Honoring Women in Business: Q&A with 3 Paycom Clients
Exactly 30 years ago, Congress designated March as National Women’s History Month as a time to commemorate the contributions and achievements of American women throughout history and today. This year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business,” so we are taking a moment to talk with three business leaders and Paycom clients who are helping pave the way for future women in the workplace.
Shannon, president and CEO in the entertainment and education industries:
- What has been your key to success? Finding great people. When you find really good people, empower them to do their job.
- How do you inspire and motivate your people? I share my vision of success with genuine enthusiasm and invite my employees to join me on this journey. I believe an invitation, instead of a demand, helps my staff feel more valued in the process and motivated to exceed our goals. Also, I don’t take myself too seriously. In other words, this office’s outcomes aren’t life or death, so we can usually find fun in what we are trying to accomplish.
- What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? Many young women want it all, right now, and I love their passion. However, they need to remember that it does take time to make gains in a career. Don’t be afraid to express your desire for the corner office, but be willing to put in the work required to get there.
- What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop? I am a lifelong learner. I listen to TED Talks about women in leadership, balance and business, and I read The Wall Street Journal every morning. I constantly seek out new leadership information and let it resonate. I dwell on how it can be applied professionally and personally.
Janet, executive vice president of human resources in the insurance industry:
- How do you define leadership? A leader sets the tone in the organization, determines the direction, sets an example and helps people reach their goals. A leader has a strategic mind and thinks globally.
- Who is a female leader that you admire and why? I’ve worked with an inspirational HR consultant for many years. I admire her accomplishments and achievements, and I just want to absorb every word she says. Spending time with this mentor is basically practical application on the spot, because I can walk away from any conversation and apply what we’ve discussed.
- What do you wish you’d been told when you began your career? I had a light-bulb moment one time during a 360 review: I don’t have to give an answer right away. Instead, sit back, ask a lot of questions, get all the info and then answer or give advice. I realized that I’m not giving the best guidance by speaking until I’ve obtained all the information.
- How do you inspire and motivate your people? I try to discover what specifically motivates, drives and encourages each person. And I don’t try to interpret; I actually ask them! I’m reading The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace right now to customize encouragement.
Pam, chief financial officer in the construction distribution industry:
- What has been your key to success? Careers are a marathon, not a sprint. Not every day is going to be the best day ever and hard situations are temporary.
- What is one characteristic you believe every leader should possess? If you’re talking, you’re not learning anything. Listening is a good way to open yourself to new ideas. Show that you care by tuning out everything else and invest in the person in front of you.
- How do you integrate life and work? I try to keep everything in perspective and set boundaries. My husband is a big support and we work together in order to achieve balance. Busier seasons ebb and flow for both of us and we carry the extra weight for one another.
- What is it like being a female leader in a male-dominated industry? It’s interesting. For example, I was at a distribution industry executive round table the other day; there were 16 men and I was the only female. Times like that, you just have to believe in what you’re doing and be confident. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and don’t lose your sense of humor.
In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Take a moment this month to recognize the contributions and achievements of the women in your family, workplace and community.