From First Employee to President: How One Woman Learned to Lead

Stay in the loop about the most important aspect of your business: your employees. By Tricia Sciortino (President, eaHELP) I never wanted to be the executive in a corner office who was totally disconnected from the reality of her team. I’ve seen many organizations run that way, but it always leads to disorder, inefficiency and disgruntled employees. Who would want to be at the helm of such a dysfunctional organization? On my path as the first employee at eaHELP all the way to becoming the company’s president, I’ve had the invaluable opportunity to understand each facet of the business on a ground level. Rather than coming in as the chief driver with a limited rearview of the people on my bus, I’ve actually sat in every seat. If you want to run a highly functional organization geared for success, you have to be connected with what’s really going on on a day-to-day basis. You need to be able to fundamentally relate to your team. These are five ways I try to stay in touch and on point.  

1. Get Involved in the Day-to-Day

It may sound anti-productive, but I very strongly believe that you can’t effectively lead a team if you don’t understand the team’s plight. Participate in team meetings, even if it’s not essential or expected for you to be there. Ask questions and identify where you can remove any roadblocks. You’ll be surprised how much more efficiently things operate when you make yourself available to facilitate progress in real-time.

2. Over Communicate with Your Team

Through each one of my diverse roles at eaHELP, I’ve found that the more people communicate with each other, the smoother things go. You don’t have to be right next door to your employees to do it well. I have daily webcam calls and meet with all of my managers on a weekly basis. Email and instant message can also play major up-to-the-second roles in keeping everyone in touch. Plan for weekly touch points with each team leader. This gives you the opportunity to ask if there’s anything they need help with and make sure all pieces are moving properly.

3. See What Everyone’s up to

I have access to the entire company calendar. Get comfortable and make it a habit to peruse your team’s schedules. I even review the calendars of my teams’ teams to become fully acquainted with daily goings-on, which are integral to keeping the whole operating and running smoothly. This birds-eye-view will allow you to see the puzzle in its entirety and how each piece fits together, rather than just a small section of the sum total.

4. Find Common Ground

If you want to achieve a high-performing, cohesive team, there has to be some sort of buy-in on individual levels. In short, your team has to be in your corner. Establishing an initial connection can be as simple as asking how their weekend was. Fundamentally, your team has to know that you care about not only your organization’s well-being, but their well-being as well.

5. Be Someone People Want to Follow

Women worry about being overly confident for fear of getting labeled with the “b” word. But, if you want people to have confidence in you, you have to first have it in yourself. It’s especially important for leaders to be self-assured — both in our ability to deliver effective results and the steps we take to do so. Don’t be afraid to do the hard work and get your hands dirty. Humility is a key component to being a great leader and will make it easier for people to want to follow you. If you want to lead an organization successfully, absolutely must be someone people want to follow. In the quest to truly know the inner workings of your organization like the back of your hand, seek to understand. Ask yourself about the needs of not only your customers, but — just as crucial, if not more so — your employees. What better way to understand where to steer a company than being in touch with the people who make the wheels of your organization turn?


About the guest blogger: Tricia Sciortino is the President of eaHELP. She joined eaHELP in November 2010 as a virtual assistant and first employee of the company. Follow her on Twitter at @triciasciortino.