Saturday Mornings with Women Leaders

Milissa Bedell – United States

Milissa Bedell of Western Digital
(Milissa Bedell, Director, Global Giving & Doing, Photo by Renee Bowen)

Define a great leader – what are some traits you think great leaders possess?

I believe the most important trait of a great leader is authenticity.
When a leader is authentic that leads to consistency. And when a leader is
consistent, that allows trust to build within their organization. With a
culture of trust, teams can thrive.

Great leaders lead, but don’t always expect followers. I believe the
best of leaders embrace diverse ideas and perspectives and recognize the value
of opinions that are different from their own. Ultimately, it is a leader’s
role to make decisions, but great is the leader that can integrate ideas
brought forth by others as he or she forges the best path forward.

Great leaders allow their people to shine. I am certain everyone reading
this has worked in the unfortunate presence of a leader that overshadows the
achievements of his or her team and felt the loss of morale it causes. Great
leaders are secure enough to give credit where credit is due. 

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

There is a sign hanging in my office that says “Better an Oops Than a
What If.” Fear of failure can be tremendously stagnating, so trust yourself to
take smart risks! You are guaranteed to make mistakes along the way, but there
are lessons learned with each one. And, ultimately, your innovative idea or
unique way of looking at a problem will allow you to shine. You just need to be
willing to share it!

Know that a step sideways, or even a step that feels backward, will often lead to more growth than staying the course. Gaining diverse experiences will open doors you likely never imagined.

Define your own success and take responsibility for achieving it. Only
you know what success looks like for you, and it may not be what your boss,
co-workers or even your significant other thinks it is. Identify the milestones
you need to achieve your definition of success, and then move towards it. And,
when you discover roadblocks (because you will!), know that only you can make
the choices required to remove them.

How did you differentiate yourself to get where you are in your career?

I have been fortunate to have had a lot of very different opportunities
as I’ve built my career. As those opportunities built one upon the next, there
are four things I’ve always strived to be:

  • Passionate. I really enjoy my work, and I am not afraid to let that be noticed. 
  • Open-minded. I love seeking and incorporating different ways of thinking and problem-solving.
  • Self-aware. I work hard to know my strengths and to acknowledge the areas where I should continue to grow.
  • Hardworking. It sounds so simple. But sometimes it’s hard to work when the work is hard.  That’s when I feel most energized.

This isn’t a list of things I’ve done, but rather who I’ve tried to be.
I think that’s an important point. For me, it’s about who you are rather than
what you’ve done that makes people remember you and builds confidence in what
you can achieve.

Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.?

I wish I had a really cool answer to this question like you’ll find me at the art studio or training for my next marathon. But in my quest for authenticity, the reality is I am probably catching up on laundry, working on a project around my house or getting the grocery shopping done. Some might see these as mundane chores, but in all honesty, I enjoy taking care of my home and family just as much as I enjoy having a career, so spending time doing these things brings a lot of balance to my life.

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