Leadership Spotlight: Meet Tiffany

Tiffany McGowen is the vice president of recruiting at Paycom. We asked Tiffany to share her leadership journey with us and the wisdom she’s learned along the way.

What made you want to be a leader?

I wanted to see others exceed their own expectations, and I truly feel blessed when I have the opportunity to serve others.

I also enjoy challenging people. Great leaders don’t shy away from tough conversations. I want people to know they are loved and valued. That doesn’t happen by only giving pats on the back.

Inspiring someone to work through a difficult situation, to think of a creative solution or accomplish what was once deemed an impossible task is one of the most rewarding moments you can have. I have always personally been inspired by people who did not give up when the going got tough. Ultimately, I believe that good things are going to happen, and I want to help others find a way to believe that for their world, too.

Did you have a mentor?

No, not formally. I believe I can learn something from everyone I meet.

How did they impact your career?

I was raised in a very modest home, and my family, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were all hard workers. Both male and female modeled a strong work ethic and very high morals. I was abundantly blessed to have a faith-based upbringing and was taught that anything short of your personal best is not acceptable!

What skills do you feel have made you an effective leader?

  • I am not afraid of conflict. I actually find immense value in reasonable conflict.
  • I welcome constructive feedback.
  • Ability to prioritize and say “no” when a request or ask does not align with my priorities or values.
  • I am confident in myself and my ability to reason in a rapidly changing environment.
  • I will apologize or humbly “eat crow” when I need to.
  • I make time for myself and my family so that work does not consume me.
  • I am comfortable letting others take credit for wins.
  • I can think long term in the midst of a storm – meaning, I am okay if I lose a battle, as long as I win the war.
  • My team knows that I would never ask them to do anything that I would not do myself. They also know they will never “outwork” me.
  • I tell my team what they mean to me, the business and the impact they have on a regular basis.
  • I look at character, integrity, work ethic, skills and motivations when hiring . I always look for the best person for the job.
  • I believe in surrounding myself with people that are better than me!

What made you want to be a leader at Paycom?

Our CEO – I knew he was a strong leader that would 100% find a way to win. That’s the type of person I want to go to war with!

What’s the hardest part of being a leader?

I think this varies based on what level of leader you are and the maturity of the business you are leading in.

  • Balancing being really positive and motivating the majority of the time but still allowing employees to see that you can be real and have emotions.
  • Being empathetic to how hard their job really is but still managing an employee to get the results the business needs.
  • In fast-growing or newer organizations, working on communication across departments to help bring a consistent message around the vision. Messaging should allow everyone to understand where resources, be it manpower or dollars, should be focused when there is a shortage or crunch-time project.
  • For brand-new leaders, it is figuring out what to stop doing, start doing and continue doing. Ask for help in this area!

What’s your favorite part of being a leader?

When someone has really grown after a year of tough coaching and feedback conversations walks into your office and says, “Thank you for challenging me and making me better.” Then they ask, “Do you have any other feedback for me?” They ask because they genuinely want it, knowing you love them enough to shoot them straight, and they trust that you have their best interest in mind, so they take the feedback or advice and work to apply it!

What advice do you have for anyone who is interested in leadership?

Know your “why”! A lot of people think that is the only way they can get promoted or make more money. You need to understand what a career path really looks like in that professional field. It isn’t fair to the people you will be leading if you are not doing it for the right reasons. It would be better for you to leave and go to another company that has better training and development and defined technical career paths than to go the leadership route and hate it.

What characteristics do you look for in potential leaders?

  • Ability to adapt quickly and positively to change.
  • They have faced adversity and failure and survived to tell the story.
  • Someone who is confident in their own skin. Recruiting requires someone who can take tough feedback over and over and over again from people they work with and care about. Sales is another role where they get told “no” a lot, but it is from strangers, so it is a lot easier pill to swallow.
  • Humility, hunger to keep learning and growing and intelligence (EQ not IQ) are characteristics we focus on at Paycom.
  • Strong personal brand.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Someone who is genuinely inquisitive.
  • Discernment, because you have to weed through a lot of different communication styles to get to the real message at times.
  • Willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of the business.
  • They need to be a winner – meaning, they have won, they know what it takes to win and they aren’t afraid to put in the work to win again.