Mary Quass – One Of Radio’s Best Leaders

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It will come as no surprise to anyone that’s been in the radio industry for longer than a month that Mary Quass was voted one of radio’s 20 best leaders. She’s respected by every executive in the industry and loved by her employees, as we found out during the voting. Our Top 20 Leaders list is out this week and the NRG CEO did pretty well this year. Here are just some of the comments we received from the people Quass leads…

NRG Omaha General Manager Andy Ruback says Mary is the ultimate supporter. “It’s her ‘secret sauce.’ Have an idea, a challenge, a win….Mary’s support fuels confidence and success. It’s one of the key reasons NRG Media is a great place to work.” GM Ami Graham adds that Mary’s ability to make people feel special and want to be an important member of her team is what really defines her as a great leader. “She genuinely cares for every employee and always asks ‘What help do you need from me?’ Mary inspires each of us to make positive differences in our communities and to set the professional standard. Because of her style of leadership, we want to win for her.” And NRG COO Chuck DuCoty says Mary is a natural leader who instantly commands a room with her presence. “She articulates a vision for the company, sets clear goals and objectives, and then has the confidence in her team to let them do their job to achieve those goals and objectives. Mary’s management style lets people grow, develop, and be their best. From the beginning, she has strived to make NRG Media a destination company in the industry and she has certainly achieved that goal.”

Here is our extended interview with NRG CEO Mary Quass

Radio Ink: What does it take to be a strong leader in radio today?
Mary Quass: In today’s environment of dynamic change, we must look at the future through the lens of discovery, with a desire to focus on fundamentals of the change and what drives the ability to sustain that change. It takes a sense of curiosity, not fear, discovery not discounting, and a fundamental belief in what has brought us to this place. To parallel what Dickens penned in the opening of a Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The same can be said for the radio industry. To me, leadership is the gift that is given to you by those who have deemed you worthy of their trust to chart the path to follow. I believe that good leaders focus on the things that can be controlled, have the courage to acknowledge those things than cannot be controlled, and the determination to always set the path to the goal.

Radio Ink: How have you been able to get people to work so hard for you, to want to succeed for you?
Mary Quass: I believe that WE work together on the path to success….I believe that if we can create an environment that is conducive for each of us to achieve our respective goals, then success is driven by achieving those goals.

Radio Ink: How have you put yourself in a position throughout your career to lead people successfully? What did you do to educate yourself along the way?
Mary Quass: I have been so fortunate that I have had the opportunity to work with really creative people over the years and learned early on that just having the title and position of senior management was just a name on the door, and did not confer the mantle of “Leader.” Leadership is given by those who trust you to lead. It is not mandated, it is earned. And if not earned it is taken away. I look for the reason(s) that people chose to want to work with us and strive to help them succeed.

Tom Stoner and Mary on a company cruise in 1998.
Tom Stoner and Mary on a company cruise in 1998.

“Each year of Mary’s career in radio has become a year of increasingly rapid change. To be a leader in these times you need real time, 360 awareness and a clear and positive vision. Mary possesses these qualities in abundance. You add to this her special quality of concern for others and there is a leader everyone can recognize and cheer for. It is no surprise that Mary has received this great honor.”
…..Tom Stoner

Radio Ink: What advice do you have for others who strive to be a strong leader like yourself?
Mary Quass: Check your ego…This isn’t about being the lead dog….Look around, you see lots of people in positions of power who are mistakenly under the impression that the company is successful because of them….and while they may contribute…they are only as effective as those who have given them the power to lead.

Radio Ink: Millennials are said to have more in common with baby boomers than Gen-Xers in terms of mindset, goals, and aspirations. How do you bridge the gap between Gen-X managers and millennial employees?
Mary Quass: I sound like a broken record here, but it doesn’t matter when we were born, or into what bucket we fall…we ALL have hopes, dreams and goals….I challenge my managers to find what those are in everyone of their team and together we can achieve their goals and the company’s.

Radio Ink: Leaders lead by example. In today’s 24/7 connected world, how do you balance work and a personal life — and encourage employees to do the same?
Mary Quass: Great question….and one I constantly try to perfect. For a lot of us we spend more time with each other than we do our families, but always try to be aware of the importance of maintaining that balance. If we believe, as some are predicting, that we will have the opportunity to live to 100 and beyond, it becomes more important that we understand that good life balance is essential to securing a long and happy life.

Mary at an NAB Super Session panel.
Mary at an NAB Super Session panel.

Radio Ink: How do you feel about the overall leadership in the radio industry today?
Mary Quass:
Optimistic, I believe that in times of great change there is great opportunity for leaders to emerge….not necessarily the kind that hold senior positions, but leaders in the field who understand how to unlock the key to the deeper relationship radio and its many distribution platforms offer to what we used to call our loyal listeners, now our personas and social networks…a place where they can be among friends and have a “favorite radio station” again. A leader who has the courage to try a new way, and the compassion to offer to show others the way, and a leader who has the ability to try and fail, and try again…..many times it is you…if you listen and act.

Reach out to congratulate Mary on being one of radio’s best leaders for 2017 [email protected]

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