Tabatha Turman, army veteran, mother, author, and CEO of IFAS-LLC, supports Black women in hanging up the superwoman cape.
The hardworking mother of two learned to delegate while serving in the army and juggling her duties at home. When she retired from the military to launch her government consulting firm, which recently was awarded a $350M federal contract, she deepened her commitment to achieving balance amid burnout.
In her forthcoming book, Passion, Purpose, Drive P2D: Elements of a Growth Mindset, available on Dec. 6, Turman says doing less, not more, is the key to attaining the success we desire.
In an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Turman shares her solutions for burnout and the importance of why Black women should let go.
Why do you believe hanging up the superwoman cape is a major game-changer for Black women?
I think Black women have historically been relied upon in this country to work in supportive roles. We’re great at supporting others, and it can be easy to let that become our identities.
For some of us, it’s also tied to a scarcity mentality. We don’t always feel secure in our jobs or other roles, and we fear someone else may take our place if we allow support in. But trying to do it all is a recipe for burnout. At some point,t we’ll risk our families, relationships, or health, so it’s in our best interest to hang up the cape.
Don’t beat yourself up and feel bad about not being the one who is doing every single thing. You can achieve balance, but you’re going to have to give some things up.
What have you personally done when you found yourself overworking?
When growing my company, when I felt overworked, it was usually time to hire someone. Whether it’s at home or at work, I don’t feel bad about delegating what I don’t have the time to do. It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but once I freed myself from wanting to be everything to everyone, I found that I could be of more service to more people and make a bigger impact in my business and in my community.
At home, it started with me outsourcing housekeeping and other household tasks. In my business, when I landed my very first contract, I immediately hired someone to handle the human resource and talent management tasks so that I could go out and hunt down more business.
How did you learn how to delegate so effectively?
I learned from the military that when we work as a team collaboratively on one accord, we can succeed. Counting on other people was something I had to learn to do early on in my military career because my life was in their hands. But once you learn how to foster relationships of trust and know who will be there and have your back, it gets easier.
By my mid-30s, I was completely burnt out. Fortunately, I saw other mothers in my community who were able to find more time for themselves and their children because they were outsourcing some of the household tasks.
The very first thing I outsourced was yard work, then housework. Once I felt my load lighter,n I had so much more time and energy for things that were more impactful. It also made me feel good to support small businesses that needed customers.
How critical was delegation to you in launching and growing such a successful business and winning such sizable contracts?
To win a contract of that size, you must have a team in place, and you have to be committed. Most people don’t know that we’ve been laying the groundwork for that contract award for seven years.
Over that time, I’ve invested heavily in my team and delegated many aspects of that win to them. They’ve helped me build and manage relationships with contractors, market our business in new geographic regions, develop a winning proposal, and more. There is absolutely no way I could have done that alone.
In your book, you say delegation is the key to success; by doing less, we can get more. What are the first steps to effective delegation?
When I started my company, I immediately began to hire professionals to own areas of the business outside of my area of expertise. I know I don’t know everything, so I need smart people around me.
My job as the leader is to have a clear vision for the future and make sure that the team has the right resources and tools to execute it.
What advice do you have for Black women veterans and moms who want to pursue entrepreneurship in this capacity?
Figure out your next steps – look for the resources that are out there. Once you’ve identified the path you want to take, I’d say it comes down to making the most of your opportunities.
Next, be sure to develop your relationships. Build your brand and reputation in whatever field you’re in.
You have to know when it is time to bring in help. That may mean investing in experts to help you get where you need to be or seeking mentors who can give you key pointers to move faster.
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