As an executive of a large human services organization, I deeply appreciate that talented human capital is the backbone of every successful endeavor. When you surround yourself with motivated people, who are the best in your business, success is a certainty.
I was once told by a mentor that my strongest talent was hiring highly qualified people and mentoring them to embrace ACHIEVA’s mission and vision. I’ve reflected on his statement over the years and concluded that knowing how to surround yourself with top-notch people is the skill I would recommend to any aspiring manager.
I’ve been blessed by having wonderful mentors throughout my career. They provided guidance and advice as I developed my management style. Mentors also opened doors to the greater community, providing me with opportunities to share with community leaders the great work done by ACHIEVA. Within ACHIEVA, I enjoy mentoring talented coworkers. I nurture their career ambitions, as well as their loyalty to the organization’s core values.
Networking with people who do not have an immediate association with ACHIEVA has been an essential element of our organization’s success. I am a person who enjoys interacting not only with people in my chosen field, but also with those who know little about it. I’m regularly amazed by the fresh insights I acquire by getting out of my comfort zone.
I also believe that doing what you love and loving what you do are important to successful leadership. Enthusiasm is contagious—both within an organization and with external stakeholders. While our day-to-day work may be stressful at times, I think it is best to project the image of a swan gliding on a still lake. Others need not know how hard you are paddling beneath the water’s surface.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Stay ahead of the curve. Constantly infuse innovative organizational undertakings and avoid getting bogged down in the day-to-day issues.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
Ginny Thornburgh, former First Lady of Pennsylvania, inspired me to become a strong advocate for rights and opportunities for people with disabilities. She’s taught many leaders in the disability community how to effectively channel our energies toward change. Ginny once wisely counseled me to mix a little honey with vinegar of my early advocacy efforts.
On Facing Challenges
I was on the front line of closing a large institution for individuals with intellectual disabilities. During many years of litigation, I was publicly called nearly every name in the book by individuals and unions that wished to keep a deplorable facility open. Like an inflatable punching bag, I just had to keep bouncing back.
Marsha’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Develop your own leadership style by emulating and adapting the skills of the leaders whom you most admire.