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Greenville Business Magazine

Leadership Development is Key for Employees at United Community Bank

Sep 21, 2022 04:19PM ● By Donna Isbell Walker

At Greenville-based United Community Bank, leadership development is an aspiration for everyone from the executive team down to tellers in the branches.

“We want to create a development environment that will  set UCB apart. We know that connections, an ability to master your field, and  a supportive working environment combine to drive success,” said Holly Berry, chief human resources officer for United Community Bank.

The way Berry sees it, “leadership develops over time and with experiences, not in a single day or training course, and we want to be intentional in helping our employees recognize, enhance, and refine the qualities needed to be a truly effective leader.” 

UCB President and CEO Lynn Harton sets an example for everyone who works there. Harton “embodies character qualities and attributes, such as passion, generosity, relationships, and courage, that inspire the team from the top down. He sets the tone and the expectations,” Berry said.

Berry, who has worked in human resources for over 20 years, began her career as a registered nurse working in occupational health. She joined UCB earlier this year after stints in human resources for BMW, Bank of America, and a biotech life sciences company. A Clemson University graduate, she also holds an MBA in Human Resources Management from Webster University and multiple certifications in the HR field.

That variety of experience has served her well at UCB, helping to evolve its human capital and leadership programs.

In addition to the Leadership Academy, Senior Leadership Conference, Banking School, Executive Coaching, and other development opportunities for employees, Berry is planning a formal mentorship program. When that program is launched, “we’ll specifically identify leaders to pair with high-potential employees. During the program, the mentor and mentee will meet monthly to cover a specific topic on the curriculum.

The 12-month program will also give the mentee a chance to connect with and learn from a leader in another area of the bank. Besides providing exposure to a different department with which they’re not familiar, this also allows the mentee to ask questions, seek advice, and glean insights from someone different from their supervisor, Berry said.

Berry herself has 25 people on her team, and in her view, human resources professionals should emulate the behaviors of leaders who make a positive impact on employees.

She works on giving each team member the opportunity to develop his or her own skills and talents. One way is through her team’s book club, which is incorporated into her monthly HR team meeting. Each HR team member has the chance to lead the discussion of a different chapter of the book. 

Currently, they are reading “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” by John Maxwell.

Berry’s goal is a simple one: “I want to build leaders that others would follow to the end of the earth.”