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Trailblazing Paths in Business: Lessons from a Female Leader in Franchising

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By Jania Bailey  

It’s always a prime time to reflect on one’s journey and the lessons learned along the way. From my beginnings at a small bank in Kentucky to now serving as the CEO of an international franchise, my path has certainly been full of unexpected turns, especially as a woman leader in a traditionally male-dominated field. But these experiences are what shaped my approach to both leadership and business.

The Long and Winding Road

My career began as a secretary in the banking industry. With determination and an eagerness to learn, I worked my way up through various departments, gaining extensive knowledge about the banking sector. An opportunity soon arose to become a management trainee in commercial lending. Despite warnings about the risks and challenges of this role—if I failed, it would have been a major setback—I embraced the opportunity and dove in headfirst.

This decision proved to be one of the best I ever made, leading to a rewarding and fruitful 18-year career in banking. I ultimately left the industry as the vice president of a large regional bank, where I managed a significant division of commercial activities. The journey from a secretary to a vice president was an extraordinary and fortunate progression in my career.

After my tenure in banking, I ventured into entrepreneurship, founding a consulting and training company focused on customer service. During this time, one of my clients—a franchisee and regional owner of a hair care company—offered me a position as regional director, overseeing operations across five states. I accepted this role and spent over six years in it before transitioning to the corporate office of the franchisor.

It was around this time that I first encountered FranNet after making some connections with the team. This led to an incredible opportunity to join the FranNet family in 2006 as president and COO, and eventually as CEO in 2015.

Now, 17 years later, I reflect on this decision with immense satisfaction and a sense of wonder at the unexpected turns my career has taken.

A Unique Leadership Perspective

Entering the world of franchising, I quickly realized that being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry came with unique challenges. However, it also offered a chance to bring a different perspective to the table.

As a female leader, my approach to leadership is inherently anchored in honesty, straightforwardness and transparency. I believe that sharing information openly builds trust and strengthens relationships within the team. My management style reflects what I always yearned for in a leader throughout my career: flexibility and a balanced give-and-take dynamic.

At FranNet, I encourage my team to prioritize family time and attend important events in their children’s lives, for example. However, when faced with tight deadlines or significant projects, I expect them to reciprocate by committing extra effort. This mutual flexibility is crucial for our collective success. Being selective about the workplace culture you commit to can make a significant difference in achieving a healthy work-life balance, especially for women who may not have someone to pick up the children from school or take care of the home like men often do.

Advice for Female Business Leaders

My core advice to women embarking on their entrepreneurial journey or stepping into leadership roles is to remain authentic to themselves. It’s important to realize that women don’t need to emulate male leadership styles—we have our unique approaches and strengths. Trusting our intuition, which is often more finely tuned than we give ourselves credit for, is key.

Acknowledging our weaknesses is equally important, and we should focus on building teams that complement and enhance our skill sets. This approach not only fosters personal growth but also contributes to a more robust and dynamic business environment.

In terms of diversity and inclusion, I prioritize hiring based on merit and alignment with our organizational culture, rather than merely filling quotas. At FranNet, we strive to create a level playing field, offering equal opportunities to all, irrespective of gender or other factors. This approach has fostered a more inclusive and effective workplace, where the best talents are recognized and nurtured.

Looking forward, I believe the future is bright for women in business. We are seeing more female leaders emerging, bringing change and innovation across industries. As we continue to break barriers and support each other, we pave the way for the next generation of women leaders. Let’s embrace our unique strengths and continue to inspire change in the business world.

Jania Bailey joined FranNet in August 2006 as president and COO while the company was transitioning to new ownership, and assumed the role of CEO in 2015. Under her leadership, she led the company through unprecedented growth and has established FranNet as the most respected voice in the franchise consultant industry in North America. Bailey served on the Executive Board of Directors for the International Franchise Association (IFA) for six years and is a certified franchise expert.

Read more articles for the women community here.

The post Trailblazing Paths in Business: Lessons from a Female Leader in Franchising appeared first on DiversityComm.

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