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5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team, With Anne Chow, President of AT&T National Business”

My movement would be all about “busting biases.” I believe that much strife in this world is brought about because of biases.


My movement would be all about “busting biases.” I believe that much strife in this world is brought about because of biases. Some of these biases are conscious and out in the open. Many are not. Regardless of what the characteristic, dimension, or root of the bias is — religious, political, cultural, ethnic, gender, functional, generational, geographic, visual — if we could help others and ourselves surface these biases in ways that are constructive, versus destructive, we would be able to build a stronger foundation of respect and trust. We could then move onto understanding — and perhaps even appreciation — realizing that what makes us strongest is our differences. And these differences create richness in our lives and spark innovation, while also helping each of us to grow on a very personal level.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Chow. Anne is the president of National Business for AT&T Business. Anne leads more than 12,000 business professionals who support over 95 percent of AT&T’s business customers nationwide. Across numerous AT&T Business segments, she oversees customer experience, management of direct and indirect sales channels, call center support, and DIRECTV for BUSINESS℠. She also owns the P&L for the small and medium-sized business market, covering over $13B in annual revenues. Anne is passionate about education, culture transformation, diversity and inclusion, the advancement of women in STEM and developing the next generation of leaders. Anne holds B.S., M.B.A. and M.Eng. degrees from Cornell.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

My backstory starts with my parents. I’m a second generation American whose parents met through a matchmaker in their native country of Taiwan. My mother — who from the beginning was the driving force in our family — told my father that she would marry him only if they emigrated to the United States. They whole-heartedly believed that America was the land of hope and perfect place to raise a family.

In the 1960s, they left all they had ever known — with less than $500 USD to their name and without a command of the language — to head to a country where they knew no one. But they knew that this was not only the land of hope but the land of limitless possibilities. We didn’t have much growing up, but my parents were determined to give us every opportunity possible to pursue the proverbial “American Dream.” For my family, the foundation of that ‘Dream’ was — and still is — education and service. As my dad describes it, “be good” and “do good.”

I started with AT&T as a network architect after finishing business school. Since then, I’ve served in 16 different roles at AT&T, across a wide variety of organizations and functions. The majority of my jobs have been in enterprise, or business-to-business, markets around the country serving clients across the globe.

The life lessons from my parents reside at my core, especially their commitment to hard work, dedication to community, graceful courageousness and belief that you can absolutely do and be anything you aspire to be. I have a healthy dose of their “immigrant paranoia” as well, which shapes my approach to both the personal and professional aspects of my life; always cognizant to work various scenarios, creating options and optimizing choices.


Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

In my current role, I have the opportunity to serve business customers of all shapes and sizes across numerous industries. So, my day job is always interesting. With the technology solutions we offer, the sparks of innovation are all around me. It’s one of the key reasons why I love working at, what I call, “the intersection of people and technology.”

Perhaps one of the more interesting recent stories was when I had the impromptu opportunity to interview Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys in front of hundreds of our dealers. While I now live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and “America’s Team” has been a client of mine in the past, I’ll admit that I’m not that savvy when it comes to football. I knew that there was no way I could pull off a traditional interview, waxing poetic about the ins and outs of his game. So, I decided to shape our conversation around leadership and his unique perspective.

Afterward, several audience members told me they didn’t know this impressive young man has both undergraduate and graduate degrees and aspires to pursue his doctorate. Till the interview, they did not fully appreciate his humility, his continued inspiration from his mom, who passed away while he was in school, or his commitment to the youth in our country. It was truly my pleasure to speak with him. I think it was eye-opening for the audience to see him in a different light — not only as a professional athlete, of course — but as a leader off the field as well, in the community and as a role model for our youth. Reflecting on the experience, it’s a microcosm of what I truly enjoy doing: embracing diverse talent and enabling greatness in others.

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

I truly believe that life — including business — is all about relationships. It’s incumbent upon each of us to seek and foster meaningful ones. In leading and synchronizing large teams it’s imperative to deeply understand relationships to make the collective workgroup most effective. This includes those relevant ones that formed the past, current ones that shape the existing organizational dynamics and culture, and importantly those that should exist, those that have yet to be established, strengthened or transformed.

Hence, it’s about the people — as individuals and as teams. The strongest, most effective teams are aligned in their goals, filled with respect and trust and characterized by excellent relationships, built over time, person-by-person, with focus, interest and energy. As Jim Collins once said, it’s about having the right people in the right seats at the right time on the proverbial bus.


What is the top challenge when managing global teams in different geographical locations? Can you give an example or story?

The beauty of today’s market is that we are all living and operating in a global environment. By definition, every team has some degree of global flavor with diversity and inclusion being a paramount ingredient to success. Our strengths lie in our differences and the innovation which can result if teams are built, harnessed and enabled in the right way.

I see two top challenges when managing global teams. The most obvious one is the challenge of connecting with a team that literally spans the globe. While it’s typically easier to build relationships in person, fortunately, technology can now help us create proximity in creative ways. The second top challenge is around embracing cultural diversity, which includes surfacing and working through unconscious biases.

