Eclectic. That’s the word that Michelle King uses to describe the career journey that eventually led her into leadership.

Amid the wide variety of roles, teams and companies she’s worked in, some key principles have always kept her grounded throughout her windy career path. “[I believe that] organizations should be focused on helping people succeed,” she shared during our conversation. With a knack for problem solving, affinity for helping people, and formal education in organizational leadership and technology, Michelle always found herself gravitating to the training and development space. Presently, she is interested in how to best incorporate the people aspect into technology.

Championing enterprise mindfulness

In her current role as a Senior Director of Enablement at SAPMichelle leads a team of 7 enablement managers, 3 of which are remote. She is also an active proponent of corporate mindfulness and is a Mindfulness Instructor for SAP employees worldwide. 

How would you describe your leadership philosophy? 

  • Lift as you climb. If you are a people manager, your number one job is to help your people be as successful as possible, allowing them to grow and develop. 
  • Lead by example, not by directive. The top down approach rarely works these days. Set an example for your team and support them along the way. 
  • Hire people that will add to the team in a key way. Look for something a bit different such as unique skillsets and interests. A growth mindset is also essential – you want people on your team that will be up for solving the challenges that will surely arise. 

What would you say are the key ingredients for developing strong working relationships? 

  • Empathy. Always try to put yourself in other people’s shoes and learn about where they are coming from. 
  • Staying Curious. There’s so much that you can learn from the people that you work with if you’re curious. Go beyond assumptions and in tough situations, try to find out what’s really going on.  
  • Looking for ways to collaborate. Trying to find a win-win situation rather than pushing your individual agenda will take you much further. 

Most important lesson(s) you’ve learned in leadership? 

  • Perception may not always be true, but it’s important information. Know that you’re  responsible for the perception of you and your reputation. If you’re not careful, how people perceive you can become your reputation. Asking your team to do a 360 review of your leadership qualities is a useful tool to learn about how you are perceived. 
  • Be open to feedback. Seek it and request it. Create a safe space with your team to share feedback both ways and use it to grow. 
  • Treat employees like your peers rather than subordinates. Show them your full support and always ask: ‘how can I help’? 

Top advice for managers? 

  • Your first job is your people. Sit down with each of the individuals on your team and really get to know them. Find out where they’re at. Open the door wide. Get to know who they are, what do they like to do etc. 

Experience using Dabra 

Prior to using DabraMichelle was using OneNote for meeting notes and found that they ended up all over the place and became tricky to navigate through. She sees Dabra as an intuitive collaboration tool that also provides valuable personality insights on the individual you’re working with. It was helped her team effectively communicate on 1:1s and hone in on the most important things to focus on in their time together.  

Enjoyed this article? Check out other interviews in the Leadership 1:1 series:

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