Maria Coyne joined the team at the telos institute a little over a year ago. With over 30 years of experience in commercial and retail banking, Maria brings a rich background of success and lessons learned. Maria is a Cleveland native. She has been nationally recognized as a thought leader on small business and women in leadership. Her background includes leadership in strategy and marketing, as well as coaching and development. In addition to her work with telos, she is President and CEO of the Corner Stone Fund. She’s also an avid rower. We’re excited she’s on our team!
How did you decide to pursue coaching/consulting? Was there a pivotal moment that lead you here?
Three years ago I had just been named as one of American Banker’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking – for the second year in a row – and that was when I decided it was time to leave commercial banking and look for my next adventure! As I had a chance to reflect back on what I had found most rewarding about my long career in banking, I kept coming back to two items. The first thing I found very satisfying was the number of employees I had led, coached, mentored or sponsored who had gone on to have very successful careers themselves. The second thing that had provided a great deal of satisfaction was the years I had spent working with small businesses, not just on their financial needs but also sharing insights, giving advice and encouragement, and then having the privilege of watching their businesses grow. It was quite natural then that I would look for opportunities to continue with the coaching and consulting!
Why is coaching important to you?
There are really two reasons that coaching is important to me. The first is the idea that with the gift of perspective I can help others keep perspective on what will really matter in five or even two years. I can share things that happened to me that maybe I really beat myself up about, but in a relatively short amount of time didn’t really matter. Or the reverse when I had really killed myself on a task, had a great outcome, but a quarter later it was forgotten! I endeavor to help them focus on the big things and not dwell on the insignificant ones. In any event, I think perspective helps manage stress and I love the idea of someone else learning from my mistakes. Secondly, I’m a problem solver at heart and every new person I meet is a new puzzle to solve – understanding what makes this unique human being tick, and then leveraging that to help them grow. There is also an aspect of learning for me too, I always learn something from the people I coach and I really appreciate that.
If you could share only one core value, what would it be and why? What is the one characteristic every leader should possess?
I believe that above all a leader needs to act with integrity and to be true to themselves. There is of course, the well known quote from Shakespeare, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” If you never comprise your values, if you’re always motivated by goodness, if you bring your whole self to work every day, and if you build trust, I believe those are the necessary elements to becoming a followable leader. Also there’s not really any one formula, one correct answer, every leader needs to find their own unique leadership voice. You be you.
Who has had a major impact on your leadership? Why?
There is no one person as I feel I have learned from every single leader I have ever observed. I will say this, I have learned as much (maybe more) from bad leaders as I have from good. A good solid lesson in how not to treat people goes a long way.
How do you relax?
I relax by being active! I know that may sound a little silly but when your work life is largely sedentary – I like to get up and move when I’m not working my brain. I love to row (that actually does require a little brain power), and I also like jogging, hiking, golf and of course travel and adventure with my family. And a nice glass of Italian Barolo helps to unwind as well.