In my view, a solution to both challenges is role model communications. Communication is key to collaboration and camaraderie. Leaders must work hard, utilizing different mediums to be accessible, create connections and build alignment. A communications strategy must be multi-tiered, multi-faceted and, yes, engaging and entertaining at the same time. I view this as a lifelong growth area for me, and I’ve worked hard to develop my skills over time. For instance, I have become an avid blogger, posting every week for more than 8 years! I’ve also revamped my employee town halls and rotated locations, featuring a diverse line-up of speakers and topics. My approach even leverages social media across numerous platforms. It’s incredibly rewarding to get positive feedback from team members both inside and outside of the company who share that these communications have connected with them in meaningful and impactful ways.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

First, be real. People can tell when you’re not being you. Employees want and need to believe in and be inspired by their leaders. Trust, respect and confidence are foundational in order for this to be true. You want your employees to be at their best so they can bring their best every day. In order for them to do so, you must role model it for them.

Second, be clear. It’s imperative that your employees understand your mission and vision. It’s important they believe in the goals and objectives set forth. Obviously, it’s also critical that you’re clear about the unique value proposition that you’re seeking to deliver in the market — and that employees understand where they fit into the big picture and embrace what they have to do to be successful.

Third, be the culture. As has been said, culture trumps strategy every time. So, if you want your employees to thrive and be successful, realize and recognize that every member of your team has something unique to offer. As the leader, your job is to help them create and unleash the greatness in themselves, as well as ensure a culture that enables them to work together a constructive, collaborative way. That requires a focus on helping remove barriers day-to-day while also providing support for their ongoing development and growth. This way, they viscerally know success can be achieved — both in the short term and in the long term.

Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on retaining talent today?

I agree that when people quit their jobs, they’re often “quitting their managers” versus “quitting the company”. From personal experience, I believe that the big reason for this is that they feel stuck. Whether they are stuck in a toxic environment, have a lack of learning opportunities or believe they’re not realizing their fullest potential, they feel stuck. So, the question you should ask yourself is, “How do I ensure that my team and my people don’t ever feel stuck?”

There are obvious actions you can take, including coaching the coaches. Not everyone knows how to be a great manager or leader. You should also put in place programs and avenues for people to network and grow in ways additive to their “day jobs.” These could be mentor circles, employee resource groups and networks, or other development programs and networking opportunities. In a larger sense, you should also create a learning culture with a comprehensive set of programs and options, ranging from degree and certification-based programs to webinars and conferences. This demonstrates to your employees you are committed to investing in them, both in the short term and long term, and there are always options for them to grow. This will all help in ensuring they never feel so “stuck” that their only choice is to leave.

Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”.

  1. Collaboration and Communication are key. There is nothing done in this world that is done alone. Life is all about people and relationships. Those who will be most successful and make an impact on this world are able to collaborate and communicate. And in fact, they embrace the differences in others for the greater good — leveraging diversity and inclusion as a strategic advantage in their leadership approach. With so much technology available to us in the world today, it’s not uncommon to build strong relationships with people we’ve never met in person. This is only made possible through the beautiful and powerful art of communication. In my experience, the most amazing leaders have always possessed incredible communications skills — who through their words and actions have mastered both the art and science of connecting with and inspiring those around them.
  2. Great leaders have courage and humility. Great leaders possess the courage to know that they don’t know everything. They admit when they are wrong, and then seek out and do what’s right. Great leaders are brave enough to face their fears and challenges and work through them, always moving forward.
  3. “Work/Life balance” is bogus. Life isn’t meant to be lived in balance; it is an optimization equation. Throughout your life, you have a constantly evolving set of priorities to which you are optimizing your time by making thoughtful choices. The first step is to be really be clear on what success looks like for you and what your true priorities are. Know that these will most likely shift over time. Exemplify this for your people. Embrace and share those “no do-over moments.” As an example, I was hosting a set of C-level clients at the Kentucky Derby, a my daughters were testing for their second-degree black belts in taekwondo that same weekend. Obviously, that was something I could not miss. So, I left the Derby early and my customers were totally understanding and supportive. Know, respect and embrace the fact that your team members have lives.
  4. Your role is to be a servant leader. Leadership is not about you, it’s about those around you. I feel that my role, no matter the person or the situation, is to help others be their best selves. Ultimately, as a leader, your role is to enable and support the team.
  5. Pay it forward: Be a mentor — and a coach — and a sponsor. Mentorship, coaching, and sponsorship have played a vital role for me — both in terms of my own journey, but more critically in how I’m able to support and enable the journey of others.


You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement would be all about “busting biases.” I believe that much strife in this world is brought about because of biases. Some of these biases are conscious and out in the open. Many are not. Regardless of what the characteristic, dimension, or root of the bias is — religious, political, cultural, ethnic, gender, functional, generational, geographic, visual — if we could help others and ourselves surface these biases in ways that are constructive, versus destructive, we would be able to build a stronger foundation of respect and trust. We could then move onto understanding — and perhaps even appreciation — realizing that what makes us strongest is our differences. And these differences create richness in our lives and spark innovation, while also helping each of us to grow on a very personal level.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My absolute favorite quote of all time is “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.” ~Gandhi

This is how I strive to live my life. It is how I go about my work and how I shape my priorities. I believe that change happens one person at a time and that each one of us has a unique opportunity to make a difference, whether it be at work, at home, in our communities, across society at large or in whatever scope of purpose we feel most passionate about. This quote compels us all to look outside to spark something within. It encourages us to consider that our impact can be much greater than we think, having us consciously reflecting on our own unique legacy. It compels us to be a catalyst for positive change and inspires us to be committed to transformation, both for ourselves and, more importantly, for others.

Originally published at medium.com

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