How To Create The Workplace You Want

As employees, our day-to-day experiences profoundly impact our ability to be our best selves at work. Big and small decisions made by leaders shape culture, which in turn influences the way employees show up, engage and interact. Yet there are also many things that each of us can do—regardless of gender, age, title, or level—to help create the workplaces we want to see.  Leaders at The FQ Lounge, Home of Equality @ X4 discuss what leadership means today, truth telling, how to raise your visibility, and more.

Ann Rosenberg, SAP Next Gen; Jennifer Morgan, SAP; Ryan Smith, Qualtrics at The FQ @ X4

Ann Rosenberg, SAP Next Gen; Jennifer Morgan, SAP; Ryan Smith, Qualtrics at The FQ Lounge @ X4

On being your complete, honest, authentic self…
“The more you can share your own experiences and your own journey, the more you can lead in your own way. [Doing so will also] give others the comfort to be who they are and create their own [leadership] style.”
~Jennifer Morgan, President, Americas & Asia Pacific Japan, Executive Board Member, SAP
On growing your talent and measuring progress…
“When we think about growing our talent—and about gender and equality—we have to ask, ‘What will this look like at the end of the year? How do we know if we did good or bad?’ It is a thousand little decisions you make along the way, and you have to be okay with it.”
~Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics
On what it takes to be a good leader today…
“Leadership doesn’t mean you have a [big] title with a bunch of people reporting to you—it could be that—but it could be that you have an incredible job and opportunity and you want to lead in whatever you’re doing…There is one thing that you can’t manufacture, and that is time and experience.”
~Jennifer Morgan, SAP
On knowing what the story is you want to tell…
“One of my legacies is to be able to tell the story…If you know what story you want to tell, when the decision comes up, you’ll see it. You have to know what you’re aiming for.”
Ryan Smith, Qualitrics
On moving more women into leadership…
“There are a lot of women coming into companies now, and we can’t wait five or six years to put them in higher roles, because they will leave before that time…You have to ask for what you want, and leaders have to take chances on people who are ready enough…We need to make the right moves. There are a lot of women who are really talented and deserve to be on a bigger stage.”
~Jennifer Morgan, SAP
On pushing for change and not being afraid to fail…
“My brother and I tried to launch a new paternity policy at Qualtrics, and it cost $2 million. We rolled it out, it was a disaster. We polled a group of working mothers about what didn’t work, and it turns out…each one had a different situation. It’s not one-size fits all. How do we solve this? We decided to create leave like insurance, with high and low premiums, so they can choose the path that works for their unique situation. Now they go into [leave] thinking about how they are going to re-enter, and we have seen a massive shift.”
Ryan Smith, Qualitrics
On feedback and truth telling…
“As leaders, women have to be radically honest in terms of giving other women feedback. It can be hard because it hurts…It’s personal to have someone tell you that, say, how you talk is a little annoying…She could have the biggest brain and the best work ethic, but that one small [thing] could rule her out, because you don’t want to [say something and ]hurt her feelings. It’s a tiny tweak that could catapult her career. It’s harder for men to give women that type of feedback, so women must give each other feedback. The best gift you can give somebody is the truth.”
~Jennifer Morgan, SAP
On asking for the big assignments…
“If someone believes they aren’t getting the big assignments, I would want someone to say, “I want the hard stuff!” I wish I had these conversations earlier, where I could say, “Do you want the hard stuff? Because I’m looking to bet on somebody!” You have to somehow communicate, ‘I’m all in. I’m ready to go. Load me up.’ Just try it and have the conversation.”
Ryan Smith, Qualtrics
On influencing perceptions…
“Women tend to take on a lot of things that tend to be operational and administrative, just because we’re good at it and can do it faster. [If you’re asked to do an admin task], figure out how you can put a different perspective on it, or how it can be done better or different. All of a sudden, people see you in a new light. It works! My first job was literally taking sketches someone gave me and putting it into PowerPoint. After being annoyed, I said, ‘I’m going to make this the best damn PowerPoint.’ A lot of those experiences will make you who you are, and you’ll remember how you felt and be a better leader because of it. So take every experience, even the shitty ones, and make something good out of it.
~Jennifer Morgan, SAP
For more on how to rise up, check out:
Female Tech Leaders on How To Create Inclusive Cultures
The Shine Factor: Female Leaders on Helping Women Rise
7 Things No One Tells You About Mentorship