Victoria Pelletier is vice-president and Lead Account Partner, Global Business Service, IBM
What are the most common challenges facing leaders in today’s business environment?
Pelletier: Attracting and retaining the right talent is one of the greatest challenges that leaders face today. With an ever-changing business landscape, the war for the right skills; not only for today’s business requirements, but for those of the future are critical; particularly when the shelf life of skills has been drastically reduced through factors such as new technology and automation. Other challenges include developing and fostering diverse and inclusive teams with the right culture to foster innovation and creativity that allow employees to feel like they’re delivering value and purposefully.
What traits do you think are most important for leaders to embody today to inspire their organizations and achieve success?
Pelletier: I live by the philosophy of “doing the right thing” which can often be difficult for many leaders in business environments given the demands of the competition, the market and the shareholders. Doing the right thing means balancing the needs of all the business constituents with a multi-faceted lens; not just one focused on growth and profit, but on building the right culture, developing next generation talent, and delivering value to not only its customers, but to the communities in which they reside, and they serve. The traits I most value and focus on personally, include courage, determination, accountability (my motto is #NoExcuses!) and compassion.
In Unstoppable, you write about the importance of courage. How is this evident in a business environment?
Pelletier: Courage in business is demonstrated in many ways. It includes resisting short-term pressures to champion long- term vision and strategy. It also involves having direct and transparent conversations, often challenging to deliver – radical candor that comes from a place of care and compassion and genuine desire for colleague and organizational success. I have spent much of my career leading business transformation which in and of itself involves significant courage – it has meant spending a significant amount of time living in a state of discomfort to drive the change necessary to succeed.
How has your personal journey of overcoming obstacles and challenges shaped you as a leader?
Pelletier: My early childhood trauma and subsequent obstacles have significantly influenced who I am as an individual and as a leader. They forced me to adopt skills that I believe are critical to successful leadership: self- awareness – in knowledge, reputation and brand; agility – challenge of the status quo, comfort in the discomfort and in continuous learning; communication – being an active and open listener, seeking feedback, communicating my vision and leading with radical candor and with influence – developing my personal brand, building and maintaining trust and leveraging my network effectively.
What does “becoming unstoppable” mean to you?
Pelletier: Being unstoppable has always meant that no obstacle will prevent me from achieving my goals. I am a big believer that where there is conviction, there is capacity – but this doesn’t come easily; it’s a mindset shift. It requires facing your fears, living outside your comfort zone and to accept that it’s okay to fail; we must pick ourselves up and try again until we succeed. Being unstoppable is hard work – it takes dedication, persistence and accountability. It also takes time and intention; I am not generally, very patient, but I am always planning and putting in the hours to achieve – I challenge myself and others to think outside the 9 to 5 and focus on what can be achieved after hours in the 5 to 9. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
Mario Toneguzzi is a business reporter in Calgary.
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