In an age where women breaking through the glass ceiling have become more common, there still seems to be some mystery around what happens after that well-earned appointment to CEO takes place. By Pamela Springer (President & CEO, Manta)
Based on my personal experiences, I wanted to share the tips and advice that have helped me stay focused, accomplish the milestones I set for myself and transform a company into a successful business that supports entrepreneurs.
#1 - Prioritize, Focus and Commit
Perhaps one of the most challenging times for a new female CEO is the first few months, as it is critical to not only demonstrate your leadership and establish a vision, but to deliver results as well.
Make sure you’re upfront on what your goals are for the company this quarter versus this year, and then clear the deck of anything that isn’t directly tied to achieving those goals. Assess the situation by taking time to listen, create a roadmap that’s based on what you believe is achievable, commit resources to it and stay focused.
As you build some early wins, celebrate them throughout the company!
#2 - Invest in Employee Growth
One of the best things about being a CEO at an innovative company is that I get to be around the best and brightest people. Because Manta went through a period of rapid growth, we had several talented associates who were ready to take the next step in managing a team, but some of them were first time managers.
It was critical for us to help prepare our associates for how to be great managers, so we began working with a consultant to help us build a program around it. In time, we hired a full-time organizational development manager that has built out training programs that address a variety of management scenarios, provided an understanding and confirmation of “what’s it like to be a manager at Manta” and has laid a foundation that ensures that Manta has continuity and competency across the company’s management practices.
#3 - Enhance Your Skills with Outside Experiences
I’ve had the privilege to serve on the JobsOhio board and the experience has not only been personally fulfilling, but has challenged me to think, act and lead on a whole different scale. The opportunity to discuss and strategize about the initiatives that JobsOhio has taken on, and the impact it has for growing jobs in Ohio, has forced me to think big. And that’s not just in terms of the idea, but in terms of the impact the idea will have once it’s put into action.
When it comes to needing to move the needle in a meaningful way, it forces a focus and an alignment on applying resources surgically. The idea of taking the resources you have and focusing them to maximize the impact is something we all need to be reminded of.
#4 - Never Stop Learning from Experience
We should never stop learning from our experiences, especially since they hold valuable lessons that can help us think differently and approach how we lead in new ways. A couple of the most important lessons I’ve embraced over the years are 1) Be comfortable with the fact that you don’t have to have all the answers yourself, and 2) Understand your role and allow others to be great at what they do.
#5 - Create Motivation and Confidence Throughout the Company
At Manta, we have an extremely supportive investor base and a very engaged board of directors. We have associates who care and bring their A-game to work; they want to make a difference in building a company and helping a business grow. It’s very motivating for everyone at Manta to be part of something that impacts millions of small business owners (and their respective families) in a meaningful way.
We’ve built up some great momentum and, while we may not always get things right the first time, we’ve got a solid track record and methodology in place and are confident that we will ultimately figure it out. This confidence and belief in what we are doing and desire to make a difference fuels our success and is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of!
For all of my fellow female entrepreneurs out there, remember to make sure you are passionate about the industry you’re leaping into and focus on the strategic drivers that will move your business forward.
I wish you luck in all of your endeavors!
Editor's note: Got a question or answer for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Pamela Springer is President & CEO of Manta, the largest online community dedicated to small business. Manta recently raised $44M from Norwest Venture Partners which brings the company’s total funding to $61M. She has more than 20 years of experience building and growing technology-based companies. Prior to joining Manta, Springer held leadership positions with a number of high-growth companies including Interliant, reSOURCE PARTNER, Litton Enterprise Solutions and Metatec.