I remember the first time I had to stand up in front of a large crowd and talk. I was in sixth grade and I had won an award for a speech I wrote about Abraham Lincoln. I was a shy little girl at the time so the thought of standing up in front of my classmates, teachers and parents, and talking into a microphone sent shivers up my spine. Lucky for me, I had the support of my parents and the cheers of friends and classmates that helped me get through it. Imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t had that support?
Based on Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”, once our basic needs are met (i.e., air, food, water, shelter, security) we feel psychologically safe. But do you know what the next need is? It’s the need to belong. Imagine having no support system, no colleagues that believe in you, no mentors to guide you, no cheerleaders to root you on and no champion to help you rise to the top. That little sixth grader might have crumbled under the pressure, broken down in tears and run off the stage. Well, that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the picture.
Just as we need support when we are young, this need for belonging continues into adulthood. Whether it is in our personal lives or in our careers, we need to feel like part of a team. We need mentors, advocates, cheerleaders and champions. This need for allies spans across gender lines. For women in tech, it is even more critical to have male allies since men are more prevalent in this industry.
How do we make this happen? Step up, have the conversation, speak up and reach out. It is much harder for someone to ask you to be an ally, than for you to take it upon yourself to advocate for others without being asked. Be that person that speaks up when someone is talked over during a meeting. Be the one to congratulate someone after reaching a goal. Salute someone for speaking out and being brave in an intimidating situation. Offer constructive advice and provide your perspective during challenging situations. Encourage someone to speak up and provide their insights and thoughts without criticism. Encouragement, support, and guidance breed confidence and confidence breeds results. We can all do better if we make a conscious effort to lead like an ally.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of KIOXIA America, Inc.