Incredible Women
Mar 29, 2023

Vulnerability, Radical Candor & Other Lessons to Succeed as a Female Leader

Head of Display & Video - Marketing

I joined GetYourGuide in January 2020, where I was recruited to lead the display marketing channels and manage a team. But when the pandemic hit 2 months into my new role, everything changed.

I questioned whether my role in paid marketing was still relevant. How would I secure resources and demonstrate impact if nobody was traveling for the foreseeable future? Suddenly, the initial scope of my role changed and I struggled to demonstrate my full potential. On top of that, I was - and still am - the only female lead in my team of peers. This fueled my imposter syndrome and heightened my anxiety.

It was a difficult situation to lead remotely, but I managed to pull through, and today I take pride in having navigated the pandemic with my team with a lot of grit and resilience. During this time, I learned that radical candor with my manager was essential. Being open and vulnerable about my struggles allowed me to get the proper support and have the right conversations. 

I worked hard on developing stronger adaptability to changing landscapes and pushing through difficult situations with a growth mindset. It’s not about the number of times you fall, it’s about the number of times you get back up as they say… And during that process, I dragged my whole team on the ride.

I also underwent leadership training offered by GetYourGuide, which gave me effective tools to manage difficult conversations like planning for my personal growth, calling out gender bias in the workplace, giving constructive feedback to senior leadership, or even expressing emotions and vulnerability without feeling weak or wrong for feeling them in the first place. 


However, what I am most proud of are the people I worked with, the support system I built, and the relationships I formed. My team and peers play a significant role in shaping my worldview and the engagement we all have towards our mission. 

Through open and transparent communication, I was able to build trust and foster psychological safety in unprecedented times, and this is what ultimately made us succeed together.

The lessons I learned to become a successful leader

As a woman leading a team and working in the tech industry, here are some key lessons I learned that I believe can pave the way to success for any leader in their role:

1. Believe in yourself 

It’s important to believe in yourself and your abilities to reach your goals. As women, we often struggle with imposter syndrome and doubt our own capabilities, but it's important to remind ourselves that we are capable of achieving anything when we set our minds to it. Even when we are the only woman in the room. If in doubt, seek out support from your work cheerleaders.

2. Lead with vulnerability and radical candor

Vulnerability is not a weakness, it’s a strength. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When we’re able to be open and candid with those around us, we can show up as our authentic selves, cultivate empathy, lean into the discomfort of growth, and build connections, courage, and resilience. And ultimately, we are better colleagues and leaders to those around us. 

3. Leverage your unique strengths as super powers

Identify and leverage your unique strengths early on. We all have different talents and abilities that energize us and make us flow. By identifying and focusing on what we're really really good at, we can bring out the best in ourselves and others without it ever feeling like work.

4. Lean into the discomfort of change

Stepping out of your comfort zone will grow you far more than any cozy role you’ll ever be in. You can either choose to embrace the chaos of change, or go against it. But most of the time, you’ll wear yourself out trying to control it.

5. Invest in relationships 

People work with people. Building strong relationships is a vital skill to have as a leader, regardless of people management responsibilities. Building trust fuels effective collaboration and helps achieve shared goals.

Whether with your direct team, colleagues across the company, or external stakeholders, you’ll be far more successful working with people rather than against them.

6. Self-reflect to manifest your ambitions

Self reflection is an important tool for us to understand where we are at and where we want to go next. Specialization vs generalization, individual contribution versus people leadership, skillset I have versus skillset I need.

Planning your 5-10 year plan seems daunting at first, but it will help you manifest your ambitions. And it’s okay (and completely normal) if that direction changes over time!  

7. Be proactive and search for impact

Even when the road to career growth isn’t straightforward, being proactive and taking on new opportunities is key to success. If you see a chance to make a positive impact or learn something new, don't hesitate to speak up, ask questions, and act.

Whether it's suggesting a new idea, voicing your opinion, volunteering for a project, or taking on a new responsibility, all of these things can help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your leadership and growth potential.

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