April 7

Barry Williams On Evergreen Leadership Skills


Barry F. Williams is the president of the Barry F. Williams Consulting group, which specializes in Education; Work Force Development; Recreation and Parks; and Medical Cannabis as an industry. Barry had been a leader in each of those fields throughout his long professional career.

Additionally, Barry was a trainer with the National Coalition of Building Institutes, a progressive training model that works to identify and eradicate the isms in the work place and in schools. Barry is also trained in Mediation and Conflict Transformational Skills, with a focus on Fundamentals from a Relational Approach.

Barry serves on many boards, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Greater Central YMCA, St. Frances School Board, Baltimore Area Council Boy Scouts, Baltimore Blast, Maryland State Fair and Agriculture Center, Pikesville Armory Foundation, and the One Thousand Friends of Pikesville. Barry received his Masters in Education for Counseling and in Administration and Supervision from Loyola College (now University).

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:41
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of The No Limits Selling Podcast where we interview really cool people and figure out what's going on inside their heads so you can grab that knowledge and share it with our listeners and our viewers. And today I had the privilege of having a dear friend on the show, Barry Williams. And Barry Williams has been a principal of a school, leader of large organizations, philanthropic work, a boy scout, an Eagle Scout. Barry, welcome to the program.

Barry Williams 1:08
Thank you, Umar. Good seeing you.

Umar Hameed 1:10
I said it's such a treat, being able to kind of chat about leadership for a long time now. I've been really interested in what happens at school and how it relates to business because I've met a lot of women that used to be teachers, and now are CEOs and they're incredibly talented. And sometimes ask them, "Did your training in elementary school with kids help you in dealing with the leadership team in your company?" and they go, "God, yes, it is helped a lot." So I thought it'd be great having you on the show and talking about your time as a principal in high school and how that relates the leadership lessons there, how they relate to what you did in your career, leading organizations of hundreds of people.

Barry Williams 1:51
Thank you, I will share with you, quite honestly, being a high school principal was one of my favorite jobs. And I've had a number of jobs but in terms of being able to get really at the front line and working with students and teachers and, and parents, you're not going to find any better spot than to be as a principal. And I'll tell you a couple different reasons why one, you have about 1500, for me, 1500 students there, which is a huge number of folks and so you learn how to divide and conquer. So you try to get to know as many different students as possible, but you do it by grade level.

Umar Hameed 2:35

Barry Williams 2:36
And so the students will start with the seniors, because they're going to be the ones with me the least. And tried to get to know them by name and by where they were going and other kinds of things. And then down to the freshmen, they were the ones that I worked on the last because I was going to add them a lot much longer period of time.

Umar Hameed 2:57
So let's pause there just for a second, Barry. Because ultimately, knowing someone, knowing their name seems like a trivial thing, but it's a really important thing. What do you think that was important for you to do and for them to hear.

Barry Williams 3:11
So when you are anonymous, you can do all kinds of things, because you believe that you can get away with that. And when students found out that I knew their name, knew where they live, they may know their parent, then it was a whole different piece, then I became very real to them. And they were very real to me, they were no longer just a face in the crowd. And so that took on a whole new way of dealing with students. I started by being out in the bus stops, and those that I didn't know their name, you know, but just ask them, you know, "Son, tell me your name," or, "Excuse me, tell me your name, I really like to know that." And they tell me that and I practice hearing it in my head a few times to make sure I can identify the face with the name. And so that went on very from the beginning. I would say for at least the first three months of the school year, I went on looking that kind of identification. And when I would see them in the hallway or in classrooms, or in the cafeteria, I would say, "Hey, Umar! Hey, good to see you. Glad you're here." You know, or if Umar came in a little bit late, I would say, "Umar, I'm glad made the choice to come to school." Now. How about tomorrow, you come in a little bit earlier so you can be there on time for your first period class.

Umar Hameed 4:36
So what's interesting is you were just using an example using Umar as the name but when you said "Ellen Umar," my face went to a smile. It was just an automatic reaction when you hear your name. And one of the things that I think is really important is intent. Like your intent clearly is to connect,

Barry Williams 4:52

Umar Hameed 4:52
and to respect. And because of that, it's a totally different interaction because you can have someone that just wants to remember names, wants to record negative stuff and you can just sense it. So how important do you think intent is in...

Barry Williams 4:53
Oh, absolutely.

Umar Hameed 4:55

Barry Williams 4:55
Absolutely. Because you know, when I masking their names, I tell us, I want to get to know as many different folks as possible. But to find out who you are, you know, so I could tell just by being on a bus stop, what bus came from, where so I knew what neighborhood they lived in, inside had a general sense about them as an individual. But also just overall, who they hung out with, you see kind of patterns of behavior,

Umar Hameed 4:56
Oh, yeah.

