Lindsay Krakauer is the winner of the world’s first LGBTI leadership contest RAHM 2017. The New Yorker Woman was one of 100 and one of the few female participants Berlin. Since 2013 she works as Head of SAP Process Excellence for Siemens Healthineers.
What is your secret source for success? Why do you think the other finalist voted for you?
I don’t think it’s a secret. It’s a lot of trial and error of learning from great leaders, better ways to listen and support, while still making sure things get done. I’d like to think the other finalists voted for me because I was listening to them and we had a fun time solving the problems together.
At the contest were nearly 100 other finalists. What did you learn about them?
I learned so much from listening to the stories of others. I hadn’t been in a room that diverse in a very long time and took advantage of the opportunities to hear about the different collective experiences. I met my first LGBTQI refugees and their stories of overcoming challenge inspired me on a deep level. I had a wonderful experience where a male contestant encouraged a female contestant to throw her “hat back in the ring” for a leadership role when she originally backed out thinking of the greater good of the team. This moment really made me appreciate all the mentors in my life that didn’t let me back down and encouraged me to “lean in.” I also really loved how people shared key leadership accomplishments outside of the office and how this was critical to practicing their leadership skills for their career development.
Being a leader isn’t always easy. What do you think is the most challenging thing about being a LGBTQI leader?
The hardest thing is be brave over and over as you enter new situations where you have to come out to be your genuine self. Sometimes it’s more difficult the higher you rise because people tell you to stay closeted and you don’t see as many role models in the C-Suite or even VP level. You just have to make the choice to be yourself and feel confident in the value you bring to the table being different. You also have to remember that others are waiting for you to take the lead so they can follow…a very important role.
There is still a lot of homophobia and sexism in the work life of a lot of people. How do you think we could fight it?
From my point of view and what has worked for me …First step, be visible as an LGBTQI person or an Ally to the community. Second, share personal stories of hardship or challenge that will connect with your listener. Third, ask them what their career goals are – listen – and see if you can explain the importance of having a diverse team, where LGBTQI people are a very important part of the diversity spectrum. Fourth, see where you have a collaboration point to engage them further.
Every medal has two sides. Do you think it helped you being out in your career?
Yes I do. Often times I think it’s harder to be a woman than a lesbian but for me the two are of course linked. Being out at work has afforded me opportunities to practice my leadership skills and drive difficult change that impacts a wider breadth of people than my normal job. It’s helped me to connect across organizations with amazing mentors and sponsors that I would never have met otherwise. Being out has also helped me to be a truly authentic and vulnerable person at work and this helps me to have a real connection with my other colleagues.
What 3 tips would you give other LGBTQI leaders?
Be brave – there are people waiting for you to pave the way … people further in their career and people just starting their career.
Be genuine – foster real connections at work and in your personal life.
Surround yourself with amazing people – they will pick you up when you fall and encourage you to try again.
You are the winner of RAHM. Please describe RAHM in three words and what you would say to people who are curious about RAHM?
Fun, Leader, Energy – I would tell people curious to just apply! Leadership comes in all forms and sometimes we question ourselves and think we don’t have enough experience and we do. Don’t overthink it, take a chance and apply.