I have never thought of myself as a woman in gaming—only as someone who has been lucky enough to have a career that I have loved that has spanned the globe in an exciting, fun and challenging industry.
My parents instilled in me from a young age to find a career that I loved, because you spend most of your life working. I was also fortunate to have parents that supported my dreams in any way that they could. My family is full of strong, successful women. I grew up believing that I could do or be anything that I wanted. As I got older, I realized that it was women like my mother and grandmothers that gave me the freedom to go, do and be. They were the true trailblazers and heroes. Also, being born into the right family at the right time in history has given me opportunities that my mother or grandmothers simply did not have.
Looking back and reflecting over a career is something that I haven’t done a lot of. I’m not a very reflective person, but in thinking about this article and what value, wisdom or inspiration I could pass on to an up-and-coming group of young women in gaming, I thought a bit a of reflection was a good thing. So what makes a great and successful leader?
Having the Right (Positive) Attitude is Key
Being positive even in the face of adversity is critical. It doesn’t mean that you are not candid and frank, but we are all in the problem-solving business, so tackling problems in a positive way will always have a better outcome. It will also create an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork.
When opportunity presents, you must assess it objectively and understand what will happen based on the decision you make. Opportunity often comes at inconvenient times, but whether it is a new job offer, the chance to move to a new country or a promotion, the ability to understand an opportunity and make the best decision is a skill that must be cultivated.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the building of the Macau casino market from 2006 to 2012. I use the word “luck” on purpose, because it was exposure to the Chinese culture that really helped me to understand why luck is such an important part of a person’s success. The Chinese believe that luck + hard work = success. On reflection I realize that I have been very lucky throughout my life when I have worked incredibly hard and surrounded myself with smart, demanding and talented people.
There is no way around it. Hard work is a must. Going that extra mile every time will set you apart from other people. It does pay.
Listen, Listen, Listen
Listening is one of the most vital skills that anyone can possess. Listening is an essential part of communication, and good listeners will understand people better. It is much harder to listen than talk.
There is no time in life when we can’t learn. Keeping educated about your business, your customers, technology, human resources and what is going on in the world will make you a more well-rounded person.
Being Flexible or Unwavering When Necessary
Knowing when to be flexible or unwavering in a leadership position is another skill set that gets better with understanding and practice. Flexibility to change direction quickly because the business requires it, not being afraid to say I don’t understand, please help me understand, or being completely unwavering when you know it is absolutely the right course of action will build support and respect from employees.
You must be able to empathize with people. Everyone has something going on in their life, and keeping attuned to people and their lives will help you build strong teams and understand what motivates them. You can’t fake empathy. We all know people in our careers that truly display empathy and those who don’t. Once you can respect and understand people’s lives, you can achieve a better relationship with your employees.
Clear Thoughts and Goals
Understanding and communicating what you want to achieve will allow a team to focus and deliver.
Consistent and Timely Decision-Making
Following a consistent process to make a decision will instill fairness across your team. Decisions will not always be agreed to by everyone, but if the same consistent process to make a decision is followed, it will be respected. Timely decision-making when required is another characteristic that will set you apart. Sharing your decision-making approach with your team will help with understanding and support.
Surrounding Yourself With People Who Are Smarter Than You
I started my career in sales with IBM, one of the greatest companies in the world. Their commitment to hiring the brightest and best employees has built a company that has been around for over 100 years that continues to change, grow and innovate. IBM hires the smartest people from all disciplines, which creates an energy and level of thought that is hard to match. Having an organization that is top-heavy in “A” players will make you a better company. Mediocrity does not build great companies, and it does not inspire people to do great things.
Belief In Self
You must back yourself. You must believe that you can make things happen. You must have the confidence to go against the grain if you know that the current direction is incorrect. You must believe in yourself.
To our future women-in-gaming leaders—go for it! There has never been a better time in gaming history to seize your place. Good luck and best wishes.