Barry Williams 5:18
[garbled]. And so if there was some positive stars, I found those positive stars, if there were negative stars, I found those negative stars, and I worked with them to make sure that I especially learned who they were, so that they would know that, you know, I'm invested with you. You know, I want you to know that I make a connection, and the connection is going to happen before you're called in for something that you should not have been doing.

Umar Hameed 6:00
Right. So were you a teacher, before you were a principal?

Barry Williams 6:04
I was. For a small period of time, I have a Master's in Counseling as well. So I went from being in the classroom teacher to be in a counselor. And that's really where I learned how to be a much better and more effective listener, to my students, and to all people in general.

Umar Hameed 6:23
Interesting. So as you were going through this high school experience as principal, who are your mentors, who are people inspiring you to and guiding you to do a better job?

Barry Williams 6:32
So I had some leadership mentors, one was my area superintendent at the time, Evelyn Chapman. And I learned some really key things that made a lot of sense to me, for example, Evelyn would say, probably start a meeting on time, "Don't wait for people who are coming in late. You don't want to reward people for poor behavior. So they need to learn that and you know, things are going you need to be there on time." And so I carry that through, you know, a couple of different schools, where I was positioned. I remember one school when I was in Baltimore City, it was Southern High School. And I send out notification for the teachers to come in between 8:30 and 9:00 for continental breakfast,

Umar Hameed 7:27

Barry Williams 7:27
So the meeting was started at nine o'clock, the meeting would end at 10. So at nine o'clock, there were only six out of the possible 50 or so teachers who should have been there. And so I said, "Well, I'm going to start," and I did. And I had a whole list of things that I was going to be covering, different folks kind of drifted in, and about five of 10, the last of the teachers came in. And I remember this one, you said, "Can you go back over some of the things?" and I said, "Absolutely not. I told you that we were starting our meeting at nine o'clock, we are ending our meeting at 10 o'clock. If you want to find out the material that I covered, I suggest you talk to one of the six people who were here on time. And tomorrow, we will again meet at nine o'clock." Well, the next day, I would say three quarters of the folks were there before I got there.

Umar Hameed 7:28

Barry Williams 7:30
And I got there 15 minutes early. So is kind of setting expectations and make sure that you follow through on the things that you said you were going to be doing.

Umar Hameed 8:40
So it sounds like your mentor was really talking about respect, because that's what comes out is...

Barry Williams 8:45

Umar Hameed 8:46
Because I did this. As I was trying to get better at doing workshops, I joined Fred Pryor, they do a lot of workshops around the country, I became one of their trainers and started using a lot of my material as I was doing it. And one of the exercises I would do is I would ask people could be you know, 30 people from a tire plant, half of them didn't have high school educations, or it could have been PhDs in, in Boston, no matter where in the country, I went over what their soci- economic status was, I asked him you know, "Think of somebody you admire as a leader, and what are the attributes that you admire?" And then people would put the attributes down and all around the room, they would be 120 attributes around on flipchart paper, then I tell them, "Okay, let's pick your top five. When you go to the one that you like the most put five checkmarks next to it. Number two, for number three, three, and so on." When everybody put all the checkmarks in what was interesting was this is that, as a set of lists, all the lists were different. But when you pick the top five didn't matter which group that was where in the country, they always pick the top five attributes of a leader and one of the biggest ones was respect. Great leaders respect the people leading they have great communication skills. They have a vision of what they want to accomplish. They have integrity, and a few other things kind of came out of it. But it was really interesting, it's all the fundamental stuff of being a human being is the same thing you need to be a great leader.

Barry Williams 10:12
I believe that, you know, follow through with, you know, my time being a principal, I would share with folks we would meet for an hour. If I ever had to go over, I would negotiate with them, I said, "Listen, folks, I have about another five more minutes, if you have to leave, by all means, leave," I said, "But is it okay, then we spent an additional five minutes so I can cover this." So again, asking them, as opposed to telling them, because again, I had follow through and saying that we began at a certain time we'd ended a certain time after that this negotiations. So I carry the same thing with with folks that they had an assignment that needed to be done and said, you know, "Pick, you pick the time and hopefully, we can agree upon that. And that's when you need to have the standby. If you are not able to meet that timeline, you need to let me know at least three days beforehand, it's not okay to, you know, tell me on the day that it's due that you can't do it." So, and that was a lesson for some folks as well. They learned very quickly, that you know what they came to me to say that, you know, on the day of that one, now, I need a little bit more time that said, "I've already shared that you shouldn't negotiate it with me, I was available or during this time. So the answer is no, you will not have any more time." So sometimes it's a hard lesson for some folks, some folks think that, you know, the last word is not necessarily the last word.

