How She Leads: Walk a Mile in Your Employees’ Shoes

This profile of Kerry Barclay, Owner, KB Ventures at 500 Club Casino, was published in the “How She Leads” supplement from September 2021.

As the owner of KB Ventures at the 500 Club Casino, I believe leadership encompasses so many styles that it’s hard to fit it into a one size-fits-all approach. My role is always changing, from the different generations of people I hire and work with to all the projects I pour myself into. I credit the foundation of my leadership to a great role model in my life: My brother Kevin Barclay, who worked his way up in the casino industry. We’re 14 years apart, so as a young girl, I got to watch him go through many different successes and failures. He never gave up. That’s something that has always influenced me, which is why I have such a strong work ethic. I took his leadership skills and used them as my basic leading fundamentals and found my own style from there.  

Today, I lead with compassion because you never know what people are going through behind closed doors. I put myself in my employees’ shoes because they are the heart of my business. If I want them to be there for me, I should be there for them. I also believe in giving back, not necessarily just financially, but also with my time, resources and connections. Do what you can for people. It makes you feel good and it keeps you humble.  

Having confidence and knowing your worth is key.  

Being a female leader can present many challenges. In general, women tend to show their emotions more often than men. I have learned that you cannot let your emotions get the best of you. To some, it may make you seem weak or incompetent. I believe it gives away your power and respect that you probably worked twice as hard as the other gender to achieve in the first place.  Also, in my opinion, making decisions based off of emotions is not always the best business practice and you have employees counting on you to keep it together. Always walk in a room with confidence and know your audience — it’s important!

For the next generation of leaders, I believe it’s important for them to learn every component and position of the business they want to lead as it gives them an advantage to becoming great leaders. Start from the bottom and work your way up. For example, if it’s your dream to own a restaurant, work as a busser, server, then bartender. Learn how the kitchen works and learn management or accounting skills. Having firsthand experience allows you to understand what employees are facing and step in if challenges arise. It makes you more relatable when you can put yourself in your employees’ shoes. 

When it comes to the legacy I’ll leave as a leader, I looked to my General Manager Jack Mushyan, who is the epitome of my greatest leadership legacy.  

“As a leader, Kerry puts her people first. She is understanding and makes sure her employees’ wellbeing is first. At the same time, she wears many hats and plays many roles. She is a boss when it comes to getting work done, a friend when no one is there to listen and a sister in times of crisis. To sum it all up, she is the brightest star shining in the sky. She gives light, guidance and hope for a bright future,” said Mushyan.  

A very successful businessman in town said that things are not always going to go your way or play out the way you believe they should. You have to “shake it off” and move on. That’s something that has never left me. Anytime a business deal falls through, I constantly hear him say, “Shake it off, Kerry.” Then I regroup and focus on what’s next. Anytime you are starting over, you aren’t starting from nothing — you’re starting from experience, and I think it’s an important reminder. 

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