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7 Questions on Leadership with Denise Terry

Name: Denise Terry

Title: Managing Partner

Organisation: Zenith Strategic Global Partners

Denise Terry is a seasoned Talent Acquisition Leader with a passion for driving organizational growth through strategic talent management and acquisition. With a background spanning multiple industries, including technology, Denise excels at developing and executing global talent strategies that accelerate revenue and drive profitability in dynamic environments.

She is a trusted advisor and strategic business partner to executive leaders and key stakeholders, consistently delivering innovative talent solutions aligned with business goals. Denise is known for her expertise in leveraging data analytics and market insights to inform decision-making and achieve impactful results.

Denise's experience extends to nurturing individual talents, building highly effective teams, and fostering a culture of achievement and continuous improvement. She is dedicated to developing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives, ensuring organizations attract and retain diverse talent.

With a Master's degree in Organizational & Clinical Psychology from Boston College and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Buffalo, Denise combines her academic foundation with real-world expertise to create thriving work environments. Her dedication to identifying the bigger picture, coupled with her hands-on approach, ensures that collections departments operate at an optimal state, delivering excellence at every step.

Denise is poised to continue making a lasting impact in the world of talent acquisition and organizational development.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Denise's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

One of the most challenging aspects of leadership has been navigating through times of uncertainty and change. In a rapidly evolving world, it's crucial to adapt to new circumstances, make tough decisions, and guide a team through uncharted territory. Maintaining a clear sense of purpose and ensuring that everyone is aligned with the vision while managing the inevitable resistance to change can be quite demanding. However, it's within these challenges that the most significant opportunities for growth and innovation arise, both for the team and for me as a leader.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My journey into leadership has been a natural evolution, driven by an innate ability and inclination to inspire and guide others. It all began with a deep-rooted passion for leadership, evident even in my early academic years. I consistently found myself drawn to opportunities where I could foster and demonstrate leadership, whether it was organizing group projects, leading discussions, or spearheading extracurricular activities.

As I transitioned into my profession on the clinical side of healthcare, I assumed the role of a lead clinician. It was here that my leadership skills truly began to flourish. I embraced the responsibility of not only delivering exceptional patient care but also nurturing the growth and development of my fellow healthcare professionals. This experience instilled in me the importance of fostering leadership at every level of an organization and the profound impact it can have on both individual and team success.

My leadership journey didn't stop within the walls of a clinical setting. Instead, it extended into the realm of talent acquisition. I channeled my passion for training and development into this new domain, where I embraced the principles of servant leadership. I discovered the art of building highly effective teams from the ground up, a process that requires not just recruiting the right individuals but also cultivating a shared vision and purpose.

At Zenith Strategic Global Partners, my commitment to leadership has culminated in the formation of a strong, diverse, and highly impactful team. I've had the privilege of not only identifying top talent but also nurturing their potential, fostering a culture of excellence, and inspiring each member to reach their full potential. This journey from a natural inclination towards leadership to becoming a catalyst for growth and innovation is a testament to my unwavering dedication to leadership in all its facets.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My workday is a well-structured symphony, carefully orchestrated to ensure that I maximize productivity, drive results, and maintain a high standard of service throughout the day. It all begins with a strong understanding of my daily goals, which serve as a compass to guide my actions and decisions.

As I start my day, I rise with a clear purpose in mind. I review and refine my daily goals, which are aligned with broader objectives and strategies. This clarity empowers me to prioritize tasks effectively and make the most of every moment.

My day unfolds according to a meticulously planned and organized calendar of activities. From client meetings to candidate interviews, each slot on my schedule serves a purpose in moving us closer to our goals. I respect the boundaries of time and ensure that I allocate the right amount of attention to each task, so nothing is left to chance.

Intentional conversations are at the core of my day. I understand that every interaction is an opportunity to build relationships, offer guidance, and provide support. I engage with my team, motivating them by fostering a collaborative environment and acknowledging their contributions. These conversations aren't just transactions; they're the building blocks of a cohesive and inspired team.

One of my utmost priorities is ensuring that I provide exceptional support and representation to both clients and candidates. I approach every client's unique needs with a personalized touch, tailoring our strategies to exceed their expectations. For candidates, I strive to be a trusted advocate, guiding them through the career journey and ensuring they receive the support and representation they deserve.

In every facet of my day, I uphold a commitment to excellence. By structuring my workday with a deep understanding of my goals, a well-organized calendar, intentional conversations, team motivation, and unwavering support for clients and candidates, I set the stage for consistent success, one productive day at a time.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A recent leadership lesson that I was reminded of is the importance of active listening. In the fast-paced world of talent acquisition and leadership, it's easy to become focused on delivering messages, providing guidance, and making decisions. However, I was reminded that leadership is a two-way street, and it's equally crucial to listen attentively to the concerns, ideas, and feedback of team members, clients, and candidates.

The lesson came to light during a team meeting where we were discussing a new strategy. As I was explaining the plan, I noticed some hesitation and uncertainty among team members. Instead of forging ahead, I paused and asked for their thoughts. It turned out that they had valuable insights and concerns that I hadn't considered. By actively listening and encouraging open communication, we were able to refine the strategy, making it more effective and addressing potential issues.

