5 Lessons from an EdTech Leader
Whether you are looking to break into the edtech industry or an aspiring leader pivoting to your next adventure, give these 5 lessons a try and begin building a list of your own.
At the start of my career, if someone had offered me a simple list of the top five lessons I would need in order to successfully navigate the education industry in particular, or a professional journey in general, I am not sure I would have been ready to hear them. I needed to create some success and make some mistakes for myself to really understand their value.
I began my professional path as an elementary school teacher and collegiate coach, which ignited my passion for social impact. Since then, I have devoted my career to closing the opportunity gap and creating great outcomes in education through the power of social enterprise and innovation. For more than 25 years, my passion for education and social good has afforded me opportunities to work in publishing, technology, media and e-commerce for K–12 education and home; in public, private and nonprofit sectors all over the world.
In hindsight, my career path turned out to be a natural blend of the things I’m most passionate about, even if it didn’t seem that way at the outset. Navigating this journey, I have learned some key lessons that can help not only women, but all leaders, no matter what stage of their career or life they’re in. And, while I may not have been ready to understand their full value in the early days of my career, they have become central to my philosophy and success as a leader:
- It’s not your job to have every answer. It’s your job to bring the right voices to the table and to make a decision.
- Listen more than you talk (or, if you really enjoy talking, at least listen as much as you talk).
- Being right matters less than what you achieve, and much less than what you help others to achieve. If you want to lead an organization to accomplish great things, don’t spend time being the smartest person in the room or being right in every conversation. Invest your energy in helping those around you collaborate to achieve a goal or create a positive outcome.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have the self-confidence to be humble, to hear others out, to recognize and admit your own mistakes so you can learn from them. This improves your decision-making and shows others how to do the same.
- Some of the most powerful learning comes from mistakes. When you make them, acknowledge them. It’s really tough to learn from a mistake if you don’t look it squarely in the eye, admit you made it and commit to doing better. Then move on.
More important than remembering the details of every mistake you make, is to learn from each of them and use the lesson you learn. If you turn each mistake into a learning experience, then each one becomes an investment in your professional development. (It’s safe to say I’m heavily invested.) Some of the most powerful learning comes from retrospection after both successes and failures. You need to develop a broad experience with both to understand and embrace real leadership and be equipped to drive innovation.
Whether you are looking to break into the edtech industry or an aspiring leader pivoting to your next adventure, give some of these road-tested lessons a try and begin building a list of your own. Developing a strong sense of the values and principles you hold yourself accountable to is an important part of building your leadership capabilities.
To read more about my career path and lessons learned along the way, check out my full interview in Authority Magazine.