What does is take to be a successful leader in flooring? Elizabeth Hurley, vice president of home centers and national accounts, Shaw Industries, shared some insights during a question-and-answer session at the Shaw Flooring Network Convention in Orlando, Florida. Here are five insights based her experiences. 

Q: We often find ourselves pulled between work and home. How do you find that balance? Are there any secrets? 

Hurley: I don't think there's any secrets. I wish there were. I wish I had a crystal ball. I think one of the things that's a problem is that we all talk about balance. It's something that we're trying to achieve at all times. I think it's extremely stressful for women to try to do that. We have so much going on in our work lives and our home lives, and then we try to hit this holy grail of balance. It's about letting go. It's about saying, "I can't do everything."

And so, if I can't pick up my kid at the soccer game, I call one of my friends. I travel quite a bit, and my husband and my son are my support team. It doesn't just have to be someone within your own family. It can be someone within this larger family that you can count on to try to get to that balance. 

Q: What are your lessons learned, and how have you changed your approach as a senior leader?

Hurley: I don't want to get this wrong because when I was looking through the audience before when the bright lights weren't on me, I saw younger women, younger children, actually little girls out there. I think the most important thing for women leaders is to ask for what you want. I think that a lot of times we don't necessarily say what we want because we're behind the scenes, and I think it's really important to say, "This is what I want to do."

The second thing—and it takes a while to get this when you're first in your career—but have confidence in being yourself. Sometimes we try to be somebody else, but it's really your genuineness that you bring to the table that actually makes you unique and different.

The last thing is to have and be an advocate, right? You need to have advocates around you. As women in business, when you're the only woman sitting at the table, it can be a little bit daunting. You want to have those advocates that you can count on, that you can reach out to. And not just other women—they're great advocates and we all have to lift each other up—but also men who are maybe going into some of the rooms that we're still not invited to.

Q: What's your greatest achievement? 

Hurley: Here's what I'll say first: it hasn't come yet. I think my greatest achievement is still to come. And I certainly hope that because as we move forward and we're building on what we'd like to do to change in 2023 and beyond, to make this network a stronger network and Shaw Industries stronger. 

Q. Why Flooring? Why does this industry interest you?

Hurley: I did not grow up in the industry; like so many women that I would've loved to. I hear your stories and it would be be so cool to be out on that expo floor. People were saying I'm going to bring my children and we're going to go on the show floor. You don't see that at conventions. It's really exciting to bring family in.

My father was in property management, my mom was in design. I loved to design, and everybody always told me, well, you're either going to be in sales or you can be a flight attendant. I enjoy learning and the leadership part of it has been really fun for me—to see people grow within the industry, to be a mentor for some of the people that are growing up in the industry.

Q. How did your time at Interface, Tarkett and Kimble prepare you for your current role at Shaw?

Hurley:  That's a good question. Life is a sum of all experiences, right? As you grow in your career, you're learning to be responsive, you're learning to follow through. I think follow through, especially for businesses, is so important. It's why people keep coming back. It's why they keep coming through the doors. It's not about me; it's about the sum of all the people. I've learned to meet all these mentors and friends and people that you can call on if you have needs. Now I can bring that to Shaw and bring the differences that I've learned and hopefully share some new experiences.