Women in Leadership: Pamela Maxwell
Pamela Maxwell has over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development. Throughout her career, she has been at the forefront of leading new teams, launching new programs and developing new business opportunities. She currently serves as One Call’s senior vice president of field sales and is responsible for leading and empowering the field sales team to be great by providing them the tools and solutions needed to succeed. She holds certificates from universities including Texas A&M and Eastern Michigan. Outside of her professional career, she carries her leadership skills into her role as Board Chair of Girl Power 2 Cure, a 501c non-profit organization.
What are some obstacles you faced early in your career and what did you learn from them?
At 25, I became a manager and had a team of six men who were all older than me. At the time, I did not recognize obstacles for what they were, which made me a bit fearless. Looking back, the obstacles I faced in my youth were understanding what I didn’t know and being taken seriously at the same time.
I learned it's okay to not know all the answers. I would tell a customer ‘I don’t know, but let me go find out’ and when I did, I followed through with the answer. I took every training class, asked questions and studied on my own to make sure I understood the critical success paths for my team. My youth taught me to never stop learning and the importance of gaining perspective from other people.
What advice would you give to someone looking to either become a leader or be a better leader in the sales field?
"Know your passion, serve first, be authentically who you are and follow through with what you promise."
Passion – When I became a leader, I thought ‘oh this is my thing’! Helping other people succeed and watching them grow is my passion. Be self-aware of your passion, be visible in your organization and contribute to the greater good all while being selfless; and that will get you recognized for all the right things.
Serve first – I approach sales from the aspect of serving my customer first. If you come at any situation with a serve-first mentality by taking care of your associates and your customers, they will take care of you.
Authenticity – Showing up as who you are allows people to trust you. Being authentic is the most important thing you can do as a human and as a leader. People trust people that they believe have no hidden agenda. Understand your authenticity, recognize your passion and know yourself enough to be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table.
Follow through – Always under promise and over deliver. Be accountable; do what you say you will do and expect the same from your teammates.
What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader at One Call?
Authenticity!! I can’t say it enough! What comes with authenticity is credibility and trust. Being a credible leader and someone people can trust is critical in any leadership role. You have to walk the talk. I never ask people to do things that I am personally not willing to do. It may not be your favorite task, but sometimes you have to roll around in the mud and show people you understand their challenges and goals.
In addition, people want clear expectations. They will react to what you inspect; they pay attention to what you pay attention to.
"Helping people be successful as a leader is not only about setting expectations but having the person set their own expectations and following up with them around specific, measurable, achievable results."
How do you motivate, lead and develop your team at One Call?
I believe people want to know how they fit into the greater picture. An essential element in providing leadership to my team is sharing the company’s vision and being transparent. Outlining the path and the end goal while being open about the tactical steps to achieve that goal is so important. I’ve never believed in telling people what to do without the ‘why.’ Explain the why and then let people set their own path aligned with that vision. Once we set their individual vision, give guardrails and guidance to hold them accountable.
My team says ‘Pam pushes us.’ I am a big believer in continuous improvement – thinking of better, faster and more efficient ways to do things. It’s critically important to believe that people are capable of more than what they believe they are. If you do that and treat them accordingly, you create an environment where people will stretch beyond their comfort zone to achieve more.
Who are the influential people that helped you get to where you are today?
There have been a lot. My mom made me independent and unafraid. She would say ‘You can do anything you want.’ My dad gave me business acumen. My grandfather was a jovial extrovert who loved everyone and believed in equality, which taught me how to treat people. My mentors along the way who took me under their wing and pushed me to believe I was capable of doing more.
Altogether, they taught me to believe in myself, to take risks and that failure is okay. Having multiple mentors both personal and professional is really important.
How did you initially become involved in Girl Power 2 Cure and how has your involvement in the program influenced your leadership skills?
Girl Power 2 Cure is a program that educates and raises awareness for Rett Syndrome, a debilitating neurological disorder that predominately affects females. Rett Syndrome babies are born normal and healthy, but between the ages of one and three, their bodies stop producing a protein that is critical for normal brain function. Unfortunately, it’s a progressive disease.
The founder of the program moved to Jacksonville to better care for her daughter who has Rett. She reached out to me just looking to network, and I met her for lunch to learn more about her organization. I loved their message and immediately joined their board and am now serving my 7th year. Girl Power 2 Cure promotes awareness, provides support and raises funds for research as we believe this is the first neurological disorder that can be cured.
I think my leadership skills are the values I bring to that board. I challenge them – like I do everyone in my life – to think differently about what they do. Serving this organization and the families we impact has made me even more empathetic, which keeps me grounded. It reminds me there are some issues in life that are not important and how blessed I truly am.
How do you manage a healthy work-life balance while staying successful in your career?
I have gotten better at this; when my kids were little, it was harder. Early on in my career, I had not quite figured out the secret sauce to this balance and I struggled to find it and my inner peace. Now I know time management, organization and prioritization are essential.
You have to be super-efficient at what you do and really dig into what is critically important. I constantly challenge myself to make sure the tasks I’m working on are critical to my team and to the greater goal. There are a million things I could be doing that won’t move the needle. It’s paying attention to the right activities and knowing when to say no, both professionally and personally.
When I am with my kids, I am fully present. They are my number one priority at that time and if I have things to do that will pull me away, I set their expectations. I have done this since they were very young. I’ve also learned to take better care of myself and to be a little selfish with me time and my relationship with my husband. These things create the essential peace to maintain the energy and focus I need to perform my job well.
What resources do you use to develop your own leadership skills? Can you reference a podcast series, author or book that has been significant to you as a leader?
I am a voracious reader. I love all the classic leadership books: Swim with the Sharks, Good to Great and Seven Habits. Two that have resonated with me are Credibility and The Relationship Edge, which is about building and developing meaningful business relationships. Learning how to evaluate and score relationships was eye-opening. It taught me to pay attention to how well I knew someone and how to really leverage a business relationship.
One of my favorite business authors is Blair Singer – he has a unique style. He wrote Little Voice Mastery and it talks about those little voices in your head that prevent you from accomplishing your goals. I still use many of his philosophies and management recommendations.
"It’s always good to constantly be reading, learning and listening."
Is there a life motto you live by that has influenced your leadership style?
JUMP! The saying goes ‘life begins outside your comfort zone.’ Life is all about taking chances, grabbing opportunities – even if you think you’re not ready for it – and giving yourself the opportunity to fail. If you’re not screwing something up, you’re probably not learning. How many stories do you hear about the failure of famous people? Staying in your comfort zone all the time is not a place for growth, and I have always believed you should be looking for and thinking about what you can try next.