Austin startup founder Autumn Manning is on a roll.
The fast-growing startup, which lets companies create programs where employees reward each other with digital points, plans to double its 50-person workforce this year.
Now, Manning is featured in the New York Times’ Corner Office column, which drills down on how CEOs lead their companies.
Manning talks about how growing up with a single mom who worked double shifts as a nurse, and being largely responsible for the care of her four siblings, instilled a strong work ethic early on.
“I liked the independence of having money, because we didn’t have a lot growing up. So starting when I was 13, I would work at least 20 hours a week. I was a dishwasher. I bused and waited tables. I would clean the church every Sunday. I will say the best job was waiting tables. It teaches you so much about serving people.”
Manning tells the Times that a key leadership lesson for her was learning to do a good job of communicating the “big-picture vision” of where the company is going.
“It’s about setting that North Star for everybody and then breaking it down so they know their specific role in achieving that goal. Otherwise, people start moving in their own directions.”
Another lesson: “To be an effective leader, you have to have self-awareness. I’ve always known that I have a lot of intensity and a lot of passion. And that can be my greatest strength, but that can also be a big weakness of mine.
If applied the wrong way, it breeds the wrong behavior, like people not speaking up because I am so passionate and intense about what I believe. So I have to go out of my way to communicate my intentions.
I’ll tell people, ‘I’m just going to go into my mode now where I’m just going to ask a bunch of questions in the hope that we can identify some areas where we can improve.’ That helps a lot to make sure people know why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
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