Even though there are more women in leadership positions or starting their own entrepreneurial journeys, the fact remains that the fight for gender equality is still going on.
Further, recent US events like the overturning of Roe v. Wade highlight how much more progress still needs to be made.
Therefore, it’s up to all of us to empower women to raise their voices and join forces for a better and more equitable world.
In this episode of Taking the Lead, our host Christina Brady welcomes Amy Volas. Amy is the founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners. The two discuss the position of women in today’s business world. Amy shares her career path and why she prefers being an individual contributor rather than a leader. They also touch on the idea of success in the public and private sphere and conclude that standing up for what you believe is right creates better opportunities for everyone.
Leadership Is Not for Everybody
When we think about what success in business looks like from the general point of view — you get the job, work hard, and over time, if you deliver outstanding results, they offer you a promotion. Being a leader is a goal for many. However, managing people is hard and not everyone is built for that.
Amy was a successful leader and her team was successful, but the atmosphere was not pleasant. The lack of trust and support made Amy leave the leadership role.
”I was a very talented individual contributor. And I realized success quickly without any training. […] I read every sales book I could get my hands on. And I was self-taught, tried, screwed things up, and found my rhythm.
And then I cracked my code, and it started clicking. And without any training, I was closing seven-figure deals; I don’t know how that happened, but it did. And when that happens, you start becoming noticed in good ways and bad ways.
In good ways from leadership, they want more of that. In bad ways, from the peers you think are friends but feel threatened by you and are then nasty to you. […] Ultimately, they had to be my direct reports, and […] I also had hundreds of people in the field that were reporting to me. I was like 24, 25, 26. I was a puppy and had no leadership training, by the way. […]
I leaned into the scarcity mindset […], and it was my way or the highway. And that is a horrible way to be. And I made no friends in that process. […] It brought out the worst in everybody. And somehow, we were still successful as a team because I’m the person who, if it’s on my watch, nothing’s going to go down. I’ll do it myself before anything happens.
But I realized, ‘Wow, I’m burning myself out.’ People are miserable; I’m miserable. I had to manage people I didn’t trust and who didn’t trust me because of the backstabbing. And so, I raised my hand and said, ‘I don’t wanna do this anymore. I wanna go back to where the action is, and I wanna be where my buyer is.”’
Pursue Your Vision of Success
It’s challenging not to fall under various influences when building a career. But once you get some experience, you know what you can do, what areas interest you, and where and how you want to grow. Regardless of what others tell you, you must always listen to yourself and seek your happiness, even in business.
”I’m not afraid to say, ‘Your agenda doesn’t work for me, this does,’ and to cut across or against the grain. I’m not gonna die inside to have to do this job because I pour myself into my work. Work is not just work. It is personal. It’s in my DNA. It defines a lot of who I am, and I care deeply about it.
I’m not gonna do something because you think I should or because it’s the next level of the salary compensation. I don’t care about what you think. I care about what I have to do every day and either we’re aligned or not. And if we’re not, cool, let’s talk about it. […]
There’s a big difference between pushing through fear and coming up better for it than doing something we think we should do to satisfy somebody else. That’s not satisfying. And in fact, that holds us back.”
Not Following Through Is a Major Pet Peeve for Me
People have different work styles, but communication is critical regardless of how you approach your part of the job. The lack of communication is a deal-breaker for Amy.
”If you tell me you’re gonna do something, you don’t do it; if you do not follow through, you are almost dead to me. I go old-school, where our word is our bond. And it’s okay. Things happen, but I expect you to be a responsible person and say, ‘I told you I would do this, and here’s why I can’t do this.’ Even if it’s a text, I don’t care. Just let me know what’s up.
I do not like it when people fall off the face of the Earth and then come back like nothing happened, ‘Oh, cool, cool.’ No, not cool; not okay. Major pet peeve, a major problem for me.”