Heather (Albright) Jones was the first woman and youngest president Bank of America had in the Arkansas market when she was named to the position in March 2021.
Jones said that she was fortunate to work for three years alongside her predecessor, Donnie Cook, before stepping into the role. One piece of advice he gave her: You will never make everyone happy all the time.
“As a self-proclaimed people pleaser, this was hard for me to accept,” she said via email. “He advised that this was the most challenging part of the job, but the realization of this reality allows you to be an even better leader.”
She said that one of the most critical things a leader can do is “listen to your team. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting to know your team and building strong relationships.”
Once a leader learns the team’s skills, then “when the opportunity arises, you can lean on them for projects, give them leadership exposure and help them grow their careers.”
Her toughest management challenge in her first year was feeling “as though I had to focus on getting everyone to take me seriously,” Jones said. “We have a lot of tenured employees; some have been with the bank longer than I have been alive.”
But she said that once she moved past her initial imposter syndrome, “I had the confidence to represent the work well, knowing I was doing my best to benefit the team, our clients and the community.”
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.