Brittany Benson: Kristin, could you share a little bit about your role at Sage, and how you would describe your leadership style?
Kristin Jeffcoat: Yes, I’ve worked at Sage for eight years, and I lead a global training operation for our Sage Intacct Product. We help our customers, partners, and colleagues thrive with our product by training them how to use Sage Intacct. My leadership style is one that's rooted in collaboration and transparency. I look at myself as a chief visionary officer for my team. My role is to set the vision, determine outcomes for the team, and then communicate on how we're doing against those initiatives. I gather input from key stakeholders and from my team members, as they're closest to the day-to-day of what business decisions need to be made and closest to the problem that they're trying to solve. I remain open to new ideas and experimentation while granting my team the freedom to drive solutions.
Brittany Benson: On that subject of leadership, what are some key traits that you possess or think that others should possess to be a successful leader?
Kristin Jeffcoat: I think to be a very successful leader, you have to determine what things are essential and non-essential for your role. A leader cannot be effective if they're too busy with the day-to-day, don't know how to delegate things, or if they're not able to multiply themselves in others to own initiatives that they're driving. I'm very passionate about responsible delegation. One of my favorite leadership authors, John Maxwell, says, “A leader knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way.” Just throwing something over the fence does not ensure success for anybody. But coaching someone to be successful in owning those initiatives can work well.
I also think you should be a strong communicator. There's no such thing, in my opinion, as over-communicating to your team as a leader. This might look like serving your team members to collect feedback on how you can implement something to make everybody successful. And it’s not enough to just ask for feedback; you have to do something with it so your team trusts you enough to provide feedback in the future.
I'm very passionate about being a servant leader and removing roadblocks for my team. If you look at our org chart, I'm at the bottom and they're all above. They are the ones that are driving the results and collaborating with each other to help us scale globally. Treating them with respect and help holding them up, not pushing down, is something that I've been very passionate about in interacting with my team.
Brittany Benson: You mentioned overcoming obstacles and removing roadblocks. Can you chat a bit about any challenges that you experienced?
Kristin Jeffcoat: My biggest challenge was moving from an individual contributor role amongst my peers on the same team that I'm currently on, to the leader of the team. It was a mental shift that I had to make from being a doer, to being a driver of initiatives, vision, and strategy. As a leader, invest in yourself and take the time to learn because an organisation is only as good as its leader and I want to be the best version of that for my team, so that we can grow together.
As an individual contributor, I was very focused on how I could put a project plan together and execute against it. As a leader, you have to take your hands out of that and enable others, successfully identify their individual strengths and where projects should sit, and how that translates to their career development and growth.
Brittany Benson: How do you make sure that your team is always working from a very customer centric framework?
Kristin Jeffcoat: Start with the customer and what they want, and also identify what do they need to learn successfully? We ask, “How do we get the right content to the right people at the right time? What are customers telling us?” We recently asked customers that are taking a lot of our training classes, “Would you care to be part of a panel or a Q&A session in front of my team?” My goal is to create empathy within my team, by understanding where they're coming from. We're not project or initiative based only – we value constant communication and relationships with our customers.
Brittany Benson: At the end of the day, what type of impact do you hope to have in your role?
Kristin Jeffcoat: Something from one of my favorite personalities, Chris Hogan, said completely changed the way I view leadership and the responsibility that's been entrusted to me. He says, “A good leader can help someone get better at their job, but a great leader helps people get better at their lives.” Many times, we focus on the outcomes or the initiatives and we forget to take a step back and say, “How do I bring a human factor into this? How do I have interactions with people that are outside of work, care for them, and ask about their families?” As a leader, I hope to not only make an impact on my team members' careers, but also provide a space for them to thrive as individuals.
Read the other colleague profiles who are part of Sage’s Women in Technology interview series.