Barbara Sugg on the Merit of Authenticity

On April 1, 2020, Barbara Sugg became president and CEO of Southwest Power Pool, the not-for-profit electric grid market manager based in Little Rock.

The early days of COVID-19 were a time of uncertainty. Sugg focused on prioritizing employees’ health and well-being. “I just feel like if you don’t do that, first and foremost, your business will suffer,” she said. 

Sugg said the best leaders are those who know where to find the answers. “There are a lot of people that believe they have to have an answer for every question that gets asked,” she said.

Leaders must be “authentic, to be appropriately vulnerable, and … incredibly genuine,” she said.

Sugg said that one of her biggest management regrets was avoiding conflict and not giving direct feedback soon enough. “I wanted to give people enough time to figure it out [and] to work through whatever issue they were having,” she said. 

But she said that she realized that by being candid — “still very kind and tactful, by the way, not just blurting it out” — that feedback helped the people who needed it. 

“It’s liberating to actually give people prompt feedback,” Sugg said. “They can do something with it more promptly, and I’m not carrying it around with me as a distraction or as a burden anymore.”


This article originally appeared in Arkansas Business as part of “Lessons Learned: Women in Business Offer Leadership Advice,” a story highlighting eight women in leadership positions across Arkansas. Read it in full here.


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