Liz Swary, director of digital transformation at Seattle-based Logic 20/20, has spent her career helping companies to supercharge their business by implementing technology improvements.
Logic 20/20 is a business and technology consulting firm specializing in analytics, improving digital processes and strategy. It has been ranked as one of Seattle Business magazine’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For since 2016.
The company’s workforce is spread across four offices in Washington and the Bay Area, and it has grown steadily since the company’s founding in 2005. Swary joined Logic 20/20 in 2017 as a senior manager and is charged with helping to grow the company’s business and people, managing accounts and developing solutions for clients.
Prior to Logic 20/20, Swary served as a technology consulting senior manager at Accenture in Seattle. She is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics.
What are the most important characteristics of a good leader and what leadership traits are overrated? I believe one of the most important characteristics of a good leader is to do as you say. Don’t ask anyone to do anything that you yourself would not do. Get into the weeds and lead by example. Additionally, every good leader should learn how to find the balance between showing vulnerability and being relatable, but also supporting your team and providing strength and direction when needed.
On the other hand, I believe that the most overrated leadership characteristic is being the loudest voice in the room. There are other ways to be heard and find success.
As a woman, what is the most significant barrier to becoming a leader? There are two significant barriers for women that stand out to me. First, women tend to analyze more, rather than jumping immediately to decision or action. That means women are not always the first to the table. This approach/personality can be seen as a weakness or “less-than” but, in reality, it can be a real strength. Changing this perception is a big obstacle to overcome.
The second is the constant balancing act of work and life choices. It is a privilege that we live in an era where women have so many opportunities and are thought leaders, bread winners, mentors and coaches. We have many more options today, both in and out of the workforce. However, with that comes more challenges in choosing our path, navigating priorities and taking care of ourselves ― especially when we want to be successful in all aspects of our lives.
How can women achieve more prominent roles in their organizations? Women can achieve more prominent roles in their organization by doing the following:
- Creating the right relationships and building trust with key leaders. Focus on decision-makers and those who can pull you up the ranks behind them. Find ways to make their job easier by alleviating work on their plates and, in turn, they will want to bring you along on their journey to success and advancement.
- Make it clear what your goals are and ask what you can do to get there. Don’t wait on someone else to define that path for you.
- Proactively own something that is valuable to the organization. This can be a project, committee or anything that provides value. This will bring visibility and weight to the contribution.
What key lessons did you learn from a woman who has inspired, mentored or sponsored you? I’ve learned various lessons from mentors both in my personal life and professional career. Some of the takeaways are:
- Take risks: If you think you might regret missing out on an opportunity later in your life because you didn’t try something new or hard, you should jump in with both feet. For women, that often opens the door to carve a path behind us for others where there may not have been one before.
- Your manager does not need to be your mentor. You can have a multitude of mentors that support your career and life in various ways. When you do choose a mentor or career manager within your company, consider the person who can command a room, speak to your accomplishments and support you in reviews and promotion.
- A mentor once told me “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” This concept has stuck with me and has helped me approach challenges first as a problem-solver, vetting options and considering recommendations. I make sure to do the due diligence before checking in with a leader/boss/friend for support on final guidance.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself at the end of the day. Take time off to put up your feet, focus on mental and physical health, and to stop and smell the roses ― because time flie, so enjoy it in the moment.
What advice do you have for the next generation of female leaders? The best advice I have for the next generation of female leaders would be don’t feel like you need to fit a certain look, persona or style as a female leader. Demonstrate success, and you will earn trust and credibility.
Don’t hold back from taking risks, raising your hand for opportunities or asking for help as you go. Success is a combination of being open to new opportunities and making yourself available and top-of-mind for the next opportunity.
How important is networking and how do you expand your contacts? I think a strong network is key to building a career. I have found that the world is truly small when it comes to a professional career. Those whom I have crossed paths with have often come back around when I’ve least expected it, either as a client, coworker, partner or vendor.
I try to build relationships that are not just focused on my day-to- day work, but I truly get to know those I work with on a personal level. I’ve always leaned toward being approachable, relatable and reliable, which has strengthened my relationships. Being an introvert, I am not great at networking events, so I focus on networking more informally. I like to grab lunch or drinks to catch up with past contacts. I also meet new people through less formal means, perhaps brought together by similar interests outside of work. I expand my network through trust, relationships and referrals.
What would you do differently in your career? Set boundaries earlier on. I would work to better understand what is important to me and define my priorities according to that. I would also acknowledge that it is okay to not take everything on, and even to let things fall through the cracks. What’s important is focusing on the things that move you toward your values and priorities.
Where will we find you on a Saturday afternoon? Taking my road bike out for a long ride on the Burke Gilman or Vashon Island, or hiking in any one of the amazing mountain ranges around the city.
What would be the title of your autobiography? “People, Priorities, Patience, … and Parties!”
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Daring Women Q&A responses have been edited and condensed.