In advance of the June 21st live-stream of Ellevate Networks’ Mobilizing the Power of Women Summit, I got the opportunity to interview Neha Gandhi, the COO and Editor in Chief of Girlboss. I was extremely excited to do this interview as I’m a big fan of the Girlboss brand. We talked authentic leadership and Money!
In a Girlboss Interview with Jerico Mandybur, in 2017, you talked about how nobody ever told you that it was okay to nurture your more traditionally “female” traits as you advanced.
In growing Refinery 29 from a small start up to one of the most powerful digital destinations for women, and now doing a similar thing with Girlboss, how did/do your more traditional “female” traits help the business?
Not all leaders are alike. Great leaders embrace their own superpowers and what they are good at. Being a great leader is about being authentically yourself, that’s what will help you empathize with others and them you. When you are authentic it acts as a guide and allows you to lead with your own personal vision.
Great leaders, above all else, listen. They are also able to influence and persuade by hearing others, capturing data, synthesizing information, having clarity of thought and not having knee jerk reactions, or waffling. It’s important to lead from a place of strength that’s rooted in fact.
I’ve learned that something that’s key to my leadership style, which is traditionally thought of as a “female” trait, is that I really care about people.
This can manifest itself as people pleasing, if you are not clear on why you are doing something.
I want to lead teams that do things because they want me to be proud of them, not because they are afraid. This has lead me to lean in to the most nurturing and mothering part of myself, which enables my team to deliver better results. Often times, when you exhibit this type of behaviour, it can be questioned as being too nurturing; but, I want to be there for my teams – to listen and help them problem solve and trouble shoot, to inspire them to do the best work they can, and for them to know that someone understands them. This is my authentic leadership style.
Why is it important for Girlboss to talk about money? What are the biggest money issues you come across and how do those issues impact Girlbosses in their daily lives at work or the businesses they themselves run?
It’s a reality that money does equate to power. It equates to bargaining power, or the power to walk away from a less than desirable situation. If you don’t have money, you are beholden to a boss, a partner, a customer…. Money provides a level of independence and ,when set aside for an emergency, provides a level of confidence.
It’s essential to talk about money that’s why Girlboss provides lots of resources and talks about money all day every day.
If we approach money as a taboo or shameful topic, then, we’re already asking women to start at a place of disadvantage. When community groups are transparent about things like salary and share and collaborate we arm ourselves with the information we need to ask.
In your opinion, how can businesses create a space or start conversations that enable women to talk about what they need and deserve?
What we do at Girlboss, for our readers, is build real communities whose conversations are rooted in trust. We make content that is fact checked and we hold ourselves to a high level of excellence. It’s all about earning our community.
What we do, in terms of our workspace, is create safe spaces, where women feel like they can share everything, without judgement. This isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be debate, we foster a culture of debate, not personal attack, and this can be a really hard thing to do.
We want to connect women with all resources, not just us, but, other women. It’s important to have women connecting with each other to talk about what matters to them.
We’re currently in the process of building a new digital community where women can thrive. Check it out and request to be invited.
In your experience, with the money side of the businesses you’ve been a part of (dealing with budgets/resource allocation), what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned? How can businesses use their resources to create the right culture for an equitable playing field?
The biggest lessons learned:
- The idea of asking for as much as you can, to do what you need, including a cushion for the unforeseen things that will always happen and then not spending it all
- Think about the business as if it’s your own, if you’re an entrepreneur it will be your own. Invest in those things that will have the most significant impact on your business and do proper cost/benefit analysis
- Build, track, and perpetually re-consider your budget every week/month for strategic fit
- Create a culture of mindful spending
How businesses can use their resources to create the right culture for an equitable playing field:
- Investing in things like paternity leave and care leave that create more equitable experiences
- Hiring coaches and leadership trainers – leaders are most effective when they are perpetually learning and keep advancing. No one goes into a management role knowing what to do, they need to learn, so it’s important to give people the skills they need to do and be their best
- The things they reward – reward things that are most valuable to your business, things that are important to tangible business outcomes