Honorees Exemplify Touchstones of Leadership

The WICT Network’s Touchstones of Leadership form the foundation for all of our initiatives. Each Touchstone reminds us of key points that guide us along the path of strategic and effective leadership development. During the 2021 Signature • Touchstones Luncheon, held at the Marriott Marquis on October 20, 2021, five women were honored. The WICT Network spoke to each honoree about how they apply the Touchstones of Leadership in their own careers.

Inspire and others will follow.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 20: Noopur Davis speaks onstage at The WICT Network Signature Touchstones Luncheon at Marriott Marquis Hotel on October 20, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for The WICT Network)

“We are all role models, whether we know it or not. We are role models to our younger siblings, and later to our children,” says Noopur Davis, EVP, Chief Information Security and Product Privacy Officer Comcast Corporation and Comcast Cable, and The WICT Network’s Woman of the Year – Operator.

Nancy Daniels, Chief Brand Officer, Discovery & Factual, and Woman of the Year – Programmer, says that it’s all about building trust with the people around you: the people you work for, work with, and who work for you. “I’ve found trust and transparency to be two of the most important qualities when setting an example as a manager and leader. Trusting your team to do their job and that you have their back, never expecting them to do something you wouldn’t do yourself, and always providing context about how and why decisions are made.”

“Ultimately, true leadership comes from a place of vulnerability and self-knowledge,” says Woman to Watch – Programmer, Stephanie Yates, SVP, Research, AMC Networks. “Being vulnerable with your team and honest about what your strengths and weaknesses are ensures that you are creating a team that will deliver success and perform at their highest level.”

Be a catalyst and set the wheels of change in motion.

“As a leader, you are responsible for creating a culture that inspires and enables people to succeed,” says Woman to Watch – Operator, Sharon Peters, SVP, Marketing, Charter Communications.

Leading within a team is one thing Reshma Patil Bijoor, Managing Director, Communications and Media Strategy, Accenture, and Woman to Watch – Technology, most admires, as she tries to “pay it forward” and commit to growing her talent by providing support and connections to help her team flourish.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 20: Reshma Patil Bijoor (L) and Andrew Walker appear onstage at The WICT Network Signature Touchstones Luncheon at Marriott Marquis Hotel on October 20, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for The WICT Network)

“I have found that it’s important to possess a growth mindset – being open to learning and thinking differently. I have adopted a player/coach leadership approach that is oriented towards growth. I find that staying intellectually curious and remaining open to differing perspectives, from senior to junior leaders, results in richer conversations, deeper connections and more innovative ideas,” says Patil Bijoor.

Davis adds that we may be role models to our peers, team members we lead, or to fellow practitioners of our craft throughout our professional lives. “As a senior technical woman leader, I know that I may be a role model – especially to younger technical women. I consider that an honor and a privilege. The biggest challenge is to model self-confidence, but also to be open about situations where you need help,” she says.

Be Fearless and confident in your convictions as you take risks and bring others along.

It’s not uncommon to experience fear at some point in your career, and often times it can take the form of hesitation when an important decision needs to be made. How you handle causes of distress speaks volumes about the leader. Daniels recalls a time when she was hesitant to make a crucial choice and how she overcame it.

“In the beginning of 2018 I was faced with a huge decision. At the time I was the President of TLC, a role I had been in for four and a half years,” explains Daniels. “Three of those TLC years were very difficult, but by the last year and a half of my run we started to have success in a huge way.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 20: Nancy Daniels speaks via video at The WICT Network Signature Touchstones Luncheon at Marriott Marquis Hotel on October 20, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for The WICT Network)

“I spent years building the team and earning their trust; we were just hitting a groove when I was offered a new role as head of Discovery and Science Channels,” says Daniels. “I was absolutely torn when I was offered the Discovery role. On the one hand it was a major promotion, and a huge honor to even be considered for that position, overseeing what had always been considered the crown jewel of the company – the network where it all started. On the other hand, I loved TLC and had worked on Discovery Channel before, and knew how hard it could be to steer that giant ship as, over the years, I’d watched several people I admire take their turn at the helm.”

Ultimately, she decided that “it was better to take the leap and rise to the occasion,” because of this the last three and a half years have been some of the most challenging and rewarding of her career.

Communicate with passion and poise, in writing and in-person. Listen with more than just your ears.

According to Peters, when you understand employees’ strengths, motivators and areas of improvement, you’re able to harness their talents and bolster their skills, and can more effectively help them reach their goals.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 20: Sharon Peters (L) and Jonathan Hargis appear onstage at The WICT Network Signature Touchstones Luncheon at Marriott Marquis Hotel on October 20, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for The WICT Network)

“I’ve learned that personalities are as diverse as people; there is no one size fits all approach to communications. You have to get to know everyone on your team as individuals to find out what resonates with them, and tailor your communications to help bring out their best,” says Peters.

She also notes that communication frequency is key. “It’s a strategic imperative to have regular, direct and honest conversations, both as a team and on an individual basis, to build trust, strengthen relationships and share goals.”

Know yourself and what you stand for and where you are headed.

“I have learned that truly understanding my strengths and weaknesses helps me to build the best possible team – because it helps me identify and fill in my own gaps of knowledge and to build a diverse cohort of collaborators,” says Yates. “The key, for me, is creating a well-rounded team that offers a variety of perspectives and skill sets that are very different and complimentary to my own.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 20: Stephanie Yates (L) and Aisha Thomas-Petit appear onstage at The WICT Network Signature Touchstones Luncheon at Marriott Marquis Hotel on October 20, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for The WICT Network)

Yates notes that surrounding yourself with people who have different strengths and weaknesses fuels creativity, fosters collaboration, and allows everyone to contribute to their best ability. “For example, someone who thrives in the minutiae of details could work well with a more big-picture oriented person to bring a project to the next level,” explains Yates.

Connect to your peers, your industry, and everything around you.

As a leader in this industry, Patil Bajoor says uses three criteria to determine success.

“Firstly, I believe it’s important to be knowledgeable in your role and industry, to demonstrate thought leadership and have a perspective of your own, make your voice heard. Secondly, keeping an eye on results is key,” explains Patil Bijoor. “I don’t only focus on the big milestones, but also on the smaller, yet consistent wins. They quickly add up and demonstrate steady performance and reliability.”

Lastly, she notes that she believes in apprenticeship. “It is not only important to have mentors to help guide you, but also to invest and coach in turn your own counselees and team members. People can tell when you care, and they often feel so much more motivated knowing that you do so.”

“I have been so very fortunate to have worked for and worked with some great leaders, and I have learned from each of them. It’s important to challenge your team because they like to be challenged,” explains Davis. “A clearly defined goal, a hill that you can climb together to achieve that goal, with successes you can celebrate along the way, and failures you can learn from.”

Davis notes that you should clearly define your team’s purpose. “We all want to do meaningful work. Comcast Cybersecurity’s mission is ‘We protect the incredible technology and platforms that connect people to the moments that matter’. A clearly defined and motivating purpose is something everyone can get behind.”

The WICT Network gratefully acknowledges the sponsors of the 2021 Signature • Touchstones Luncheon.

For more information about the 2021 Signature • Touchstones Luncheon, click here.