Shannon Bryant | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Shannon Bryant


Shannon Bryant has 25 years of Tennessee regional banking experience, and was recently promoted to senior vice president and retail banking executive for First Tennessee Bank in Middle Tennessee. The largest bank headquartered in the Volunteer State, First Tennessee Bank has grown tremendously since its founding in 1864. The bank's wealth management group of 331 advisors oversees $29.8 billion in assets.  

The Mistake:

I am a get-it-done, drive-results kind of person. Early in my career, I always surrounded myself with people who were just like me. They were easy to relate to and communicate with.

It worked. I was seeing good results and a steady progression of my career until I hit a bump with a job change. I found myself in a new position where one supervisor was very analytical, and another was very easygoing.

Suddenly, my go-to approach that I had used for years wasn't working. The amiable person was particularly frustrating to me because that style was the one that probably contrasted with mine the most. His approach was slow and steady, and he wanted to give everyone an opportunity to weigh in on discussions.

I had previously been working in an environment where you got up every morning and went as hard as you can, and come in the next day and do more of the same. In the new, smaller, community-based organization, it was more methodical and people-centered.

I had to figure out how to navigate it. I had never tapped into the analytical or easygoing parts of my leadership.

Early in my career, I always surrounded myself with people who were just like me.

The Lesson:

During this process, I realized that these two individuals I was working for had very long careers and had achieved great success with their different styles. This season of my career, to be honest, was very challenging, and it really forced me to nurture those other aspects of my leadership style. I just didn't know how to interact with these individuals who were highly analytical or very easygoing.

The lesson I learned was to be very intentional about surrounding myself with people with different styles. By doing so, I have put myself in a place where I can lead, coach, mentor and manage people of all styles.

I’ve had to realize it’s not always about the results. Sometimes it's about the people or the process, which in turn going to yield the results we are looking for. Building a diverse team will really drive those sustained results.

You can't surround yourself with people who are just like you. If you do, it will stifle your own personal growth.

When I'm going through an interview process, I'm intentional about asking a broader base of questions. I go into the interview process and try to make myself stay completely blind to what type of personality they have, and just look at skill sets. That's been the best thing as far as building highly functional teams. You can approach the job in an entirely different way and still yield the same or even better results.

Pictured: Shannon Bryant | Photo courtesy of First Tennessee Bank

Follow First Tennesee Bank on Twitter at: @FirstTennessee

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