Lead Like it Matters: Practical Advice on How to Be an Effective Leader
by Women In Trucking Staff, on Feb 7, 2024 10:15:09 AM
Supervising a team has its challenges. That’s why industry leaders have come together to identify ways to ease these issues for female leaders everywhere. Strong leadership takes drive, focus, determination, compassion, and much more to be successful. Here’s advice from a few top female entrepreneurs running their own trucking and logistics businesses today.
Maneuvering Through a Culture Shift
Aria Logistics founder and CEO Arelis Bonilla describes the most challenging situation she has faced as a woman in the trucking industry: Adapting and managing all the organizational culture shifts. “After going through a generational leadership and ownership transition last year, my answer is very different today than I expected it to be,” Bonilla says. “I think the most challenging for me right now is the culture shifts and the culture changes, and what’s expected of me versus what was expected of my father before.”
Bonilla says learning from her mistakes was key. The expectations put on her, answering her large team’s messages, and maintaining the best open-door policy she can while keeping the operational process in place is challenging. She says the hard part passes with the unfamiliar beginnings that have come and gone.
Adapting to Pandemic-Driven Changes
Nicole Glenn, founder and CEO of Candor Expedite, says running a remote team during the pandemic was a challenge she had to face with changes coming about continuously.
“We did see some success from [remote work],” Glenn says. “We were based in Illinois and I had just opened an office in Plano, Texas, in October of 2019. And then by March of 2020, the world had shut down. We had very limited time of having myself as the owner out of the main space, and expanding, but then continuing to want to double the size of our company revenue, profits, customers, and employees.”
Glenn says Candor Expedite saw the ability to start finding additional employees in different states, which really kickstarted the company’s expansion.
“I think we got to seven additional states that have people,” Glenn says. “But it’s really keeping that culture alive and thriving while you have people who are across the country, to keep those connections and trying to keep the people learning and moving forward in their careers–while having empathy for people being remote, and going through the lockdown status.”
Glenn says the remote work concept led her team to focus on engaging more with the employees and asking more questions to ensure consistent communication at all times.
Reimagining a New Business Model
For United Federal Logistics/UFL Services President and Co-Owner Jennifer Behnke, having no background in trucking was a challenge when she and her husband decided to start their business, and creating an entirely upgraded business model was part of the process. It led the team to start a new company.
“We were primarily [driver] teams nationwide for the first six years of being in business, and with COVID you have drivers who don’t want to ride with anybody. And then, the newer generation of drivers–they have families, they have responsibilities at home. So we had to switch to local and regional routes–that way we could tap into the changing driver market,” Behnke explains.
Behnke says pivoting business is critical when you come to a crossroad. You have to be able to see what’s working and what’s profitable, all while keeping your core values the same and trying to grow.
How Women in the Industry Can Support Each Other
Glenn says her work in operations and coaching people has led her to bring more mentorship into Candor Expedite. She makes a point to speak with employees regularly to gauge the next step they want to take in their careers. She also has created a podcast outside of her company called US Leadership Coalition. She works with five other business leaders in logistics to bring additional resources to their employees.
“Listeners can hear stories of people making strides in their careers, as well as listening to different women on their journeys,” Glenn says. “Key take-aways resonate with listeners to really take those next steps in their own careers.”
Nominations are OPEN for the 2024 Top Woman-Owned Businesses in Transportation recognition program. Learn more here and nominate by March 15.
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