Umar Hameed 11:52

Barry Williams 11:52
And I want to make sure that I was consistent with what I said something I met.

Umar Hameed 11:56
And that's one of the things that people have to trust in the leader. And sometimes may not like the answer or what happens, but as long as the leader is constant, and they have integrity, that's the foundation that you can build an organization on. So Barry before we leave high school behind and kind of go into your career leading your large groups of people, is there one particular student that comes to mind that you can protect the name to protect the innocent, that was a problem child that you got to mentor and kind of turn their life around?

Barry Williams 12:26
Ah, I don't know if I can tribute all that I did to turning this person's life around. But I've had a couple of students who later years have said, you know, "Mr. Williams, if it wasn't for you, I would not have graduated from high school." And, you know, I'm always surprised when I hear that and they said, "No, no, no," and and they remind me of some of the things that I would do. For example, I had this one young man who was consistently late. And so I said, "Okay, I really need to start my day off, I need to get here at this particular time, I need you to come in and you know, have a little conversation with me, because I need to be in the right frame of mind to work with all of these 1500 students, 106 teachers and yadah...yadaa. And we did that, we did that for about three months.

Umar Hameed 13:18

Barry Williams 13:19
There are some days would make it but you know, and but I would let him know and say, "Hey, listen, I have to go to a meeting, stop by the Secretary and make sure you tell her what you were going to be telling me,"

Umar Hameed 13:31

Barry Williams 13:32
That was one of the pieces. There was some students that rather than suspend or expel, I would run a Saturday, suspension was just me and that student. And so we'd really have a conversation. It was kind of like the Breakfast Club if you're...

Umar Hameed 13:49
Oh, yeah.

Barry Williams 13:50
...that'll, be [garbled]

Umar Hameed 13:51
That word was coming to mine when you said that.

Barry Williams 13:53
Yeah, but we'd sit there and talk. And I think, and I'm kind of wandering around your question on that. But the thing that was perhaps most key, I learned after the first graduation, thinking that I knew all of the students and I found out at graduation, that there were some people there that I had never seen before. I don't remember seeing them. And so after that, and I carried it through, I required anyone who was going to be graduating on stage, they had to have a half an hour meeting with me before they could graduate. And so that meant that had to start when you have about 400 students in a class. You had to start in September to be able to get through to me like that, but it really worked out well. And I said you're coming in for an interview. So you need to dress up. You need to make sure that you have your career plans in place. And you know, so many of them didn't, but they were at least thinking about that. So again, setting higher expectations. And during that time I got a real good chance to know those students. So that was another vehicle that I use to make sure that I knew who was in the school, knew who Umar was, what his plans were, or if he didn't have plans, maybe make some suggestions as to what Umar could be doing, to better make sure that his plans after post high school are intact.

Umar Hameed 15:26
So Barry, did you ever see this movie take the lead with Antonio Banderas?

Barry Williams 15:31
No, I did not.

Umar Hameed 15:32
You should. I'll send you a link, you should take a look at that, I'm sure it's streaming somewhere. Is based on a true story. This guy goes into Brooklyn High School and this misbehaving kids there that he's encountered, at least in the movie, but in real life, he went to the school, and he said, I want to teach your children ballroom dancing. He think it's the funniest thing ever. Because you know, no kids are never going to do it. But it really got people to dress up and feel great about themselves. And so it sounds like that's what you were doing, respecting kids and offering them to step up. And the story you told of that young gentleman where oftentimes people won't do things for themselves, but they'll do things for others. And when you said, "You got to help me start my day off, right?" was a really good technique to get him to step up in order to help and of course, help himself so totally brilliant. So Barry, you've led many organizations, some of them nonprofits, some of them you know, where you're the boss, tell me about one of your biggest lessons where you were struggling to figure out how to get this organization to be what it needs to be, and what were the epiphanies you got that allowed you to do that transformation.

Barry Williams 16:40
I think one of the I don't know if it's as much of an epiphany, but it is trust the process of using the things that I already knew how to do with young people and applying that to the older adults. Essentially, I learned that my most recent place of employment was working with a manufacturing group it was, it was medical cannabis. So the the folks there range from the ages of 20s, something to like the 50s. What I found was that people still have the same needs, the whole notion of I want to be heard and want to be respected, I want to feel welcomed. All of those things, where if they had an...

Umar Hameed 17:29

Barry Williams 17:30
Absolutely. Everyone wants, everyone wants to feel welcome so. But this one I, I learned because they had complained about no one from the senior staff really listens to them, or cares for them. So I would start my mornings off, and we would have different groups, they would meet at different times to start off their assignments and, you know, get their all their resignations and things and, and so I would always have something positive, to try to say at the end of that. You know, time so it was kind of here were this activities are going to be happening, the address here's what you can be looking forward to. It was a big boost for me to encourage them to further their education so I worked out a deal with the community college and, you know, we brought in instructors, they're so...

