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An Iron Woman Takes on a New Role

An Iron Woman Takes on a New Role
Moving into a new role required overcoming key challenges.
Vistage helped one member find the confidence she needed.

When Nora Eberl and her cousin John Eberl assumed ownership of Eberl Iron Works, Inc., their family’s 94-year-old business in Buffalo, New York, she occasionally suffered from “imposter syndrome.” The light steel fabrication business makes specialty products, such as stair pans—steel forms into which the concrete is poured for a flight of stairs. It was a very different field from public accounting, where she had worked as a CPA.

“I had the feeling that people were going to see right through me and realize I didn’t know what I was doing,” recalls Eberl, chief financial officer of the firm.

It was Stan Wyner, Eberl’s coach at the leadership training and executive coaching group Vistage, who helped her understand that this was not uncommon for people new to executive roles and helped her realize she was well equipped to tackle her new role. “ I have a level of confidence in myself now,” says Eberl, who just marked her 19th year with the company.

That confidence has helped her collaborate with John, the firm’s CEO, to position Eberl Iron for fast growth since she joined Vistage five years ago. In that period, Eberl Iron, founded by her grandfather and his brother, has nearly tripled its revenue and doubled its headcount to 34 people.

One key lesson Eberl has learned in her Vistage group and in coaching sessions with Wyner is to delegate more. Once reluctant to take the time to train her team so she could hand off projects, she has begun to do just that, with the group’s encouragement. In case she slips back into old habits, she now has a sign near her desk that asks, “Can anyone else do this? Is this the best use of my time?”

Eberl finds the one-on-one coaching sessions help keep her accountable for moving the business forward. To prepare for the one-on-one meeting, she fills out a form about her key concerns. It’s a task, she admits, that she sometimes views as she would a trip to the dentist’s office, but finds that it forces her to address important issues in the business. Wyner often reads between the lines to help her dig deeper. “He frequently veers off it and addresses what I haven’t put on there that I probably should have,” she says.

Eberl has often turned to Wyner for advice on other parts of her life, as well. Beyond being CFO, she is the mother of three children, ages 6 to 10. At one point, she found she wasn’t making much time for self-care. “He convinced me it wasn’t selfish to take care of myself,” says Eberl. She now has a standing desk so she is not sitting all day, does yoga, and, after a Vistage speaker inspired her, has taken up meditation.

Being nudged to think in new ways by Wyner and her fellow members hasn’t always been easy, says Eberl, but she is up for it. “You’ve got to be invested in developing yourself and constantly moving forward,” she says. “It can be painful at times, but the end result is really worth it.”

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