Aug 9, 2017
Summary & Ideas for Action
Lessons from a 20-year Microsoft Executive
Sherlaender “Lani” Phillips is a 20 year executive at Microsoft,
and she describes mentoring techniques that create a growth mindset
culture where people are valued, and accountable. She believe
mentors hold people accountable to invest in themselves. She values
authenticity, honesty and even difficult times as ways to inspire
the team to bring their best every day.
[2:39] Lani was invited to join Microsoft after she gave a
presentation about the Windows platform.
[4:06] Mentorship is very valuable to Lani. It comes naturally,
but she continues to invest a great deal of time developing her
mentoring strengths. Lani constantly feels like a student, and a
work in progress.
[8:36] To hear the unheard, Lani has created listening
forums in her organization. The People Team pulls from all teams
and is facilitated by a manager sponsor. The team gives direct
feedback to improve the experience within the culture.
[9:49] Lani is clear about cultural values.
[17:03] Adversity makes you stronger. Look for the lessons in
the difficult times. As an African-American woman, joining
Microsoft 20 years ago, there were not a lot of people who looked
like her. She struggled, especially in seeking to transition from
the technical area to the sales area. She considered leaving the
company, but was able to clarify her conversation until she got the
opportunity to transition.
[21:30] Confidence comes from being prepared. Humility means
being willing to receive feedback, and to take action from it. The
environment must allow authenticity, vulnerability, and making
mistakes. When it’s time to show up, be prepared, and be
[24:27] Delegate authority around tough decision making.
Managers need to foster dialog where the team arrives at the right
solution, instead of telling them the right answer. When people ask
Lani a question, she asks them questions that help them solve
problems. Don’t provide the answer.
[27:40] Mentor leadership is part of the legacy Lani wants to
leave behind. Lani comes to work as her authentic self, and leads
by example. She wants to create an environment where more people
feel like it’s OK to be like Lani. You have to be collaborative
from the get-go.
LinkedIn: Sherlaender "Lani"