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Viewpoint: For women business leaders, now is time for growth

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Candice Caruso | PHOTO COURTESY OF WSFS BANK

As a leader, recognizing traits in individuals that are fits for your organization and its culture is key. But a leader’s job isn’t just finding the right people – it’s cultivating talent, enriching employees’ careers and lives – and your own.

A recent WSFS Bank survey revealed that half of businesses found investing in their business as a top challenge during COVID-19. From a financial standpoint, this makes sense for some businesses.

However, leaders can still invest in their teams. Before pivoting in my career and joining WSFS, I started and managed my own company. I learned a lot about investing in people, building a successful team and managing through ups and downs, both professionally and personally.

During these trying times, I’ve leaned on my experience as a business owner, and now as a business line leader, to help my team and myself grow.

Here are recommendations for women business leaders (and others too) as they develop teams and prepare for a post-pandemic professional and personal life.

Be inspiring

As a leader, your team is looking to you for strategic direction and confidence in your ability to succeed during tough times. The WSFS survey revealed that 87% of women-owned business leaders feel they’ve been personally resilient during the pandemic. Eight in 10 feel their business is prepared to weather another storm.

Show that resolve and share your outlook with employees – inspire them with your optimism and focus.

My team and I inspire and support one another – we’ve built a culture of transparency and trust. And I know they are inspiring and supporting business clients navigating uncertainty.

Be proactive, assertive in your own success

As a business leader, it’s critical to avoid burnout. That’s easy to say and not always easy to accomplish, but it is doable.

I follow seven principles I have used to help my team develop, while also ensuring I have the time and capacity to accomplish our goals.

Principle 1: Set boundaries in your relationships.

You can be nurturing and receive the respect you deserve. Verbal contracts are important in setting boundaries, allowing you to communicate your needs and expectations. Communication, consistency and discipline is key in achieving the right outcomes.

Principle 2: Work on your business not in your business.

Have a strategy and leverage processes and procedures to teach others to “fish.” Empowering others allows you to be an expert in your field and free up time to focus on strategy and growth. 

Principle 3: Know your worth.

Determine the value of your time and do not give it away for free. During my years as a consultant and business owner, I learned to value my time by preparing proposals and billable rates. Do not be uncomfortable asking for what you are worth but do your research and know your market comparisons.

Principle 4: Be decisive.

Make decisions and know it is OK to fail. Test, learn and pivot as needed to help stay on course. Being decisive helped many businesses WSFS surveyed, as 54% experienced growth during the pandemic by pivoting business models.

Principle 5: Leadership is not about one person.

Know you will need help and realize it is a sign of strength, not weakness. You cannot be all things to all people. A good friend shared this with me when I was a new mom. You must ask for help and delegate to succeed. It takes a village.

Principle 6: Find balance.

You have many roles at work and in your family or social relationships. Put your oxygen mask on first to avoid burnout. Know what to outsource to maintain time for self-care. This could include grocery delivery, childcare, elder care, cleaning service or lawn maintenance service.

Principle 7: Focus on your greatest asset.

Do not forget about your health and wellbeing. Financial wealth without good health is too great a cost.

The path to success is not always clear, especially during a pandemic. Using these tips or establishing your own principles can help you and your team grow, inspire, and ultimately become stronger both personally and professionally. 


Candice Caruso is the senior vice president and director of government guaranteed lending for WSFS Bank.

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