2020 certainly tested all of us in ways that we could not have imagined before. As a contract packaging company for medical devices, my company was impacted both positively and negatively. With this lens, I wanted to share a few leadership lessons that I learned.
1. Flexibility – We certainly had to “flex” during the pandemic. First, we had customers stockpiling inventory, then they didn’t want any, and finally they started selectively ordering. For us, that meant constantly adjusting. As a packaging supplier, we are usually the final link in the chain, so we are used to changes. Because of this experience, we were able to pivot quickly and demonstrate to customers that we could adapt even in these crazy circumstances. As a leader, my role was to demonstrate flexibility myself, empower solution ownership, and champion new ideas.
2. Empathy & Trust – although I could not physically be in the office every day, I tried to be a calming, caring force. Both customers and employees needed a steady, reassuring presence, and to know that the leadership team cared about them personally. Empathy is often seen as weakness in leadership, but it is really the secret to success if you want talented people to follow you. I also think that it can be a superpower for women in leadership roles. We can tap into levels of trust that many men are hesitant or ill-equipped to attain.
3. Communication – lastly, clear communication is important. Even if you don’t know how to proceed, it’s helpful for customers and employees to hear from you and that you are working on a plan. Many times, people hide until they have all the answers, but when things are uncertain, it’s better to share what you know and talk through your plans. They will appreciate your honesty and often will help find a solution.
I think all these skills are helpful for women in tech leadership roles, and we should embrace and champion them as keys to successful leadership, particularly in times of uncertainty.
One of the things that I am most proud of is how our team responded during the pandemic. We pulled together and adapted. I could not be prouder of our team, and we are emerging from this as a stronger, more collaborative company with confidence that we can handle anything.
Pamela McMaster bio:
Pam is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur, who started her medical device packaging company in her family room in 1980. It was a considerable leap for a woman at that time, but she persevered. From those humble beginnings, PRO-TECH Design & Manufacturing has grown into a world-class packaging company with over 150 employees, multiple locations, and serves some of the largest medical device companies in the world. Pam’s relentless focus on providing superior, personalized service to her customers helps her stand apart and has made her a leader in a typically male-led industry.