Episode 80: Conscientious Collaboration with Kyra Faison-Gardner and BE Furniture

Who is Kyra Faison-Gardner and the key takeaways in this episode?

Here is the long-awaited interview with Kyra Faison-Gardner, John’s partner and the CEO of BE Furniture. With her unique and refreshing approach to company management, she has seen BE Furniture grow from strength to strength. We all have a lot to learn from her inclusive and collaborative style.

Listen to this intriguing interview and find out:

  • The difficulty of gaining equal opportunities
  • Kyra’s preferred style of management
  • How her management approach has accelerated BE Furniture’s growth
  • And much, much more

The Questions

Could you share with our listeners a story about how you felt you weren’t being given a fair opportunity?

Answer:One that comes to mind happened not long ago, where I had to attend an appeals process in the city for one of the government agencies that had turned us down as a vendor. I remember sitting in a room with our attorney and our financial person to fight it. I was defending our right to be involved in the project based on our status. The individual we had met with initially had started questioning why I felt that I made a better CEO than you. It was insulting. They went on to question it. I’m not smarter than you, I just see things from a different perspective, and they couldn’t grasp that. The gentleman that was leading what I felt was an inquisition went on to question the number of years I had taken out of the business to raise a family. He also asked why, as an African-American woman, I felt that I would be the better leader. It was incredibly insulting and humiliating. It was obviously based, by and large, on his biases, and it’s difficult to combat that type of thinking.

Could you tell us a little about your leadership style? One would venture to say that you’re not a typical CEO.

Answer: I would say that my style is more influential than it is authoritarian. I often like to explain to our team what I’m trying to achieve, and then I solicit feedback. We have an incredible bank of knowledge with our people, and I try to keep an open mind. Collaboration works, although I recognize that it isn’t appropriate or reasonable in every single situation. I also realize that collaboration or cooperation is sometimes read as weak by some people. I’m not really concerned about those people. They’re not part of our tribe. That’s the style of leadership that I’m comfortable with, and it works in our company.

how do you think your unique style of management has helped to build BE Furniture to where it is today?

Answer:I think it has helped because no one person knows everything. We’ve all worked with somebody, whether it be a boss or coworker, or we’ve been in a relationship where somebody thinks they know everything. They think they know everything and they’re always trying to run everything. I find that to be very limiting. I would prefer to hire great people, let them continue to develop and grow, and then tap into their knowledge of the thing that they do best. I’m more than happy to let them take the lead with it. It’s because of that that we have really grown as a company in this industry. We’ve come up with ideas and changed our processes for the better. Each year, we’re constantly growing and improving, and I think that’s because we give everybody an opportunity to contribute.

Culture According to Kyra Faison-Gardner:

It’s a blend of unique personalities, values and also the shared goals of any organization. Sometimes we, especially when it comes to big business, think it has to do with what the top people want, but that’s a false picture. They don’t take into account the unique personalities involved in making their company a success. Values are something else; it’s not just the goals, it’s how you’re going to do things and how you’re going to treat people. It’s a bigger picture.

Book Recommendations:

  • The Optimistic Workplace by Shawn Murphy

Go To Quote for Inspiration

What Kyra Faison-Gardner Wants Her Company to BE:

  • BE The Change

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:

Where to Find Kyra Faison-Gardner:

  • Email her at: kgardner@befurniture.com

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