Leadership Blog #3: Recognition and Resilience

With Rola Dagher at Collision Conference 2019

Know your facts… Don’t make assumptions. Follow through with your commitments. Be impeccable with your words.

I had the pleasure of attending Rola Dagher’s Female Leadership in the Digital Age workshop at the Collision Conference and she shared some insights about resilience and recognition in the workplace.

Despite being turned down for a Cisco Systems sales position earlier on in her career, Rola Dagher ended up as the President. After 25 interviews for her position, she realized that being a leader is not a position, it is an action. At one point in her career, Rola had to lead 180 engineers (all male) and she emphasizes how important it is to filter your words until you can assess the audiences that you’re speaking to. You can’t be too candid if people don’t know you well enough.

The difference between mentorship and sponsorship

Mentors kick your ass and have the toughest conversations with you. Good mentors never allow you to be comfortable because being good is never good enough and is far from the greatness and excellence that you could be. Look for mentors who are smart and completely different from you and can challenge you to think disruptively.

Sponsors know your abilities and accomplishments very well and can open doors for you to advance in your career. You’re promoted by the value that you bring and the impact that you make, so it is important to manage your self doubts and be yourself because everyone else is already taken. It’s also important to realize that, once you get to a point where you feel comfortable, you’re in the wrong room and it’s time to find a new opportunity.

Learn it. Earn it. Return it.

Leaders realize that they can fail on their own, but will win together. Leadership is about how many more leaders you develop, not how many followers you have. Rola echoes the quote above and suggests that you learn what it takes to succeed, earn recognition for your results, and pay it forward by promoting others. As the millennial workforce grows, it is also your responsibility to open up a line of communication with them. Odds are that your employees are sharing their perspectives with their direct managers, but their thoughts aren’t fed up to upper management.


I’d like to thank Rola for one of the most inspiring talks I’ve attended so far. This blog can’t match up to the real thing, but I will leave you all with 5 key takeaways:

  1. Be resilient…you don’t know how strong you are until it’s the only choice you have.
  2. Identify what your superpower is (the best skill that you have that will differentiate you from everyone else).
  3. No matter what team you’re on, you’re doing sales.
  4. Beyond IQ and EQ, build your AQ (adaptability).
  5. There’s a big difference between passion and execution.

Thank you for reading my third Leadership Blog. Stay tuned for my next one featuring Richard Koh, Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft Singapore!

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