Michelle Peluso on What Makes Great Leaders, Disruptors
Michelle Peluso, chief marketing officer of IBM, recently spoke at the IMPACT 2016 Capital Conference in Philadelphia. Peluso talked about how she's always been surrounded by disruption throughout her career at companies like Site59, Travelocity, Citi and Gilt.com.
“There’s no path to success that isn’t built like a roller coaster,” Peluso explained to the crowd full of private equity, venture capital and entrepreneurial professionals.
Retail hasn't been immune to disruption, with startups like Shoes of Prey, Casper and Touch of Modern opening up new possibilities for retailers and changing the way people think about the industry. But what makes a "good" disruptor?
Throughout Peluso’s career, she has been a disruptor — as well as been disrupted by other companies. Here's her list of what makes a great disruptor:
- Disruptors are focused, obsessed and maniacal. They start with a brilliant idea that solves one problem and they broaden that idea only with a lot of thought.
- Disruptors are passionate, customer-centric, unsatisfied and always transparent with others.
- They create space for freedom and serendipity within the workplace and team.
- Disruptors are able to slay misfits, failures and bureaucracy quickly. Once they start to believe their own hype, things can go south. Disruptors are able to go back to their core as startups.
- For as big as a disruptor can dream and as many risks as they take, be sure to keep resilience and grace with you on the journey. Peluso explained that she tells her two children to have big dreams, and the confidence and audacity to achieve them. Disruptors are going to make mistakes and let themselves and others down, but they can pick themselves up and learn from their mistakes.
Peluso has held executive roles at many companies. She explained that some people would consider her leadership style more nurturing, but good leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. “Don’t let anyone else define what great leadership means,” Peluso said.
Peluso says her leadership style includes:
- being authentic;
- not getting trapped in what others consider to be a good leader; and
- knowing the learning style of team members just as a teacher knows the learning style of students.
Peluso suggests that you start building up leadership skills as early as possible in your career and continue to build after you're in a leadership role.