The Leadership Spotlight continues this week with Barry Hardy. Barry is the team leader of the Customer Care Center for the Dave Ramsey organization. He has worked with Dave for more than eight years and in addition to his customer care duties, Barry has also been active in bringing to life “Junior,” the title character of Dave Ramsey’s six children’s books.
Prior to working for The Lampo Group, Barry taught elementary school and high school for 14 years. He is very active at church and has been on six mission trips to Novosibirsk, Siberia…during the winter! Ask him about what a Russian winter is like — he should be used to it!
Barry was born and raised in Maine, then moved to Tennessee where he attended Lipscomb University and received a bachelor’s degree in education, theater and psychology. He completed his master’s degree in education at Indiana University. He and his wife, Debbie, have coordinated Financial Peace University classes for more than nine years, and they live in LaVergne, TN, with two of their three sons. His speaking engagements include motivational and ministerial speaking throughout the United States at churches, schools and business organizations. He also speaks at conventions and workshops teaching families how prepare themselves and their children to handle money matters.
When not at work, you can find Barry producing and directing shows as The Swan Performing Arts Center, a non-profit, 501c3 community theater. Barry is the President of the Christian-based, family oriented organization in operation now for two years.
CLo: What is your role in leadership?
BH: To continue to challenge, mentor and encourage my team to the benefit of the entire company.
I want my advisors to not only be better at what we do, but also to better themselves personally. While I want people on my team to enjoy what they do and desire to stay, I want them to prepare themselves for their next step, whatever that might be. As I mentor and encourage them to be better customer advocates and sales people, I want to do what I can to help them reach their professional and personal goals. If they feel that everything they do benefits them for the future, they will be happier and more productive in the present.
CLo: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about leadership?
BH: Don’t ask of anyone anything that you are not willing to do yourself. I’m not on the phones much anymore, but if I needed to be I could and would. I stay abreast of everything they have to know as an advisor. This helps me as a leader to see things through the advisor’s eyes which helps me see what areas need refocusing, changing, updating, etc. It also gives the advisors a comfort level if they encounter something different. They know that I will either know the answer or be able to find it for them quickly. There are also times when, for the good of the department, we have to other types of work, such as loading and unloading, cleaning, restocking, etc. These things take up time and aren’t that much fun. As a leader, I’m right there in the middle of it with them. I do delegate, but they know that if I am not there with them, it is because I’m tied up with something that needs my attention and not that I just don’t want to get my hands dirty.
CLo: What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
BH: Keeping your team focused on the goal when there are so many distractions affecting their lives. With the variety of calls we get in a day, it’s easy to get discouraged on slow days or be overwhelmed on busy days. While many of our calls are upbeat and generate sales for the advisors, many more are serious and often depressing. You have to work at staying on your game. There are also many personal things that happen to all of us that can get in our way if we are not careful. Spending individual time with the advisors helps me understand them and assist where I can to help them stay on track at work.
CLo: How do you continue to improve yourself as a leader?
BH: Reading and picking the brains of other leaders. I do a lot of listening and watching. You can learn a great deal if you just keep your mouth shut and tune in to what’s going on around you. Watching other leaders and how they work with their teams helps me tremendously. I have three leaders here who I will sit down with and just run things by them or ask how they would handle a situation. I don’t have all the answers, but I know I can depend on my fellow leaders to provide guidance.
CLo: How do you invest in others?
BH: Time. I am always there when needed for any reason and for anything. I stop what I’m doing to take care of their needs. My door is always open for any team member who needs to just talk. However, I also have dedicated time each month with each advisor. That is their time to sit down and discuss whatever is on their mind. This time is for non-emergency or time-sensitive discussions. If something like that comes up, they know they can come to me immediately. I also plan social events with the team. Going to a play, or to dinner or simply taking a few at a time to lunch one day goes along way in team spirit and morale. In the past, we have also taken retreats, and those have always been a big hit.
CLo: What was the last book you read?
BH: Surviving in an Angry World – Charles Stanley – second time through. Reading is crucial. I don’t do as much as I would like, but I try. I also watch for things on the internet as well as television that might impact what we do in Customer Care or individual growth. I also try to attend at least two seminars a year to help me grow as a leader.