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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

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.


Key Takeaways

[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 confident.

[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.


Twitter: @phillipslani

LinkedIn: Sherlaender "Lani" Phillips