In May 1993, Sue Leffler began working at BTI as a receptionist. The company was fairly new at the time. They had been operating since 1985. 29 years later, Sue Leffler is President of the company, successfully leading a team of over 45 men and women.
“If someone would have told me 25 years ago that I’d be leading a trucking company, I would have thought they were crazy,” Sue exclaimed. “Especially because my background was in clerical and accounting when I initially began working at BTI.”
In her role with BTI, Sue could see areas that needed additional focus and attention to turn the dial and be accomplished. She had the capacity to do them and succeed. From there, one thing led to another. Sue began taking on extra work to support the managers to establish a better organization and improved efficiencies. She loved working with people and helping to make visible impacts toward improvements in operations.
This week as we celebrate American Business Women’s Day (Sept. 22), County 10 sat down with Sue to talk about her work at BTI and what advice she would give to other women trying to break through that glass ceiling in the workforce.
Describe your leadership style and how you “lead” others. Is it different from your male counterparts?
My leadership style focuses on working and empowering our team to work together. I never view our employees as working “for me,” instead I elevate the approach that we work together towards the greater good of our company. I expect honesty and hard work. I believe that good leadership shares in resiliency, persistence, and empathy and we should always be striving towards this.
As for my male counterparts, we actually have very similar leadership styles. However, I would say I am more deeply involved and integrated within the day-to-day operation, details, and inner workings of our team.
Who inspired you to be a leader?
My inspiration comes from an admiration of one of my aunts who was always a strong female role model, very independent, and successful in her career.
In your opinion, what factors impact a woman’s ability to lead others?
I believe there will always be an unconscious bias that impacts a woman’s ability to lead others, particularly within the circles of the trucking industry and a small town. While the barriers of this glass ceiling are slowly progressing, the challenge remains.
Also, I would say that as much as I love working with people, one thing I have learned over the years is difficult to be friends with your coworkers and be a leader as well. There is personal and there is business, and that is a very fine line in between.
Do women in your profession have a hard time getting promoted?
I haven’t experienced this in my career with BTI. I have worked with several women who are successful leaders in the upper management of other transportation companies both locally and nationally. I truly believe industry leaders welcome and embrace women leaders in the transportation field.
How do you balance your career, personal life, and passions? Is there such a thing as balance?
There has to be some balance, but often times it is very difficult to find. There have been times when my job has taken priority over my personal life.
What personal sacrifices have you made throughout your career?
A lot of lost sleep! Taking phone calls at all hours of the night – after all this is Wyoming and we experience difficult weather conditions that have a direct impact on the trucking industry.
I have had many challenging interpersonal relationships over the years with others who felt threatened by my dedication to the company.
What advice do you have for women looking to grow either their own business or within the company they work for?
My advice to other women is that you should always be the best you can be and keep your eye on the goal. Never underestimate the power that you have. With time and dedication, you can achieve many things. Learn your own strengths and weaknesses as you find areas to excel. When one door closes, another one opens, so be ready for these opportunities when they arise.
What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Shoot for the stars – dream big and work hard, the world is your oyster!
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
There may be a perception of it being “a man’s world,” but women are just as smart, strong, and equally great leaders. Find other women to connect with and empower one another.
What advice would you give to young women entering this profession/organization?
There are so many opportunities available. Women are compassionate leaders and treat others with empathy.
What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
Hire the best people you can and surround yourself with intelligent and strong individuals.
Sue’s daughter, Christi Russell now works alongside her mother at BTI.
Owned and operated for over 35 years by Wyoming families, BTI has provided excellent jobs and services thanks to the mineral wealth of the Rocky Mountain region. Interested in employment with BTI? Whether you’re a truck driver or a diesel mechanic, BTI is interested in you!
Click here for employment details.
- Competitive Wages and benefits
- Steady Work
- Return Home Daily
- Low traffic congestion
- Desirable Routes
- Well Maintained Equipment
- Safe Friendly Environment
- World Class Hunting and Fishing Area
- Cowboy Ethic