Leadership is About Flexibility, Being Open, Learning, and Embracing What Is
By Elle Chan, Co-Founder, and Co-CEO
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to join a group of women leaders and entrepreneurs who are all building companies, leading organizations large and small, and striving to bring excellence to everything they do professionally. The organization is called Chief, and provides a network of people facing similar challenges and building companies that will make a mark in their communities, industries, and the world.
This unique organization fits with the ethos of TRADEMARK events, a company I’ve spent the better part of three decades building into an organization that delights clients, pushes creative boundaries and provides professional whitespace for employees, partners, and companies. Like the members of Chief, I believe that the most powerful magic is created when creativity is unbridled, opportunity is shared, and decision making is united. It isn’t always easy, but the results both for our clients and for the members of the TRADEMARK family are undeniable.
My peers in the Chief organization are all facing unprecedented challenges. Customer interactions have drastically changed and have become primarily virtual. Economic uncertainty looms, and buying habits have changed. For us, a new wave of the pandemic has kept the doors closed for real-world events and meetings…once bread and butter of our business. Clients are either restricted or personally cautious about face-to-face meetings where creative ideas are shared. Our clients’ customers share the same concerns, so finding a way to create excitement around a virtual or hybrid experience has now taken the forefront in our business.
Yet, the biggest challenge is finding the right balance between embracing change and building on what you know. As I speak to other women leaders, some things remain the same. I thought I’d share some of the early learnings, and the priorities shared by most of these leaders.
- Remember that your customers have been deeply affected by the pandemic, too. As you serve your customers, no matter who they are or what they buy from you, it’s critical to have empathy for how their professional and personal lives have been impacted in the last 18 months. Leaving your mark with this customer base could have more to do with helping them meet their own challenges in this time than selling them new products or services. Disruption can be the best possible time to build relationships that will bear fruit as the world returns to normal.
- Empower your people to do things in new ways. I’ve learned that I don’t always have the best idea in the room. Everyone from the intern to the C-suite is working to find new ways to accomplish the job. Listen. Give your team the ability to contribute in new ways. Embrace change and share the decision-making process with them. Now more than ever it is time to leave your mark as a leader with those around you.
- Don’t control what you can’t control. You’ve heard it before, but it’s so easy to get caught up in what you can’t change, or things that used to work, that don’t work anymore. Embrace the truth that you can’t control the pandemic, the economy, or the fact that work as you know it will probably be changed forever. Focus on what you can control. Have you reached out to your best customers to touch base? Have you checked in with your suppliers to see how they’re doing? Have you spent time with your team at all levels to check in on how they’re doing? And, have you sat down to check in with yourself? Are you focusing on incremental progress in a changing world, and giving yourself permission to try new things?
I can’t wait to spend more time and dive deeper into the Chief network. These are smart, dedicated people with the stamina to build their organizations, their products, their customer base in new ways. I am sure I’ll continue to learn a lot from them, and hope to offer valuable contributions as well. I’ll blog about my experiences, so tune in.