What does it mean to be a leader? Just ask the women of NAWBO. With large and small businesses alike, their expertise is sure to provide relevant ideas you can apply in your business today. Many recall advice they received from a mentor early in their career; some offer their own advice from experience. Either way, their comments are sure to lend new perspective to your thoughts about leadership. Read on to see what seven NAWBO chapter presidents have to say.
What’s the best leadership advice you have ever received,
and how have you benefited from it?
“Gerry Wilson with the San Diego Union-Tribune once said, ‘Energy follows focus.’ Gerry’s wise counsel helps me stay on track with my goals. Another from Gerry, ‘Your last-minute planning shouldn’t become my current crisis.’ He had a way with words.” —Mindy Bortness, president/CEO of Communication Works and president of NAWBO-San Diego
“The best leadership advice I have ever received is ‘Never give up.’ Leadership is a tough and thankless job. However, true leaders never give up. We only fail when we quit trying. We understand that a growth attitude is the only way to survive. If we don’t fall and get back up, we can never grow.” —Denise Jerome, president of Michaelis Events and president of NAWBO-Louisville
“My best leadership advice is to always do the ‘right’ thing (for yourself, your employees, your customers), no matter what. The ‘right’ thing is not always the easy thing, although, I’ve learned that when I consider all decisions and choices from that place, a right decision is always made and a happier life is lived.” —Julia Aquino-Serrano, CEO of All Systems Grow and president of NAWBO-Ft. Lauderdale/Broward
“Some of the best leadership advice I have ever received was actually observed and also helped me as a parent: Admit when you are wrong or when you make mistakes. I like to think this quality has served me well in gaining the respect and trust not only of the people I work with day to day, but also of my 23-year-old daughter. Being open and honest fosters a relationship based on authenticity. As a result, you can develop meaningful relationships with staff that encourage them to do the same without fear or judgment, thus enabling professional and personal growth. Trust and be trusted. Very powerful.” —Jill Peck, partner at Henderson Shapiro Peck and president of NAWBO-Atlanta
“The best leadership advice I have received is to trust the people around you. It’s often hard for women entrepreneurs to trust others with our vision and to trust that others can do things just as well as, if not better than, we can do them ourselves. When I share my vision and trust other people to perform, we all flourish and they take my ideas and vision far beyond my original expectations.” —Julie Smith, CEO of OpenSpark and president of NAWBO-Philadelphia
“I think the best leadership advice I’ve ever received is to hire competent people and then get out of their way. Be there to guide them, be there for support, but trust them to do their job and let them do it. Once I started following this advice, I saw so much more productivity in our team. I wasn’t the bottleneck any longer. My team started feeling more empowered and more satisfied by their work. While I still struggle with this, I have seen the benefits, and I make it a priority. We are able to get more done with less because we hire the right people to do their jobs and then let them do it.” —Shauna Huntington, founder and president/CEO of Fortiviti LLC and president of NAWBO-Kansas City
“The best leadership advice I have received is ‘The worst they can say is no.’ I live by this motto. When leading in NAWBO, I use the motto when working with corporate sponsors, community partners, potential members and with building the leadership team. If someone says no, it is an opportunity to grow, to find new ways of exploring and/or expanding the relationship and an opportunity for self reflection to see if you are asking the correct question.” —Emily Wirowek, attorney-at-law at the Law Office of Emily A. Wirowek and president of NAWBO-San Francisco Bay Area