Erin is not shy to stretch assignments. She’s a woman who takes on a challenge and runs with it.
Her mother, Barbara, was always her biggest supporter. Erin reflects, “She taught me to follow my convictions, trust my gut, build my connections, and not to do something just because it is easy.”
Unfortunately when Erin was 22 her mom was diagnosed with cancer. Through this crisis, Erin learned to keep moving forward, no matter what. Her tenacious attitude paved the way for a successful and enterprising career.
Here are some of her tips for staying afloat in the midst of change.
Throughout my career, I’ve grown the most during times of disruption and stress. Look at change as an opportunity! You won’t be able to accomplish your goals if you don’t deal with it. That’s true for individuals and companies. You will not always get it right, but you’ll learn a lot.
Set clear boundaries
When I was working full-time while getting my MBA and law degree at night, I learned how to pick and choose what I spent time on. This was very important when my mother was ill—I needed to be with her, go to school and work. Time is an asset. Learn to manage your own time; otherwise someone else will manage it for you.
Communicate in short, clear sentences
People are not clairvoyant. They don’t know what you’re going through, and you don’t know what they’ve been dealing with. Say what’s on your mind, so everyone can move forward. Humor helps too. During an intense time of change, I started a meeting using a PowerPoint slide with an elephant on it. I told them I would address the elephant in the room, and confronted the rumors to set the group straight.
Be smart with your energy
Understand what tasks needs to be done “perfectly” and knows when good is good enough. I used to burn the candle at both ends—I wasn’t always good at realizing when my energy levels were low. Over time, I’ve begun to understand when I need to take time to recharge, and that allows me to be an energy giver, rather than taker.
Know what makes “them” tick
It’s important to understand the people you work with. Know what motivates them and what pushes them away. It’s not one size fits all. Candid, direct feedback is always the best approach, but there’s a balance.
You helped grow a very successful business with VCE. Why was it so successful?
It’s really about having a good team. They say you’re as strong as your weakest link, but we didn’t have one.
Confidence. I think we women are harder on ourselves than men. When I was promoted I said, “I don’t’ know if I’m ready for this role.” My coach told me that if I were a man, I’d likely be saying, “It’s about time!”
What distinguishes a leader from a manager?
Leaders inspire, challenge, motivate and have people that follow them. Managers direct and inspect, and have people who work for them.