This experience reminded me that as a leader, I must not only communicate my vision and decisions but also create an environment where others feel comfortable sharing their perspectives. Active listening fosters collaboration, builds trust, and often leads to better, more well-rounded solutions. It was a valuable reminder that leadership is not just about talking but also about hearing, understanding, and respecting the voices of those I lead.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

"Hire With Your Head" by Lou Adler has been a profound source of inspiration for me and has significantly impacted my leadership style. This book, with its invaluable insights on talent acquisition and management, provided me with a fresh perspective on leadership that I've incorporated into my approach. Here are some of the main points articulated in the book and how they've influenced my leadership:

Competency-Based Hiring: The book emphasizes the importance of focusing on candidates' competencies and skills rather than just their past experiences. I've integrated this approach into my leadership by assessing team members based on their abilities and potential, enabling me to identify high-potential individuals and offer tailored development opportunities.

Performance-Based Metrics: Adler's emphasis on tracking performance-based metrics for hiring and managing talent has encouraged me to implement data-driven decision-making in my leadership. I've adopted key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success and effectiveness of my team, enhancing my ability to identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions.

Behavioral Interviewing: The book underscores the significance of behavioral interviewing techniques to uncover candidates' true capabilities. I've incorporated this into my leadership by using structured interviews to assess team members' behavioral competencies and potential, which has helped in making more accurate hiring and development decisions.

Talent Pipeline Development: Adler's insights into creating a talent pipeline have influenced me to maintain a pool of potential candidates and develop relationships with them over time. This proactive approach has been invaluable in ensuring a steady stream of qualified candidates and team members when needed, allowing me to react quickly to changing talent needs.

The Quality of Hire: "Hire With Your Head" places a strong emphasis on the quality of hire, which I've integrated into my leadership philosophy. I now prioritize not just filling roles quickly but ensuring that each new team member is a cultural and skills fit, contributing to long-term success.

Long-Term Development: The book's focus on long-term employee development and engagement has inspired me to invest in the growth and job satisfaction of my team members. By offering training and advancement opportunities, I've created a culture of continuous learning and development, which has had a positive impact on team morale and retention.

Incorporating these principles into my leadership style has not only improved my talent acquisition and management skills but has also had a profound impact on the overall success of my teams. It has allowed me to build more effective, efficient, and motivated teams and has instilled a culture of excellence, continuous improvement, and data-driven decision-making within my organization. "Hire With Your Head" has been instrumental in shaping my approach to leadership and has guided me in creating high-performing, engaged teams.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

One valuable piece of advice I would offer to a young leader is the importance of embracing failure and seeing it as a stepping stone to growth and success.

I had worked diligently to secure a placement for a highly anticipated position. The client had entrusted me to deliver outstanding talent, and my reputation was on the line. However, it turned out that the candidate had lied on their background check, a situation I had never encountered before.

The disappointment and frustration were palpable, not just for me, but for the client who had counted on me to provide a seamless and successful hiring process. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.

However, the important lesson I took from this was that, in leadership, even the most experienced professionals face unforeseen challenges and setbacks. Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, I chose to focus on how I could learn and grow from the experience. I analyzed the situation, identified what went wrong in the vetting process, and put measures in place to prevent such an occurrence in the future.

This experience reinforced the understanding that failures can be powerful catalysts for personal and professional growth. It taught me resilience, adaptability, and the importance of continuously improving my processes. I realized that while setbacks may be disappointing, they also provide opportunities for innovation and development.

So, my advice to you as a young leader is to view failures as a chance to learn and adapt. Don't be disheartened by the occasional setback; instead, use them as stepping stones toward even greater success in your leadership journey.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One meaningful story that stands out from my time as a leader revolves around a team member who was initially struggling with their performance. It's a tale of transformation and the power of effective leadership.

This team member had tremendous potential but was grappling with a few challenges that were affecting their productivity and morale. Instead of resorting to a punitive approach, I chose to invest time and effort in understanding their unique circumstances, strengths, and weaknesses.

Through one-on-one discussions, mentoring, and tailored training, I worked closely with this individual to develop a personalized growth plan. I emphasized the importance of clear communication, provided constructive feedback, and offered unwavering support.

Over time, the team member's performance began to improve significantly. They not only met their key performance indicators but also started to exceed them. What was even more remarkable was the transformation in their confidence and enthusiasm. They began contributing innovative ideas and even became a mentor to newer team members.

This experience served as a vivid reminder of the profound impact that effective leadership can have on individual growth and team dynamics. It reinforced the importance of understanding the unique needs of team members, fostering a culture of support and continuous learning, and providing the guidance and resources necessary for them to thrive.

This story highlights the transformative power of leadership when it is focused on empowering individuals, helping them overcome challenges, and unlocking their full potential. It's a testament to the rewarding journey of leadership, where nurturing the growth of your team can lead to incredible personal and collective achievements.

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