Effective leaders create a workplace where all employees are welcome and respected. This creates a positive atmosphere which in turn will make your organization more innovative, productive and enjoyable to work in.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Chamberlain.

As a successful business owner and entrepreneur, Maria Esther Chamberlain has made a name for herself in the world of facility maintenance. Her company Acuity Total Solutions provides services From Dirt to Data™ including Custodial, Landscaping, Networking, and Cybersecurity solutions.

As a female minority in a male-dominated industry, Maria has faced her fair share of challenges, but she has never let that hold her back. Maria is dedicated to providing high-quality services to her clients and is always looking for new ways to innovate and improve.

With her determination and drive, Maria has built a thriving company that is known for its excellence and professionalism. She is proud to be a role model for other women and minorities in the business world and is committed to helping others achieve their dreams.

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

I am thrilled to be expanding my services into the IT field and offering a range of IT support to both the government and private sector. Diversifying my business and exploring this new arena brings new challenges and opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally.

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

Growing up in poverty, I found inspiration in the life of Abraham Lincoln and his journey from humble beginnings to ultimate success. Setting politics aside, his leadership style and philosophy, which emphasized perseverance, commitment, and hard work while staying true to one’s convictions and moral standards, have greatly influenced my approach to professional situations.

One of my favorite Lincoln quotes, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm,” embodies this philosophy and serves as a reminder that success is achievable through determination and hard work.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

One of my biggest learning experiences as a leader was realizing that trying to do everything alone was a mistake. I used to be very hands-on and controlling, but as I matured as a leader, I discovered the value of delegation and trust in others.

This led me to find talented individuals who have become essential members of my team. Furthermore, I learned that being an effective leader doesn’t necessarily mean having all the answers, but rather having the wisdom to listen, learn, and seek advice from others.

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

As I have grown and gained more experience in leadership roles, my definition of leadership has evolved and become more nuanced.

To me, being a leader now means not just setting a vision and guiding the team towards it, but also having the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills to connect with each team member on a personal level. It requires a balance between driving results and creating a positive work environment, where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute their best work.

Ultimately, being a leader now means recognizing that leadership is a dynamic and evolving process, and being open to learning, growth, and adapting to the changing needs of your team.

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

It is important to realize that the definition of leadership evolves with the times, and what worked in the past may not be effective in the present. That being said, one legacy leadership behavior I stopped is the “command and control” approach.

I realized that this type of leadership, which relied on dictating orders and expecting strict obedience, no longer works in today’s fast-paced and dynamic business environment.

Instead, I now focus on fostering a culture of collaboration and open communication, where I can work alongside my team and be more hands-on in finding solutions to problems. This new approach has proved to be more effective and has helped me to better connect with my team and lead them to success.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

Cultivating Emotional Intelligence is one lasting leadership behavior I believe is valuable and relevant. In today’s rapidly changing world and after the impact of the pandemic, it is more important than ever for leaders to have a strong handle on their emotions and be able to manage the emotions of others.

As a leader, having a high degree of emotional intelligence allows you to anticipate potential emotionally charged situations and make strategic decisions that build trust and confidence in your team. I have found that investing in my emotional intelligence has had a positive impact on both my personal and professional life, making it a valuable and relevant behavior that I will continue to cultivate and refine.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

It’s important to stay open-minded and humble, be willing to adapt and evolve as circumstances change. Embrace change as an opportunity to grow and improve.

Don’t be afraid to allow yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and welcome new ideas and perspectives from others. Encourage and support your team in their own personal and professional journeys.

Lastly, don’t stop studying! There are so many resources available today. Guidance from mentors and peers through leadership workshops and conferences are very helpful to continuously improve and refine your leadership skills.

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

The greatest advice I can offer emerging leaders is the advice I was once given: “To lead others successfully, you must be able to lead yourself.”

To do that, you have to establish and follow your own principles and values. If you can’t lead yourself you will find it a challenge to lead others.

Second, you need to know your mission and lead by example. Ask yourself why you lead. Be the leader you would choose for yourself.

Third, find an exemplary leader that is willing to share his/her knowledge and make them your mentor.

Most importantly, take time to examine yourself, your values, and your attitudes towards others, and be open to change and growth. Seek out opportunities for learning and development, and embrace feedback from those around you. Create a supportive work environment where your team feels valued and heard, as their success is tied to your success as a leader. Continuously work on self-improvement, stay open to new ideas, and never stop learning.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now?

My experience has made it clear to me that the top five traits an effective leader exemplify are:


Social media and emerging technologies are reshaping the way business is done.

Adaptable leaders must evolve with the changes and stay up to date.


Embrace technology! Today’s workforce, comprised of Gen Z-ers, have been raised on technology. Leaders must use social media to advertise their organization, their mission and job openings within.


Effective leaders create a workplace where all employees are welcome and respected. This creates a positive atmosphere which in turn will make your organization more innovative, productive and enjoyable to work in.

Communication Skills:

Effective leaders communicate clear growth plans. In turn, motivated team members have clear in mind what to shoot for. This will enhance their performance which will then deliver results.

Positive Feedback:

Giving and receiving positive feedback benefits everyone involved. Positive feedback should be well thought-out with specific examples given whenever possible. This will assist the one receiving feedback to continue applying methods that work.”

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

“I try to “make each day my masterpiece” by first, being fully engaged in the order of the day with enthusiasm.

But my daily masterpiece is created by spending time developing strong business relationships.

For example, I have a challenging client who manages one of my smaller contracts. This client is a bit “rough around the edges.” It’s not uncommon for this individual to make hostile demands with a raised voice.

At first I thought it would be best to avoid this client at all cost. After all, the contract is not that sizeable and I have bigger fish to fry.

But I quickly readjusted my thinking. Having a contract, even a small one, is better than no contract at all.

So I determined to foster a professional relationship focused on appreciation. Although this was initially difficult, in time it paid dividends.

Not long after, in fact, I was awarded a large contract by this very client.

I learned that the business relationship I had fostered with this individual played a key role in this award.

The fact is what you gain tomorrow will depend on the time you spend building your masterpiece today.”

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

“As an entrepreneur, my legacy will be the organization I developed from the ground up, Acuity Total Solutions, Inc.

However, to me it goes far beyond that. I desire to leave a thriving organization who’s culture is defined by the continuous distribution of intellectual capital amongst team members and leaders alike.

In addition, I aspire to leave behind the memory of being a leader who led with integrity, dedication and understanding while remaining true to my values, displaying the courage of my convictions and keeping my fellow men in view.”

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

You can visit our website www.acuityts.com for our contact information. I can also be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone by calling (800) 987–1159.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!