimes they are not even achieved on time. But the laser focus allows you to course correct and ensure that key stakeholders are apprised of your progress.

Connect with Sara Ling on LinkedIn.

Angie Klein

As Operations and Marketing Manager, Angie Klein is responsible for maintaining the day to day operations of  Be Leaderly.com. Angie manages all aspects of training program logistics, registrations, SEO, financials,  monthly newsletter, social media engagement and customer service.

Follow @kleina2012 on Twitter.

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