Lizette Williams Knows Showing Empathy Is Key in Visible Leadership
Facebook’s Global Head of Vertical Solutions Marketing Lizette Williams actively builds personal relationships with her team members
By Cristina Merrill
It’s not easy to start a new job during a pandemic and introduce yourself to team members digitally, but Facebook’s new Global Head of Vertical Solutions Marketing Lizette Williams is eager to make the best out of a difficult situation. Williams joined the social media giant in May 2020 after having worked in top marketing roles for major companies such as Kimberly-Clark Corporation, McDonald’s, and PepsiCo.
The way Williams sees it, real leadership is about literally showing your face, especially when times get tough.
“For me, leadership in this season has not been about the big speeches or inspirational moments we often think of when we imagine leaders,” she says. “Visible leadership in this season has been about showing up for your people, demonstrating healthy behavior you want them to adopt, supporting them as individuals through the ups and downs both professionally and personally, and showing deep, deep empathy.”
This empathy component is key for Williams. People are understandably frustrated right now. COVID-19 has dominated the conversation in day-to-day lives for over half a year. Employees across industries have lost their jobs, and even those parents who have been lucky enough to still have jobs have often found themselves navigating the scary, uneven world of remote learning.
Williams herself has felt the pinch.
“It’s been a tumultuous year, to say the least, and I myself have gone through tremendous change—including a shift in companies and taking on a new role and a new global team at Facebook,” she says. “I completed an entire interview process, onboarded, and started managing a marketing organization in the middle of a pandemic, with my children at home and at the peak of racial tension in our country.”
But this does not mean that Williams has lost her ability to feel empathy. Far from it.
The high-powered executive is doing everything she can to ensure employees feel heard across the board. She notes that she took on the leadership of a highly dispersed global team that has not had the opportunity to meet her in person. This is why she says she has “taken intentional steps in establishing strong relationships with them, getting to know what motivates them, what concerns they have, and how we can work together from a stylistic perspective.” She has invested time in establishing personal relationships with individuals and getting to know them as people.
This leadership philosophy is not limited to the workplace. Williams has a long history of showing up for the Afro-Latinx community. The native New Yorker-turned-Chicago-resident and proud Afro-Latina serves on the board of the Chicago Advertising Federation and chairs its Diversity Thought Leadership Council. She’s also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., which is historically African American.
“Visible leadership is showing up in a way that inspires, mobilizes, and demonstrates action,” she says. “In the words of Gandhi, it’s ‘being the change you wish to see in the world.’ It is living your core values and emulating the very behavior that you wish for others to embody.”
With such a strong mentality and attitude, not to mention a genuine desire to make valuable connections, Williams is destined to be the change she wishes to see.