I am excited to tell you that earlier this year, I wrote a blog post, where I interviewed my colleague, Dave Gibson. You can read all about it here. I am excited to tell you that throughout 2017, I will be giving you a behind-the-scenes look and interviewing each member of our fantastic team. This month I would like to introduce you my friend, talented colleague and the person at Summit who has been training me over the last seven months, Mary Barry.
Hi Mary. Tell us about your journey. How did you find your way into Team Building and Team Development?
At my previous place of employment, I had a lot of opportunities to try on different “hats” and one of them revolved around Training and Development. It turned out to be a great fit. I loved seeing people reach those “aha” moments and realized it was something I not only loved, but that I was good at. When I left that organization, I stayed home with my very young children for a while but soon discovered Summit Team Building through some friends. I did some contract work for a while but as my kids grew, Summit grew, and it seemed a natural fit that I would join the company on a full-time basis. That was over a decade ago and the experiences I have had since then could fill a book.
In your spare time, what do you like to do for fun?
For the most part I am a home-body. I love to spend time with my now teenage boys and husband. We live on the lake and love to take long walks with our dog every chance we get. I also volunteer with the local rowing club doing anything from timing races, to announcing at major events. Jim and I have both rowed in the rec (wreck) league and both of our kids have rowed competitively for years. It’s a really great community to be involved with. I can’t even begin count the friends we have made through this sport. I also love to get away to a sunny and hot beach for a week during the winter without the likes of those boys and just spend some time relaxing and laughing with some girlfriends.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? How did this person impact your life?
Without a question, that would be my mom. She was a little ahead of her time I think and so was her mom. Professional, funny, hard working, and so much more. She also made time to do volunteer work that I was sometimes involved with and she is pretty much just an all-round awesome woman. They say you turn into your parents some day…I hope so.
How long have your worked for Summit? How did you and Scott Kress first meet?
I first started working here in 2003 with the company’s previous owner. When Scott bought the company, I was part of the deal. I think I met him in the conference room at work and I was not sure if I would like him… it turns out I do. He is a great leader and leads a pretty amazing life. He is very supportive of my decisions around how to manage work, life and, all of the little glitches that come along with both.
Do you have a favourite or memorable experience working with Summit?
Not one, but many. One that stands out is when a participant stood up and told me that this team building event was probably the dumbest thing they could do and that it was going to be a total waste of time. All of this was before I had uttered a word. We were upgraded to “OK ” by the time we were done. I call that a win.
Do you have a funny story from working with Summit?
One of our contract facilitators had a book called “Would You Rather?” It basically gives you two scenarios that are both ridiculous and asks which one you would choose….and you MUST choose. She read this to a van full of people on a long road trip to a program and at one point I had to make her stop reading because I was fearful that my uncontrollable laughter might drive us into a ditch.
What have you most enjoyed and appreciated about working with Summit?
Flexibility, autonomy and team support. Sometimes I like to steer my own ship but I know that I can always count on back up, guidance and other perspectives when I need them. You learn a lot from others’ point of views and in the end, we are all working together to grow as individuals and as a team.
How could you help a new employee (like me) understand the culture of our organization?
We all come from different backgrounds both personally and professionally. It is those experiences that makes our team richer and better able to relate to our clients. We don’t all say things the same way or act the same way. It’s about finding your voice and using it to build relationships. You wouldn’t be here if you had nothing to contribute – do it your way.
Do you have a favourite quote or axiom that you live by?
It’s easier to ask for forgiveness later than permission ahead of time (I’m a bit of a rebel they say).
What are some characteristics that you believe every leader should possess?
Compassion and optimism.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Coaching and supportive.
What are a few resources you could recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
What are the top three books you have read on leadership?
Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Dan Pink – A Whole New Mind.
Patrick Lencioni – Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
Diversity in the workforce. People in their 50’s and up have very different expectations than people in their 30’s and down. It is a tricky balancing act to make everyone happy and engaged.
In your opinion, how can leaders build stronger teams?
Spend some time to find out what makes everyone tick. It’s got to be deliberate and approached from a true desire to understand how you can leverage the strengths and desires that lie within your team. Identifying strengths help build better teams. Understanding desires helps a leader know how to motivate.
Thank you so much Mary.
I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. I learned so much from Mary. I value her honesty, humour and inspiration. And don’t you just want to meet her mom now? I know that I do.
Note: I borrowed some of the questions I asked Mary from this blog post