The Best Leadership Advice I Never Received


Meaghan Thatcher

At the start of my career, there were not a lot of women in sales. As an individual contributor, I never felt particularly valued or appreciated by the leaders I had. So, I decided early on that I would be the kind of leader I always wished I had.Once I was in a leadership role, a lot of people began asking me what the best advice I ever received was. Aside from “Don’t spend your commission check,” I never received advice that stood out. Instead, I started sharing what I wished people had told me.

How to help your team grow in their careers

When I made the switch to just focus on the BDR organization, I quickly realized that many of my team members fell into one of two categories. They were either just starting out in their careers, or were making a big career change. They didn’t know what they didn’t know and they didn’t know where to start. This rings particularly true for professional development.My favorite piece of advice to share is to invest in yourself. It’s something that I use to inspire and encourage the growth of my direct reports, and to help other managers do the same.If you make it a habit early on in your career to reserve even 1-2 hours a week to read a professional development book, do a LinkedIn learning, take a class, etc, it can make a huge difference. A learning and growth mindset is something that you can take with you throughout your entire career.

Start your own professional development database

Professional development comes in so many different forms. Even those in leadership can be overwhelmed trying to keep up with different resources to share. Starting your own database of resources is a great place to begin, both for your own development and your direct reports.I used Google sheets to compile one for my team at GitLab. It includes a running list of different pieces of training I had done or heard about so that people would have a starting point. I also listed out sales books, podcasts, conferences, etc. to cater to various learning styles and preferences. As I receive new recommendations or learn about new resources, they get added to the sheet.

Create professional development plans that inspire and encourage

Professional development and growth plans should feel actionable and attainable. When I start to talk with team members about investing in themselves, I start by sharing the resources I’ve compiled. This takes the pressure off of finding their own resources so they can really focus on the growth aspect.Here’s what I recommend to fellow managers:

  • Ask what they are interested in. Where do they want to go? What gets them excited?
  • Start a document based on their answers. Add resource suggestions and track their progress.
  • Build out a plan to help them accomplish their goals.
  • Help them decide where to start. This is often the hardest step! Talk through where they can go and what their options are so they aren’t starting from scratch.
  • Be their accountability partner. Check in on their progress. If they are stuck or feeling unmotivated, ask where you can help or provide additional resources.

Investing in yourself is a crucial part of career growth. On an individual level, make it a habit to set aside time to work toward your professional development goals each week. As a leader, you can help your team by providing guidance and acting as an accountability partner. With the right resources and a plan in place, you can create a work environment that encourages growth and celebrates success.Want to learn more? Stream our recent WISE virtual panel featuring Meaghan here.