Emerging Leader Spotlight: Maria Shi

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence.

Maria Shi - PayPal This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Maria Shi, Director, North America Large Enterprise Strategy & Operations with PayPal.

Favorite leadership quote:  

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” — Maya Angelou

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?

Never underestimate the power of building relationships, even in seemingly minute and random interactions.  A very astute mentor and former manager told me that as people become more senior in their careers, being trusted and respected starts becoming equally if not more important than being good at what you do. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve started realizing the importance of this one statement and how it can make all the difference in how your thoughts, ideas, and work are received.

What is your leadership style?

As a leader, I try to empower and inspire my team to work together and to do better than what each person can individually accomplish.  Goal setting and developing a team vision and a collaborative team culture is a crucial foundation for providing the structure needed for each person to then figure out how they want to go about getting to their goals.  Part of that may involve me providing feedback, helping clear roadblocks whenever they encounter them and also providing air cover so that they feel safe taking risks in what they do.  At the end of the day though, I measure my own success as a leader by how well the people who work for me succeed in what they set out to achieve.

What leadership tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?

Feedback – it always amazes me how few leaders avail themselves of this useful tool that often doesn’t require significant investment. 360 degree feedback is so powerful in helping both leaders and individual contributors really pinpoint where their opportunities are and even remove blind spots in their career development. I’ve increasingly seen how incredibly helpful giving and receiving feedback has been for my career. Not only does it elevate my building trust with others, but it also allows me to understand what skills and qualities the people around me value and respect. Consistently getting feedback has certainly allowed me to round out areas where I’m not as strong and in addition, has given me the unexpected benefit of being able to empathize with people who are very different from me.

What steps are you currently taking to develop yourself, professionally?

One of my greatest fears in my career is to become complacent in my skills and in my experience, so I make a conscious effort to always learn, whether it’s taking on a new project or area that I’m not as familiar with or focusing on building skills to develop my team and be a better leader. I also notice that some leaders focus less on personal development as their careers get busier and they take on increasingly larger responsibilities so I’ve purposely carved out time every quarter to continue to dedicate to personal development, whether it’s taking another leadership class, attending a webinar, or meeting with a mentor for drinks or coffee. I also make sure to always ask for feedback from everyone I work with, from my boss to my peers or even my team, so that I can continue to be both a better leader and a better contributor.

What are some top tips you can recommend to other women who want to be recognized as high-potential emerging leaders?

Don’t hold back and don’t be afraid to take risks.  One of the most rewarding experiences in my career has been taking on my current role, despite some people counselling me otherwise.  At the time, it was a considerable risk as this role had not been stable for a while and although I had just been promoted, it was still a stretch role that was leveled for a higher position.  In addition, I would be managing people who were previously my peers as well as hiring additional people who I had to ramp up really quickly.  I can’t say that it wasn’t a struggle at times but I learned more than I would have if I hadn’t taken this chance.  The risk paid off in the end when I earned the respect of my team and my colleagues and was promoted within a year of taking this role.

Say hello to Maria Shi on LinkedIn.

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As Operations and Marketing Manager, Angie Klein is responsible for maintaining the day to day operations of  Be Leaderly.com. Angie manages all aspects of training program logistics, registrations, SEO, financials,  monthly newsletter, social media engagement and customer service.

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