3 Tips From a Trailblazing Female CEO on How Women Can Become Better Leaders
While change is in the air, we still have a long way to go to close the gender gap in representation and pay in today’s business world. Women work much harder for the same recognition as men, which can result in greater fear of the unknown and of failure.
Roadblocks will always arise, but it’s important for businesses to empower women to take on those situations with confidence, using them as a catalyst for growth.
Anna Fabrega started her career as an Operations Manager and eventually worked her way up to Managing Director at Amazon, helping to launch Amazon Go. She is now CEO of Freshly, the nation’s leading prepared meal delivery service. As a successful entrepreneur and leader, Fabrega has been through it all.
Fabrega shared with me why being open to failure is the secret solution to long-term success, and how a non-linear career path can catapult you to the top. Here are Fabrega’s top three tips for women in business.
1. Treat failures as opportunities
While failure is usually something we try to avoid, sometimes the biggest moments of career growth stem from a misstep. Treat failures as opportunities to digest what went wrong and come up with new solutions. This cycle of acceptance and reflection will make you a better leader and allow you to turn a seemingly negative situation into a positive one.
This also applies to your personal life, shares Fabrega. “As a perfectionist, I was always nervous that the world would crumble if I changed my mind or let myself fail. It took failures in my personal life for me to finally put everything into perspective and decide what I truly wanted out of my career. I ended up taking a leap of faith and shifting what I had originally thought my priorities were – and found that to my surprise, nothing bad happened! Making those changes for myself taught me that failing isn’t the end; it is a moment of growth and strength.”
Taking each experience and really owning the moment — whether positive or negative — builds a better leader and teaches a lesson that sets you apart from others. Look at each success and failure as another building block to grow and use whatever outcome to your advantage.
2. Stay curious
As you climb the corporate ladder, don’t assume you know everything you need to reach the next level in your career. Be a sponge and absorb any and all knowledge you can. Fabrega has been following this concept for a while. She shared, “I always say, learn everything. Even if something seems straightforward or well outside your job description, get your hands dirty and learn every facet of your business. At my first job, I was in the warehouses constantly learning each job from the ground up so I could truly help and advise my teams without sounding disconnected.”
Fabrega notes that your curiosity has payoffs in the end: “You’ll be so much more knowledgeable than your counterparts who remain siloed, and the decision makers will notice. Endless curiosity will only make you a better leader.”
3. Embrace a non-linear path
Make decisions based on where you feel you need to grow — and not because the ‘rule-book’ told you how to get from point A to point B. Again, don’t be afraid of the potential for failure and do what is best for the growth of your career. Fabrega advises, “Take a pay cut; take on a job that might not be a perfect fit, but will give you the business experience you need to reach and excel at your dream job.”
In her journey to the corner office at Freshly, Fabrega was forced with many difficult decisions along the way. “I’ve definitely taken a pay cut and made strategic decisions when it comes to the jobs I’ve accepted. I have always made it a point to be well-rounded and I don’t recognize lanes. If a warehouse job was ultimately going to get me to where I needed to be in the end, then I did my best work for however many years were needed and used that as a catalyst for my next move.”
Today, Fabrega continues to drive growth and innovation across her teams at Freshly. The hope is that Anna’s journey will empower fellow female executives and leaders as they drive and shape the future of business.