Umar Hameed 18:21

Barry Williams 18:21
...you know, you know, that's, again, thanks that I knew how to do. But it was easy to kind of just bring it forward. You know, the biggest piece was to try to help the senior leaders know that, actually, this what I'm doing works. And so this is no trust the process on this, one there.

Umar Hameed 18:41
Absolutely. And I think fundamentally what we've been talking about whether you're in a relationship, a marriage, or their employees or their kids in school, the fundamental human need that we have to be heard, a lot of things that I hear from people on exit interviews, is that my manager was there, but wasn't listening. You can just tell when someone's distracted with something else. So people need to be heard, needs to be respected, need to be led, like, it's your job as a leader to get the best performance out of the people you lead. And when you shirk your responsibilities, it's harmful to the organization, it's harmful...

Barry Williams 19:18

Umar Hameed 19:18
...to the employee. But to do that, you have to build that trust with each individual. And you need to have the right intent.

Barry Williams 19:25
Right. I will share with you that I had a secretary. And this going back to when I was in high school. As a principal, she always had a whole list of things that she would want to run with me and are run through to me. And I remember one particular time she said, "I really need to have your time for to go over this list," and I said, "Quite frankly I don't have the time right now. However, at four o'clock, we will have one complete half an hour and you can find everything did you have for me," she was fine with that. I made sure at four o'clock I was there on time, nothing else could have mattered, you know, but I was listening to her so I gave her her time. So I share that to say that, you know, you don't always have to capitulate, you can let folks know, "Okay, I don't have this, I'm not able to do this during this particular time but here's when I can. And when I give you my time, I will fully give you all of my time," and that works. You just need to make sure that you follow through with that you can't be telling folks you're going to be doing that, and then not following through.

Umar Hameed 20:40
Absolutely. So Barry, I'm gonna ask you two questions that are kind of complex. And the answers might be the same for both.

Barry Williams 20:45

Umar Hameed 20:46
Question one, one of the problem areas for organizations is middle management, because people are in the working ranks, and they kind of step up into a managerial role. And oftentimes, that's troublesome for them because their co workers are below them. And so what three pieces of advice would you give new managers that they should know that would help them become better managers?

Barry Williams 21:08
Seek out as much training as you can about leadership, do not make the mistake of thinking that once you're a manager, that your former peers are going to be viewing you in the same way, they will not. Even though you may think that you haven't changed, they perceive that you've changed. And so you need to be very much aware of that. And seek the advice of someone who has been in management for a longer period of time, you know, ask for feedback,

Umar Hameed 21:45

Barry Williams 21:45
ask to be mentored.

Umar Hameed 21:46
Huge. So here's the second question. Sometimes when we're doing a job for a while we get into a rhythm or a rut, how are you going to describe it. So...

Barry Williams 21:56

Umar Hameed 21:56
...for people that are managers, CEOs of companies, there's lots of things on their radar, what would be the three pieces of advice you'd give them to be better leaders, so they can actually, I'm talking about the human equation, how you get the most out of your people, what would be the three pieces of advice you'd give them.

Barry Williams 22:14
Seek the advice from your people, we'll advise not just to, you know, the, to feather your nest, to think that I'm doing a really good job and telling me how good of a good job I'm doing. But really asked for something really, something that's really objective, that may be a little tough for you to hear, you have to put your ego aside for the sake of the organization.

Umar Hameed 22:42

Barry Williams 22:45
I think that you need to be able to give feedback quickly, to folks, even if it's not a positive one, you need to make sure that happens upon the, whatever the offense may be.

Umar Hameed 23:00

Barry Williams 23:00
You need to get feedback and accurately but don't dwell on it. You know, I believe the minute manager kind of thing, you know, if you need to give people feedback, tell them what it is that you had expected, tell them how they can remedy it. And tell them your expectations from there [garbled].

Umar Hameed 23:21
Brilliant. Barry, before we part company, is there one mind hack, one trick that you use to be more productive, happier, better looking like what would that be?

Barry Williams 23:32
I think so. When I was leaving the county, the county executive best for some advices, so you've been around for a long time, you know, yada yada. And I said listen more, speak less.

Umar Hameed 23:51
Words to live by.

Barry Williams 23:52

Umar Hameed 23:52
Barry, thank you so much for being on the program. I really appreciate it.

Barry Williams 23:56
My pleasure. Always good seeing you my friend.

Umar Hameed 24:04
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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