Lots of people think of the number 13 as unlucky, but sometimes, it can be a LUCKY number.
It was for the 13 women at Cisco Japan who were chosen to participate in a program called Project Quantum – a year-long program that would help them take quantum (rapid) leaps and accelerate their leadership development.
The 13 were so inspired by what they experienced during their training that they wanted to pay it forward to other women (and men.) So they decided to put their thoughts on paper – 200+ pages and 5 chapters of them – in a book called Discover the Aspiring Leader In You.
“I’m very fortunate to be a part of the journey with those 13 passionate ladies! They’ve got the most out of the learning opportunities and now they are giving back to the rest of Cisco employees, including males and females! By reading this book, you can join and enjoy the journey together!” says 山中朋子Tomoko Yamanaka, Inclusion & Collaboration Manager.
“I want to create an organization that can continue to create new values where people can shine as much as possible,” says Rutsuko Yoshida, a cross-functional product manager for Cisco who participated in the program “If I could tell what I got through this program, it would be that Cisco is a wonderful company that knows the importance of inclusion in innovation, these women are now my role models, mentors and friends, and that if I want to climb up, I have to challenge myself.”
Here are 13 tips straight from the book and the women that wrote it that you can use to inspire your inner leader.
- Enjoy change. It is important to see change as a friend. Change does not go away. Change is an opportunity to learn new things. Learn to adapt, learn to lead in a new environment. Have fun!“Since the company gives me some authority, I can work in a relaxed manner even when there’s tension.” 吉澤 浩美 Hiromi Yoshizawa, Senior Manager Technical Services
- Make things fun. Work, challenges, new project new tasks, new targets…. It is easy to get overwhelmed, bogged down. So much to do, so little time. We need to remember the fun, the excitement, the joy that comes with the effort on working on ourselves. Be creative: Find ways to bring fun and joy into everything you do!“Always keep passion and motivation for work and enjoy every minute to move forward.” – 上野 由美 Yumi Ueno, Sales Business Development Manager Collaboration Architecture.
- Welcome opportunities. Stand up. Take the challenge. Overcome your fears and hesitations. New opportunities come to you to help you grow and develop. Make the most of it.“You can achieve multiple tasks by not pursuing too much completeness, but rather thinking to avoid jams and work effectively.” 佐藤 菜穂子 Sato, Naoko Echigoya
- Go one more step. Obstacles can appear to block your way to success. Persevere and do not give in. Gather the strength and go one step further. You impose on you your own limitations. You have the power to expand your mind and go the extra mile.“Stepping up is fun! I want to engage myself in anything with a strong passion.” 田名部 朋子 Tomoko Tanabe, Senior Account Manager Public Sector Sales
- Speak up. Whatever the reason, remember that if you do not speak up, you will not be heard. If you do not voice your thoughts, the discussion will be less rich, less diverse, less innovative.“I can discuss a good program or tactic for the organization when doing my work. There is not rigid formality but freedom.” 原田 慶子 Keiko Harada, Marketing Manager Japan Marketing
- Set your goals high. Who knows the extent of your boundless potential? Nobody has the answer to that question. You can stretch and achieve more than you can possibly imagine, if only you take the time to set goals that are inspiring and challenging.“I want to forego easy decisions, and respect the image of myself that I aspire to” –吉田 留津子 Rutsuko Yoshida, cross-functional project manager for Advanced Services.
- Elevate your point of view. Look at the issue from the point of view of your manager, of your manager’s manager. Look at problems thinking a bit higher, a bit broader.“It’s important to think about what the other person really wants by standing in his/her shoes, and produce results.” –千田 恭子 Kyoko Senda, Business Operation Manager APJC Business Partnership
- Have a plan B. Not because you plan to fail or give up, but because a Plan B will give you the freedom and extra peace of mind to know that you will know what to do regardless of what happens.“My work policy is always find the best solution for creating a win-win situation.” 前原 朋実 Tomomi Maehara, Product Manager, Enterprise Networking Division
- Be a skillful communicator. Are you a skillful communicator? If yes, you know that communication is a flow: a flow of words, a flow of meaning and a flow of understanding. And the flow works both ways. Communication is a skill that is ever aware, ever present, always conscious of the other party.“I want to consider things according to someone else’s perspective, such as by understanding the customer’s needs.” –長崎 友美 Yumi Nagasaki, senior account manager, Global Service Provider.
- Have the courage to say no. It could be your boss, your partner, your friend or a project manager… They have an ask from you. They want you to comply, they want you to agree. There are times when YES is indeed the answer to give. But there are times when you need to prioritize and for one reason of another you need to push back, you need to say NO.“In the future, I want to focus on ’Dan sha ri’ (decluttering). Organizing my belongings by thinking about whether I need each object to help me better organize my mind. There are many people who have capacity to take on more, even when they are busy.” 佐藤 麻子 Asako Sato, Program Manager, Service Sales
- Have a mentor. A mentor is like a friend, someone you can trust. A mentor is not necessarily a coach. It is someone you can be open with, someone who has your best interest in mind at all times, and with whom you can share your dreams, aspiration and doubts without any fear of being judged.My personal motto is ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’” 山田 晴香 Haruka Yamada, Product Manager, Technical Services
- Listen to your heart. Yes, planning, thinking and having a schedule are critical part of a framework to be successful. But at the end of the day, remember that they are just tools that are supposed to serve you, not you serve them. So allow time and space for moments of spontaneity. Listen to the voice of your heart if you feel you need to re-prioritize, if you feel you need to adjust course, do so, being true to your own voice.“My personal motto is ‘Ichi-go, ichi-e’ (Meeting only once in a lifetime). I hold respect for each meeting and each moment.” –平田 絵 Kai Hirata, Senior Account Manager Enterprise Sales
- Kill the parrot! We all have a parrot inside our heads. That internal voice that questions and shakes your confidence, that repetitive voice that makes you wonder if you are well-prepared or not. The parrot can be persistent, it can keep on saying things that make you doubt yourself. You know what you know. You have put efforts and energy into what you are doing. Believe in yourself and deliver the best performance you are capable of!“Challenge difficult things as great opportunities.” 田村 亜弓 Ayumi Tamura, Marketing Manager, Japan Marketing.
Cisco is a great place for leaders, current and future. Won’t you join us?