In just a few short years, Cheryl Janey helped Harris Corporation grow more than 20 percent a year. Now she's bringing that same competitive edge to Northrop Grumman. As vice president of operations for the Information Systems sector’s Civil Systems division, Janey oversees a business sector worth $2.5 billion. “It was an offer I couldn't refuse,“ says Janey, who accepted the role in June 2009. Next up: Janey is busy tapping into the division's core strengths to build on solutions offered to federal, state, and local government customers.
Janey’s Top Tips:
- Accept that things happen. “Have a solid plan of what you want to accomplish, then be flexible to the dynamic nature of the work we do,“ says Janey. “Adjusting to competing but important priorities is the foremost role of a leader.“
- Play to your strengths. “It's incumbent on anyone, male or female, to recognize their strengths and choose assignments that play to them,“ says Janey.
- Know your limitations. “Be very honest with yourself about your limitations and surround yourself with people who are good at what you're not,“ says Janey. “That's been my mantra for years and it serves me well.“
- Show strength of conviction. “As leaders, we are looked to for those hard decisions ““ sometimes the right thing to do isn't always the easy one. By believing in our vision, we can get along and still show that strength at the same time ,“ says Janey.
What Janey is saying:
BEST CAREER ADVICE: “Share bad news. Someone told me a long time ago: “˜Never be the highest ranking person to know bad news.' I didn't understand what that meant at the time. Now that I'm in an executive position, I do. Very clearly. When times get tough you want a lot of people and different perspectives to come up with creative ideas and approaches. Sharing challenges up and across helps to build support, resources and focus to resolve difficult problems.“
LEADERSHIP STYLE: “My leadership style is one of, “˜Roll up your sleeves, let's pitch in, and work together.' I'm very participative in my style, not at all hierarchical. I think that, particularly in challenging situations, it's important you demonstrate you're part of the team, you're not just sitting back directing the show. I also like to solicit different points of view. Hearing those points of view, identifying new options, debating them and then reaching consensus, helps build a sense of ownership and buy-in amongst the team.“
WORK-LIFE BALANCE: “Balance doesn't happen in any one day, it occurs over time. So, widen the camera shot; you'll see that over a week or month we really can “” and do “” achieve balance. In my case, I constantly evaluate. There are sacred things professionally and personally that are non-negotiation points. If my son is performing at school, I'm going to be there. Similarly, if an executive council is being held at work, I'm going to be there.“
ON STAYING POSITIVE: “I train my brain with positive messages on an ongoing basis; from the moment I wake up in the morning. It could take the form of passwords or little sayings by my computer. I like to say, “˜Dream big dreams.' You may not reach your dreams, but you'll get further along than if you dream small ones. So dream big! Tell yourself “” tell your brain every day, in lots of ways “” the positive messages you want to hear and that you need to hear that strengthen you. I believe those words do penetrate in ways we can't even describe.“