Company UpdatesJul 10, 2024

Women in Leadership – Making Yourself the Obvious Choice

AMP recently held another session of our Women in Leadership Program. We established this program in 2022 as an offshoot of our long running Leadership Development Program which focuses on the issues women more commonly face in their careers. Our goal is to create a broad understanding company-wide of how we can all work to foster equity and opportunity in our organization and beyond.

This session was inspired by Susan Colantuono, CEO and Founder of Be Business Savvy, a career development firm that empowers women to advance in their careers through enhanced business, financial, and strategic acumen. In her renowned Ted Talk, “The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get”, Colantuono challenges the traditional career advice that women receive and argues that it is the common denominator in why many capable, qualified women get stuck in middle management positions.

Women are typically advised that they need to work on their interpersonal and leadership skills, commonly referred to as “soft skills” – but rarely get the extra bit of advice needed to propel them into a higher position. This is to develop their business, strategic, and financial acumen. In other words, looking at the business’ goals and either taking appropriate action or making appropriate suggestions to help achieve and sustain those goals. Leadership manifests at all levels, and we wanted to share some practical advice for how anyone at AMP, in any role and at any point in their career, can begin to develop these skills and take their career growth into their own hands.

In our session, “The Numbers that Drive Success” we focused in on how three AMP leaders developed these business acumen skills, or “The Missing 33%”, as Colantuono defines it. We explored the advice they received throughout their career journeys, the “aha!” moments that challenged their previous ways of thinking about the business and their role in moving it forward, and how they foster the development of these skills on their own teams today.


Begin With the End in Mind

“Goal tracking is a critical part of goal setting, without it, it’s easy to lose sight of your personal evolution.” — Melinda Huza, Northwest Regional Manager

Melinda has witnessed a total evolution of our products and organization since she started with AMP in 2005. Melinda recounted a story from early in her career when she learned that she’d blown her sales goals out of the water. She had no idea! She’d focused on making a sale a day and it had been working well for her, but her career really began to flourish when she took charge of her success by managing her numbers and setting clear goals.

She shared that it’s essential to begin with the end in mind. This means always looking to the future to define the steps you’ll take to get there. Clear goals not only help in personal growth but also help motivate and guide your team.

Melinda offered three practical steps for effective goal setting:
  1. Understand your company or department’s goals and mission. Aligning personal and team goals with the company’s mission shows strategic thinking and commitment to the company’s success.
  2. Learn how the business makes money. This knowledge helps you make informed decisions and positions you as a valuable contributor to high-level strategic discussions.
  3. Know what other departments do. A broad understanding of different departments fosters collaboration and innovation. It helps leaders see the big picture and understand how various functions contribute to the organization’s overall success.


Jump Before You’re Ready

“Jump before you’re ready, because you’re never going to feel like you’re ready.” – Janelle Hannon, Inside Sales Manager

Since Janelle started with AMP in 2011, she has worked under different managers with different leadership styles. Each challenged her in new ways and offered different advice for how she can excel in her role and further her career growth. Today, Janelle leads a team of Inside Sales Representatives that are constantly evolving their own skills to sell new products and evolve with the business — and breaking sales records while doing it. She encourages each of her team members to reflect on what role they play in AMP 2.0 and to set ambitious goals for their professional growth.

During the session, Janelle emphasized the importance of embracing change and taking risks. She noted that women often wait until they feel 100% prepared before taking on new challenges. However, real growth happens when we step out of our comfort zone and seize opportunities, even when they seem daunting. For Janelle, this was the idea of prospecting over the phone.  At the time this seemed scary, but is now a core practice for the success of our Inside Sales teams. There have been many of these moments for Janelle over her career, where she embraced the challenge, while still standing firmly on what she believed to be the right move for her team and the business overall.


Make Yourself the Obvious Choice

There are few people at AMP who have comparable experience across our organization to Tiffany Mills. She started as a part-time college student and has held a variety of roles at AMP, in both support and management positions. Today, she leads our payroll team as Director of Payroll Systems & Support. Her extensive knowledge and experience across multiple aspects of the business have awarded Tiffany the reputation of a trusted leader and strategic thinker. She’s known for her calm, solution-oriented approach and her ability to navigate complex challenges. Her advice is particularly helpful for those in operational roles looking to grow.

During our session, Tiffany emphasized how important it is to always be the best at what you’re doing now. This will make you the obvious choice for future opportunities. While focusing on your own role, it’s important to look up and get a good understanding of what role other teams play in the greater AMP mission. We are all intertwined. Work in one area will impact another, and it’s important to know how your responsibilities will impact the business.

“When you’re in decision-making rooms, you’re there for a reason. They want to hear what you have to say, and you wouldn’t be in that position if they didn’t.” – Tiffany Mills, Director of Payroll Systems & Support

Through sharing personal stories, Tiffany emphasized the importance of working hard and speaking up when you notice a process that could be improved. Even if the change seems small, it could have big implications down the line – and you speaking up is going to be what makes you the obvious choice for future opportunities. She also acknowledged the imposter syndrome that she felt along the way, but urged everyone to not be afraid to voice their opinion, raise their hand, and seize opportunities as they arise.

Tiffany is a strong believer that you don’t have to have a fancy title to be a leader. We completely agree with her. Leadership truly does manifest at all levels at AMP and we have the best people on our team, leading from all areas of the business.


What We Learned

Empowering women in leadership roles requires a shift in the advice they receive, and the insights and personal growth stories shared by our AMP leaders left a lasting impression. We are committed to furthering the strategic, financial, and business acumen skills of everyone at AMP and will make a continuous effort to develop these skills on our teams. On a personal level, understanding the bigger picture, setting strategic financial goals, embracing risk-taking, and consistently striving for excellence are all vital steps in the journey toward becoming exceptional leaders. Now is the time to fill in the missing piece and unlock the full potential of women in leadership!

Watch the inspiration behind our conversation, Susan Colantuono’s TED Talk, to learn more about the missing 33% and how to transform your career!

written by:
American Marketing & Publishing