Ladies, meet Sally Kenyon Grant, a #leadinglady if ever there was one. Sally is a #WheatonGirl turned #CyberLeadingLady. With more than 25 years of experience everywhere from The Hill to the VP seat at a leading tech firm in the Washington, DC area, Sally is a champion of #WomenInCyber. Sally is also a key member, promoter, advocate, and organizer for the Executive Women’s Forum, which specializes in Information Security and IT Risk.
Basically what I’m saying is that, if you’re looking for a #WomenInTech role model, Sally would certainly be at the top of any list.
I grabbed Sally last week so I could ask her to give us some advice. Here’s what she told me:
“You’ve got to go above and beyond. You’ve got to make an impact at every moment and you’ve got to rise people up at the same time.”
Sally was raised to have a high bar for achievement and to have an incredible work ethic, which she credits for her overall success. The other key, though, is her desire to serve and support others, a core characteristic I’ve experienced firsthand. I met Sally just before a big cybersecurity education conference last year, and she’s has been championing me ever since. She calls me on a regular basis to see what new thing I’m doing to move my business forward. She constantly offers to hang out with my son so I can go do some big, bold thing. And, she encourages me to research, prepare, and then “rock so hard” at whatever I’m doing. Service, I think, is in her DNA and it makes her not only an exceptional leader, but an exceptional friend.
She said, “It’s never about me, though. It’s about serving others and rising them up. That’s what motivates me. That’s what inspires me. That’s what makes me get up. It’s about my kids and my husband. It’s about the people I’m serving. My adrenaline comes from giving back to others every single day.”
Then she said this:
If you can’t go bold and big, stay home.
Bam. There it is, right there.
Sally is full of energy, vigor, and a commitment to excellence like very few people I know. What she’s saying, though, about ‘rising others up,’ is a foundational tenant to true leadership. True leadership, really, is servant leadership and transformative leadership. The experts in this topic all agree to that. Not only do we find joy in helping others and serving others, it’s a huge source of energy.
I start my day asking myself these key questions every day:
Who needs me on my A-Game?
Who can I surprise and delight today?
How can I act courageously?
I get energy from knowing that I am going to surprise someone with something that will make their day better, that I’m going to bring my all to whatever I’m doing, and that I’m going to bravely attempt things, take on projects, and coach clients to their success. Like Sally, I know that serving others and delighting them is a key source of energy. And, it ensures that I’m bringing high energy, enthusiasm, and excellence to everything I undertake.
As women, I think we are intrinsically wired to be thinking about nurturing and serving which, frankly, gives us a huge advantage in the corporate world. If we allow ourselves to look a photo of our kids and, instead of thinking, “I feel so guilty for not being there,” thought, “I’m doing this for you, kid! I’m changing the corporate structure for you. I’m rising up other women so you can see how servant leadership is best displayed. I’m securing our finances so that you can leap securely to your dreams,” imagine how much power we’d have in the work we do.
That’s a sticking point for Sally, too. There’s no doubt about it that when she’s at work, she’s fully committed to what she’s doing there, serving her clients and mentees, and building relationships that are literally helping to create careers for women in technology. But, when she’s at home she says, “As parents, you have to be present and honest. Be 100% engaged. Wherever you are, be engaged and present.”
Sally’s final words of encouragement for all us of was to join groups and clubs, serve on boards, and join associations. She said,
Surround yourself with greatness. It makes you better.
Thanks so much to Sally Kenyon Grant for her exceptional wisdom, energy, and enthusiasm for service. Sally embodies the quote, “Empowered women empower women.”
About the Executive Women’s Forum (excerpt from their website)
The EWF is the largest member organization serving emerging leaders as well as the most prominent and influential female executives in Information Security, Risk Management, and Privacy. The EWF has become a home base for women to grow their professional skills and build important networks. Most importantly, the EWF is committed to a holistic approach of enabling women to achieve their professional goals, preparing them to become more resilient, authentic leaders and nurturing them to fulfill their personal dreams. You can learn more about their national conference and upcoming forum at ewf-usa.com.