Supporting and Growing a Talented Team: 2 Women Share What It Takes to Be a Leader

Sponsored by Achieve

Terri Candelaria and Lindsey Ardale

Photos courtesy of Achieve

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May 25, 2024 at 7:46PM UTC

At Achieve, people are valued throughout the company — and this culture is aided by leaders who ensure that their direct reports are well supported and welcomed throughout their time at Achieve.

For instance, Terri Candelaria, Achieve Sr. Director of Facilities Management, ensures that her direct reports feel well-supported by ensuring that she spends one-on-one time with each direct report daily. “I know about their families and challenges and work with them closely to ensure they have the support they need to achieve mental and physical well-being and balance,” shares Candelaria.

As for Lindsey Ardale, Employer Brand and Recruitment Marketing Manager at Achieve, she actively looks out for when her direct reports are stressed. And, when they are, she asks how she can help. “When I hear of things happening in their personal life, I encourage them to take time off,” explains Ardale. “The work will get done, and we are one team.”

In this Q&A, we spoke with Candelaria and Ardale about their own career journeys and what it takes to succeed as a leader who is a pillar of support for her team.

What’s the No. 1 thing you hope your direct reports are getting out of working with you?

Candelaria: I hope they’ll become experts at their craft, be able to improve their skillset and know they’re trusted and valued members of our organization.

Ardale: I want to be a leader, not a manager. You lead, guide and grow people, and, regardless of your title, you can be a leader and will always have a voice.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Candelaria: I’m a servant leader. I remove obstacles, empower action and demand service excellence.

Ardale: I want my team to put themselves and their families first, not work. Work will always be here, and life is but a vapor, gone in a second. When they can focus on their family and themselves, they’ll be less stressed at work.

What’s one strategy you’ve used when managing that’s been particularly effective?

Candelaria: I work to build trust with each team member. I do what I say I'm going to do, and I hold my team accountable to the same standards. Everyone pitches in when we're short, and we all do what it takes to ensure that our tasks and projects are completed on time and on budget with excellence. My team knows that I don’t ask them to do anything I’m not willing to do myself.

I recognize my team’s efforts, pay them for the value they provide, offer autonomy and look for opportunities to stretch their abilities, including giving them lots of chances to fail while they learn.

Ardale: Autonomy, flexibility and trust. I trust them to get the job done regardless of what they do for work, where they work and when they work.

While building your team at Achieve, what surprised you most?

Candelaria: A great interview with a successful candidate isn't always the best way to get the best hire. I hired some people who didn’t make the grade and had to correct the mistake.

Ardale: People want a leader who really cares and partners with them. That’s a rare trait these days. People I hired said that they would take less pay to join my team with me as their leader. Since I passed the TA team to a new leader, who is AMAZING, several people have asked to join my current team just so I can be their leader again.

What is your No. 1 piece of advice for other women who are moving into or want to move into leadership?

Candelaria: Ask for what you want! You won’t get it if you don't ask, and all they can say is no. No one ever lost a job offer by asking for exactly what they wanted. Men ask all the time, and women need to get comfortable asking, too.

Ardale: Be your authentic self and do not try to change to be like other leaders. Lead with your mind and heart.

What’s been your most valuable career mistake?

Candelaria: Not taking a risk and leaving a role I was good at and comfortable in. Playing it safe stunted my career to some degree.

Ardale: Getting too comfortable in a role. Early on in my career, I made it my identity. My identity should not be in my career or my personal status. My identity is in Christ. I remember one night before my husband and I had our son, I made dinner and we were eating at the table and my laptop was next to me while I was still working — at 9 p.m. My husband looked at me and asked me if I married him or my company. Fifteen years later, I still hear that and make sure work does not lead my life.

Ardale and family. Photo courtesy of Achieve

What has enabled you to develop and advance your career?

Candelaria: I produce excellent results, hire and lead great teams, and I do what I say I’m going to do by executing consistently on time and on budget and delighting my customers.

Ardale: You need to work for a company and leader who have values that align with yours and see the value in you and your skillset. I equate the workforce to a professional relationship. Find a place that respects and values you, and you will flourish and your heart will be filled — don't worry about filling your pocketbook.

Further, I let my work speak for itself — I don't speak for my work. Leadership sees and values it if you’re at the right company.

What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?

Candelaria: I took a role where the company moved me to a union shop where I led 55 men. I was there for 2.5 years, and I really changed the organization for the better in a tough environment.

Ardale: Retiring. After 13 years at an F1 company, they had huge layoffs, but I was blessed to get a different role. I asked my future boss about his values, his idea of work-life balance and how he would balance the huge workload with a smaller team. He said life happens after all the work is done and that none of the work would change. He also shared that he would “steal” his employees’ work and present it as his own. That’s not the leader I want to be or support. So I left.

Who is/was the most influential person in your professional life?

Candelaria: Greg Vargo, my first leader. He recognized something in me and made me a facilities planner with zero experience. But I learned quickly and moved through the Facilities ranks with ease.

Ardale: There are three: 

  1. Antonine Jenkins, who hired a young woman in a professional role while giving me the flexibility to continue to go to college full-time. He believed in me and always had my back.

  2. John Bigan was an amazing advocate, trusting and valuing me enough to bring me in and say, “Let's solve this together.

  3. Heather Marcom, who saw the gap in my resume but has continued to support me.

How has Achieve and your help set you up for success?

Candelaria: Achieve is employee-oriented. My manager trusts me to take care of my customers and the company's needs.

Ardale: It’s not managing people that’s hard — it’s learning how the company works and handles things to ensure you don't step outside of their philosophy and values.

What is your favorite perk about working at Achieve?

Candelaria: I have the freedom to attend to important family matters without fear of reprisal.

Ardale: I’m 100% remote and have flexibility with my schedule.

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