‘Seeking to Understand Before Seeking To Be Understood’ — Advice From a Chief Revenue Officer

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Christine Mills, Chief Revenue Officer, Corporate Risk & News at Dataminr

Photo courtesy of Dataminr.

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April 20, 2024 at 10:30PM UTC

“I’m a believer in lifelong learning and that the most rewarding achievements come when you are willing to take risks and operate at the edge of your comfort zone,” shares Christine Mills, Chief Revenue Officer, Corporate Risk & News at Dataminr. “The business world is changing rapidly. Thriving in this dynamic environment requires a commitment to continuous knowledge building and development. Being curious and committed to learning even when you have broad experience is critical.”

On her end, Mills hopes to live these values and be an example to her team by a combination of continuous learning and “acknowledging that change and adaptation over time are essential to success,” she says. And, at the end of the day, Mills tells us that, “
I hope I inspire them to stretch and grow.”

Are you a manager looking to inspire similar growth in your own team? Here, Mills shares how she encourages growth and success in her direct reports, including how she gets new employees up and running. Read on to learn more!

What’s one strategy you’ve used when managing an individual or team that you think has been particularly effective? 

I try to apply the principle of seeking to understand before seeking to be understood in managing individuals and teams. I find it is always valuable to first understand the perspective of the people I’m working with, as it provides a foundation upon which I can provide feedback and guidance. I work to help team members achieve their own goals, using my understanding of the overall goals of the team and the company.

What is your No. 1 piece of advice for other women who are moving into or want to move into leadership?

Be authentic and true to yourself. It’s said so often it’s almost become cliche, but it’s a reality. If you are genuine in your communication and interpersonal interactions, people will recognize it. As a result, you will engender colleagues’ trust and willingness to also be authentic and transparent. 

How would you describe your leadership style?  

I believe in servant leadership. My job is to enable the success of others by providing guidance, support, encouragement — and to help ensure their interests are aligned to the goals and priorities of the organization. 

How do you make sure your direct reports feel well-supported in their lives, both in and out of the office?

My primary focus is to support, guide and grow the leaders on my team. I want to understand what motivates and inspires them and work collaboratively to help them achieve their goals — both in the role they are in as well as in their professional journey. 

On the personal front, I make an effort to know about their lives outside of work — their families, passions and hobbies — and to inquire about them regularly. When there are events happening in their lives that need their attention, I support them by being a resource to their team and backfilling their role and responsibilities. I also encourage time away from work to refresh, recharge and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Doing so means enabling them to really disconnect from work when needed, which lets them know I’m there to help.

What do you believe is the No. 1 thing managers must do when onboarding new employees? How did your own manager support you during this process?

The first two to four weeks of a new employee's onboarding is critical for both their experience and their successful integration into the team. It is important to be accessible and open with them as they get established in their role. Meeting frequently to address questions and guide them on which priority relationships to establish — both on their team and cross-functionally — is essential. 

One of my priorities is to ensure new employees understand how their role connects to the overall business strategy and work with them to develop the goals that support it. This sets a solid foundation for the rest of their onboarding. We have a tightly structured 90-day onboarding plan that includes formal feedback loops at the 30, 60 and 90-day mark to ensure the new employee is progressing in line with expectations — and is set up for success. 

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