Emery Federal Credit Union’s Shelly O’Neill shares her tips for balancing work, family, life and everything between

What is a “girl boss”? Think of a strong, confident, poised woman who balances work and family life, juggles soccer practice with board meetings, and who leads others to do just the same. She’s not perfect, but she strives to be her best self and recognizes that life is a balancing act. In the age of constant busyness, a girl boss works hard every day to be a strong leader, good partner and, in this case, a devoted mother.

Shelly O’Neill has spent 11 years at Emery Federal Credit Union, currently serving as Chief Operations Officer. She leads a team of nearly 40 people at the office and is a wife and mom of four at home. O’Neill strives to balance work and family life and admits it “takes a village to keep it all together.” She offers her tips for young women to follow their passions and rise to the top. Whether you’re a guy or a girl, anyone can take notes from this West Chester girl boss.

  1. Never ask employees to do something you wouldn’t do. “This is the #1 rule I live by. If I’m not going to do it, how do I have a right to ask someone else to? Whether it’s cleaning up spilled coffee or working on a project, I never ask my team to do something I wouldn’t do. This doesn’t mean doing everything by yourself. It’s important to delegate, trust your staff and make sure you have balance, but don’t expect them to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.”
  2. Learn to delegate. “You cannot do everything. As much as we want to do it all, you just can’t. You must trust your staff. It’s up to me to train my team and feel confident in handing off tasks to them.”
  3. Groom someone to take over for you. “Don’t be scared to coach others. Don’t be afraid of losing your job if you train someone else to do yours. You won’t be there forever. What if you’re sick or unexpectedly out of the office? Give people on your team the trust, confidence and skills to do your job.”
  4. Have passion. “Have passion for what you’re doing and be enthusiastic about it. Your employees will know if you’re not. Emery is all about building relationships, and I absolutely love doing that. I believe your passion comes through in the work you produce, and your team takes notice. Being able to build relationships and touching people’s lives is why I go to work every day, and I think my enthusiasm shows in my work.”
  5. Be empathetic. “Life happens. We all have a job to do; we all have certain expectations to meet, but just as I have a life, so does everyone else. Learn how to keep the lines of communication open between you and your employees so you can find solutions that work for both parties. Yes, I have a job to do, but I also try to be empathetic. It takes a village and lots of support to balance everything—not just in my life, but in everyone’s.”