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Women Leaders Leave Their Mark

IAOP Members Share Their Views About Female Supervisors


Great leaders stay with us long after we’ve gone onto new jobs or different careers. Like good teachers in school or professors that leave a lasting impression, the qualities and examples they demonstrate meld and shape us. The best ones make us better.

Often these outstanding leaders are women who inspire and influence male employees or colleagues.

Through its active and growing Women Empowerment, Leadership & Diversity Chapter, IAOP is raising awareness and promoting discussion about how women and diverse employees in outsourcing leadership roles create stronger, more dynamic organizations and relationships.

PULSE spoke with IAOP members Lawrence Kane, COP-GOV, Senior Leader, Strategic Sourcing Functional Excellence at Boeing SIG and Umapathy Viswanathan (Uma), Director, EIT Strategic Supplier Management, BlueCross BlueShield Association about their views on female supervisors who have positively impacted them.

One of the best bosses Kane said he ever had is a woman (Susan). Now retired, her mentorship helped him become a better leader and manager, and even inspired him to write a book on leadership.

“Susan is brilliant at identifying talent, aligning people with work that best matches their strengths, and providing guide rails rather than guardrails so that the team can determine their own best way(s) of getting things done,” he says. “She sets clear and compelling goals, acquires necessary resources, and breaks down barriers so that the team can focus their energy on accomplishing value-added work rather than on working the system.”

Kane learned from her how to build teams whose combined capabilities exceed each individual’s personal contributions which he learned by seeing her leverage diversity of background, experience, and brain chemistry/type (using such assessments as Myers-Briggs, Insights Color Wheel).

“I’ve always recognized the value of diversity, yet didn’t know how to leverage it most effectively until I saw her example,” he says. “Today I emulate her methods to help my team avoid groupthink and make sound decisions.”

In outsourcing relationships, women leaders can play critical roles. In one example, Susan led Kane’s team on a high-dollar, high-risk outsourcing project that moved work from inside the company to an external supplier.

“Clearly all such projects require exceptional leadership, communication, and diplomacy to implement successfully,” Kane says. “She inspired confidence in the process and team which improved stakeholder cooperation, buy-in, and improved outcome of the projects. It would have been significantly more challenging without her leadership.”

Viswanathan said he’s worked with several women leaders who inspired him in different ways with his career.

The qualities they possess aren’t influenced by gender whatsoever and are traits he looks to model. These include demonstrating confidence, consistently providing the vision, removing roadblocks, meticulously planning for execution, leading by example and staying away from politics. He also found women supervisors to be sincere, empathetic and open to listening.

One of the lessons he learned from a female supervisor is the importance of data to drive decisions and the need to always be prepared for discussions to lead to formidable next steps.

“I also learned it’s OK to call a spade a spade,” he shared. “It’s good to be upfront and provide candid feedback. You also need to build strong partnerships across the organization to be considered a strong proponent for desired change.”

Another takeaway from an inspiring female supervisor: When looking to advance, be sure to show repeated success stories and execute in a role above your position grade to be realized for leadership positions.

Viswanathan saw an outsourcing leader demonstrate her ability to thoroughly understand complex outsourcing contracts, hold vendors accountable, and take risks by embarking on an RFP when the existing vendor was not aligned to the requirements in a previously negotiated contract.

“Her ability to convince executive leadership on her proposed strategy to consolidate vendors and go through the implementation exercise was much appreciated,” he says. “This resulted in better savings and protections to the organization.”

PULSE wants to hear your viewpoints on women in outsourcing leadership. To contribute to our ongoing coverage, email us at pulse@iaop.org.



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