Wall Street Innovator Inspires Future Leaders
A testament to Carla Harris’ leadership skills can be found in the simplest of concepts: Her passion is rooted in helping others.
The Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley has a laundry list of accolades too lengthy to categorize, but the Harvard graduate has built success on Wall Street and has extensive experience in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial and healthcare sectors.
“We’re at a point in time where leadership really matters,” said Harris, who imparted her tools for maximizing leadership success in Episode 2 of Entrata Connect. “And one of the things I feel most passionate about is that you can lead from any seat.”
Harris discussed the importance of avoiding being pigeonholed by job titles. Oftentimes in the business world, high-performing associates were automatically promoted to leadership roles “without a second thought of whether you were the type of person who could motivate and inspire people to deliver beyond that which they thought they could deliver.”
Leadership must be an intentional endeavor, according to Harris, who imparted eight “pearls” that serve as the building blocks.
Authenticity: “Authenticity is your distinct competitive advantage,” Harris said. “Nobody can be you the way you can be you.” Understanding that everyone is multifaceted and that not all traits must be displayed at all times leads to a self-awareness that helps leaders relax while maintaining authenticity. “You can go into any room and not have a predisposition of behaving in a certain way,” she said.
Building Trust: “If your team doesn’t trust you, they are not going to give you their best intellect,” Harris said. “They’re not going to give you the benefit of their experience and they certainly will not expose you to their relationships.” The secret to building trust: Deliver results over and over again.
Creating Clarity: A powerful leader must create clarity even when they cannot see it, according to Harris. “You must define what success looks like for your team,” she said. “Because when people know what they are playing for, they are motivated and inspired to deliver beyond that which has already been defined.”
Create Other Leaders: “When you get to the leadership seat, the way that you amplify your impact in your organization is to create other leaders,” Harris said, recommending that leaders pass along the facets that allowed them to ascend to their role.
Diversity: “It does not just happen,” Harris said. “If you don’t have diverse thinking at your decision-making table, you will have a gap in your go-to-market strategy.” It takes seconds to lose brand value with a misstep, which can be avoided with a wider array of decision makers.
Innovation: “I’ve made the case that it is the dominant competitive parameter,” she said. While leaders must be intentional in teaching their teams how to innovate, part of that involves embracing failure, she said. Those afraid of failure will never reach far enough to truly innovate.
Inclusivity: “How do you show up as an inclusive leader?” Harris posed. “You solicit other people’s voices.” She advocates that leaders encourage associates to add on to ideas already espoused—and to play devil’s advocate—to get everyone’s fingerprints on the discussion.
Your Voice: “You must have the courage to call a thing a thing, no matter how bad that thing might be,” Harris said, alluding to the idea that many have remained silent when something should have been said. “Fear has no place in your success equation.”
Harris noted the key component that holds all eight pearls together is courage. As one who has thrived as a businesswoman, author, singer and in several other arenas, her wisdom certainly holds immense value.