Lisa Dillon is General Manager of Microsoft EMEA Digital Sales Centre, building and leading a team of over 700 people, based in Dublin. She has over 25 years of experience in a wide variety of industries & functions for well-known blue-chip companies Oracle, BT, Motorola & Accenture. She is a highly motivated senior business leader, used to balancing the needs of operational and sales excellence with strong business management. She is a Board member of Enterprise Ireland, the European Executive Council of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) and the Inside Sales Directors Network (ISDN) of Ireland.
Lisa graduated with an MBA, Electronic Engineering degree, and Mathematics degree, all from Trinity College Dublin. She also holds a Diploma in Life & Business Coaching and a Diploma in Company Direction. She was winner of the Women Mean Business (WMB) Businesswoman of the Year Award 2017 and the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) Ireland’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women Award 2018.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
As with any skill or talent, leadership can be nurtured and developed through support and teaching. But from experience, I believe that mentorship is the most powerful tool in unleashing the leadership potential of the next generation. Role models can provide the inspiration and guidance to take risks, break boundaries and ultimately succeed in your career. Even today, I continually look to my fellow peers for their insights and feedback to bring me to the next level.
What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?
People often mistake management and leadership. From my perspective, leadership is centred on inspiring and motivating people to believe in the vision you have set out for the team and ensuring everyone on that team reaches their full potential. Leadership is about creating clarity, generating energy and delivering success. In comparison, management is more focused on developing the supporting framework and controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal.
The world around us is changing faster than at any time in human history and we need more leaders to emerge. How do we make this happen?
The key to ensuring more leaders emerge in the coming years is to provide strong role models to the next generation so they can not only imagine the world of tomorrow but are empowered by the experiences of others to help build it. That’s why Microsoft recently unveiled our innovation and education hub, DreamSpace, at our new campus at One Microsoft Place. Through our commitment to bring 100,000 primary and TY students to DreamSpace over 4 years, we can help forge the digital skills needed for future leaders who will drive innovation in all sectors.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
In today’s digital world, every company is becoming a software company, and the one mistake leaders make is failing to appreciate the need to embrace digital transformation. For new technologies are transforming how we live, work and do business. Despite this pressing need to change, many business leaders are fearful of the future and are looking for partners to position themselves as digital leaders. At the Microsoft EMEA Digital Sales team, we have embraced technology to help empower organisations throughout Europe and beyond to do more and achieve more. Through AI and predictive analytics, we are positioned to engage the right customer, at the right time and in the way the customer chooses.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
From my experience, high-pressure situations tend to develop from not taking action over emerging issues that you can have some degree of control over. In such circumstances, it is best to deal with it directly, rather than letting it spiral and become an intractable problem. I find that once I can identify an issue, I can strategise with my team as to best address it and lay out a roadmap to mitigating the problem. By knowing that an issue is being addressed helps significantly in reducing pressure and any stress that it may bring.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
For anyone looking to become a better leader in an era of digital transformation, I would highly recommend Satya Nadella’s book entitled ‘Hit Refresh’. Our CEO traces his own personal journey from a childhood in India to leading some of the most significant technological changes in the digital era. He also brings to life Microsoft’s own transformation as a company as we look to hit refresh in the persistent quest for new ideas, continued relevance and renewal.