Since time immemorial, businesses have searched for the secret combination of skills that make a great leader. Successful organizations realize that leadership is much more than a set of traits or skills, there is also some aspect of the intangible. Today, they understand that leadership is a complex process, and the skills required to be effective have to be developed through self-awareness, determination, emotional intelligence, and courage. Great businesspersons need to be bold and reasonable, risk-taking but reflective while fulfilling their responsibilities as a leader to others. Employees want to work for leaders who make decisions while being inclusive, who use rational and emotional intelligence while exuding confidence and humility.
“People follow those who are inspirational, invite trust and earn respect. I have always been a natural leader, but I have realized the importance of every single interaction living these qualities more and more as I have gotten older. You want to keep investing in people and yourself, building not only a positive neural network in yourself, but that people around you also believe in your ability to lead them to success, and also through hardship,” affirms Marne Martin, President of IFS Service Management Global Business Unit and the CEO of Astea and Clevest. The list of traits that make a great leader is so long and contradictory that people are always left asking, “Where do we start”. One leadership trait that is characteristic of all great leaders: Courage in Complexity.
Marne’s list of responsibilities necessitates those traits. Her position as the leader of IFS’s service management portfolio means complexity is a daily part of her life. Not that it perturbs her. “It is my belief that complexity shouldn’t be simplified. It should be seen as an asset and with the right technology, embraced to improve customer experience, efficiency, and growth,” states Marne. With strategy and execution at the core, she ensures customers receive the business value they expect from a global industry leader in field service management (FSM) and adjacent line of business applications.
Even before joining IFS, Marne was quite accomplished in this sector. Serving as CEO, she led the executive leadership team at ServicePower Plc. and then at WorkWave, both FSM software companies. Innovation-led, she was responsible for the transformation of their go-to-market strategy, shifting focus to SaaS, has reaped rewards year on year. Elaborating on her journey Marne describes her reasons for joining IFS, “I started my career working with a variety of companies in a variety of industries, with telco the most prominent. Running companies, growing them, building out networks, launching operations, setting retail and monetization strategies, and running service teams was very impactful to me and useful later moving from being on the customer to the vendor side. My inspiration to join IFS was the opportunity in the software industry, the people, and the belief that delivery and enablement of service, whether that is an asset, people or customer-based service. Delivering the amazing Moment of Service that matters to a business and its end customers, is what not only powers our economies, NPS scores, but also the growth and development of iconic brands. I am very passionate about what we are doing for our customers here at IFS and how they put our technology to work to create these Moments of Services for their end customers,” elucidates Marne.
Reflections on the Past
It is often said that people who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Indeed, our history has a great influence on shaping us into the people we become. For Marne, her formative years left a profound impression on her. “My grandfather once said that a person can only lose their integrity once – so make sure you are a person that people can always respect. I always remembered that and worked to live that my entire life and career. Growing up on a ranch, being independent, and even from a young age balancing competing priorities, being successful in STEM, sports, and having the opportunity to live my dreams is what has made me the person I am today,” reminisces Marne.
This fascination with the past continues to influence her life and work today. We often ask ourselves, “Would I make the same decisions had I knew the consequences of my actions”. Leaders of all stripes need to study the past, whether it is decisions of business leaders of yesterday or the empires of a time long past. It gives us valuable insights about ourselves, the people around us, and the organizations and societies we live in. This form of intelligence is becoming increasingly important for leaders, in a world where geopolitics and business are getting intertwined. “We live in a globally connected world. To ignore the current reality of international relations would be a folly for any business leader. History has always fascinated me, but the actual amount we know about history, what was in the hearts and minds of those making the decisions at the time is quite sparse. I remember reading the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire when I was a teenager and thinking about how that related to societies, economies, and businesses. So perhaps an interview with Emperors Constantine or Romulus, on whether they recognized they were causing the fall or that actions they took led to it, and why they pursued the actions they did would be incredibly fulfilling and insightful as a person and a business leader,” shares Marne.
How to be a leader of the future?
What skills do future leaders need? A question that is often asked but never satisfactorily answered. Today, research tells us that great leadership is not only about a bulleted list of teachable skills, but about the quality of the person. The ability to lead is a developmental story with many common threads, albeit leadership is as unique as each human being. In the case of Marne, the context of her life story and her current beliefs reveal her character as a leader. The clue lies in her past, in her values, and her ability as a leader to tackle complexity, all of which reflects in her answer to our question about her goals for the future. “Personally, I want to continue to grow in my capabilities, build my network, and think about how I can be the most impactful in the business community and our global societies. Opportunities have had a way of finding me at the right moment with the right people, like they did here at IFS, and I am sure that will continue. My curiosity and desire and ability to learn will never stop.”