Leadership Insights is a series of Q&As with the leaders of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce. It is an opportunity for you, our members to get their perspectives on leadership and learn more about them personally.
A Conversation with Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President, Education & Training
What is your responsibility at the Regional Chamber?
My position involves connections… connecting people with resources that empower them to further develop their skills, expertise and knowledge base on a variety of topics that support them professionally and as they set metrics for achieving personal goals.
What experiences have best prepared you for this position?
I’ve had several experiences that prepared me for my current position. First, learning to recognize how many valuable opportunities are presented on a daily basis, and understanding what to do with the opportunities. That’s really the critical piece. Other experiences that have helped to shape my skill set include interacting with many of our community’s great leaders, people who have a vision to do, create, motivate and excite other people to see that vision become a reality. These experiences have now prepared me for this opportunity to in turn create opportunities for others. It’s really about paying back but also paying forward.
What does it take to be a successful leader?
To lead you have to be a good follower and a good listener. Pay attention to what is said non-verbally as well as verbally because actions speak far louder than words. You must also be a good observer. There are people who have leadership potential but because they may not be comfortable taking the next step of faith toward a leadership role, they will “spin” in the same spot. And if someone doesn’t observe that and help to nurture, encourage and motivate them they may not take the next step. And then we may have lost the leadership potential they have. Part of my ability to listen well is that I was raised in a home with hearing-impaired parents. We were taught to observe body language. It’s not just about the words that are spoken; it is about the entire presentation. And that skill has served me well as a leader.
How has your leadership style evolved over the years?
It’s easy to think that your leadership is good because it’s what’s comfortable to you. For me, I’m always looking for ways to improve my leadership skills. I observe other great leaders and other people. When you talk about great leaders, it doesn’t always mean someone who is heading up an organization or a business or even a program. But it could be the ability to see a grandmother lead her children, grandchildren or neighborhood kids to accomplish something that without her leadership and motivation may not necessarily be accomplished. That’s a form of leadership in its purest form. I look for exemplary leaders at all levels and determine what makes them so successful, so compelling that people will line up behind them. I have also looked at leadership style assessments that have been helpful to me such as the Myer-Briggs type indicator or the DISC inventory. The bottom line is I continuously look at myself to determine if I am communicating effectively and are people willing to take my lead and work with me on a project to accomplish a goal.
What role does hiring strong talent and building a bench play in a leader’s success?
Nothing is more critical than the people who are in your company, your group or your program. At this point in my career, I have probably hired thousands of people. When you look at individuals you want to consider at what they have done, but you should also ask questions about what they would like to do and how do they intend to get there. What are they looking for for themselves? I’m looking for someone who wants to do more, to gain a new set of experiences based on the successes they have achieved and they want to build off it. So they can in turn impact others in a way. You may see someone who you believe has the potential, but they are not quite ready yet. However, they are open to learning more and developing their personal capacity to move from the bench to play, and to play well. This allows you to always have your bases covered and be able to run an organization successfully.
What phrase do you most overuse?
“The thing is…”
What three things do you never leave home without?
My purse, phone and a kiss from my husband.
What celebrity do people say that you resemble?
There are two actresses that come up regularly: one is Olivia Newton John; and the other is Morgan Fairchild
What is your favorite food or snack?
Pasta is my favorite – just about any way you serve it!
What is the best lesson that you learned this week?
I was reminded of what an amazing staff I have.
What put the biggest smile on your face this week?
That’s easy… seeing my beautiful, happy great nephew, Conner Rhett. He’s such a joy!