“It’s all in the State of Mind”

Consalia / 03 July 2014
Javier Marcos, Cranfield University
By Cathy Ward,
Global Process Executive, SAP Field Operations

If you google the word “leadership” you get 445 million results – a topic that has been written about extensively and that has many different flavours and meanings…. I was asked to write about a topic that interests me, and so, based on my experience, here’s my leadership perspectives.

I am sure that each of us has those individuals who we look up to, who we say inspire us and we can spend time analysing their behaviours, listening to what they say, and observing how they it – visionary, motivational, charming …they can be your boss at work, a TV personality or a family member, and of course observation and modelling is a great way to learn, but my personal view is that leadership starts within and each and every one of us has an opportunity to lead, both inside and outside the working environment – if, of course we choose to do so!

At school, I had an English teacher who shared a poem called “It’s all in the State of Mind” – she gave me a little card which I still have today. A simple poem and a simple message all about those inner voices telling us if we can or can’t and one line from that poem stays with me after all these years… “If you think you can’t – it’s almost certain you won’t”.  Mind set for me is the single biggest driver in being who you want to be, and having the confidence to lead.

Authentic leadership I believe has the highest impact. Authenticity means understanding and aligning your leadership style with your personal values and goals. Understanding yourself first, and then the people in your team provide the basic foundations to leading and most importantly creating followers, aligned on a common goal. Try this exercise to learn more about your personal values: Personal Values

Leadership by definition is about getting results from others – you certainly can’t do it alone. I always look to surround myself with smart people who challenge me and have different ways of thinking. To be successful as a leader, I want to have the best mix of talent. I need to be aware of the differences in approach, working styles, and cultural aspects to engage and lead effectively. With an inclusive approach, I have found that I can build a top performing team if I focus on each individual’s strengths ‒ so that the sum is greater than the parts. I also know that there are different situations when my style needs to flex to get the best out of the individuals and the team.

And so I simplify my leadership perspectives into 3 takeaways –

  1. Mind-set – think “I can”
  2. Understand yourself first so you can be an authentic leader and focus on your “unique brilliance” (what makes you you!) and your strengths
  3. Build the best team by bringing individuals together who have a diverse set of skills and embrace these individual differences to drive innovation & top performance

And finally… start each day with a personal challenge – in the words of Sheryl Sandberg

 “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” (

Cathy is the Global Process Executive for Deal Execution in SAP’s Field Operations Team and is responsible for the standardisation and simplification of the end-to-end opportunity management processes to enable SAP sales teams to qualify, review and structure their business and maximise value for both SAP and the Customer. Cathy has over 20 years’ field sales experience in the Technology Industry and her diverse career has enabled her to develop a wealth of international and sector knowledge specifically in the software sales space (global accounts, large enterprise, channels & alliances, and business operations).

Cathy holds a First Class BSc Honours Degree in Psychology from the University of Birmingham. She is married and has a passion for skiing, hiking and travelling.



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