Why Salesforce’s Catherine Bowe makes ‘generous assumptions’

Catherine Bowe

“Your path to discovering new things is never over.”

“I am a huge believer in growth,” Catherine Bowe, senior director of marketing APAC Salesforce, told The Growth Distillery‘s vodcast.

I am a huge believer in being kind to yourself and allowing there to be this acceptance that you are forever changing and forever growing, and being quite generous with your treatment of yourself and others.”

The vodcast series – hosted by News Corp Australia’s director of the Growth Intelligence Centre and independent think tank The Growth Distillery, Dan Krigstein – explores what it means to be a good leader, with Bowe speaking about how her childhood and early career have influenced her current role.

In particular, she highlighted a technique called ‘generous assumptions’, which works to assume that people are doing something because that is the best option they have got at that point in time, rather than assuming that someone is acting with malice.

“If someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of responding with road rage and all the obscenities that you could go through your head, the idea of ‘generous assumptions’ is to ask, ‘what could that person be going through that has led to them acting in that way?’

It’s quite a conscious perspective shift to how you approach people’s behaviour. But it also reminds you that we’re very full, complex people.” 

Dan Krigstein and Catherine Bowe

Dan Krigstein and Catherine Bowe

It’s a message Bowe expanded on with Mediaweek, saying that when it comes to leadership, it’s important to acknowledge that everybody has their own “secret sauce.” 

“It takes a growth mindset and humility to acknowledge that you don’t know everything, and that you never will know everything,” she said.

Another hallmark of leadership Bowe spoke of is “acknowledging and encouraging the full person” and recognising that “it’s perfectly acceptable for people to have varying levels of need for privacy.”

“Some people don’t want to come to work and talk about what’s going on in their families or in their marriages or with their children. But it’s important to acknowledge that other things are going on, which are impacting who you are in a small and big way,” Bowe said.

“Acknowledging authentically who someone is and giving someone the generous assumption that their workload is not the only thing they are juggling right now can support people and get the most out of them, and help them be happy and fulfilled within their career.”

Ultimately, for those tuning in to the vodcast, Bowe said she hopes the message people leave with is that “the foundation of humility is acknowledging that there is room for growth.”

“There are things you don’t know, no matter where you are in your career. I think the secret to success is ultimately acknowledging that your path to discovering new things is never over.”

Top Image: Catherine Bowe

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