Featured Leading Voice: Mary Schaefer

by  Paula Kiger  |  Meet Lead Change
Featured Leading Voice: Mary Schaefer

This month we are featuring Leading Voice Mary Schaefer, a coach, trainer, consultant and speaker who helps develop a culture of engagement and empowerment with tech managers and employees. She specializes in manager/employee interactions with organizations employing engineers, scientists and IT professionals, helping managers/owners successfully coach employees to tap into their own initiative and resourcefulness to deliver results. Mary’s mission is to create work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive.

Mary has a B.S. in Computer Science from Indiana State University and an M.S. in Human Resource Management from the University of Charleston.

Mary has always been fascinated by the human dynamic at work. Human relationships, motivation, and human needs like appreciation, belonging and making a meaningful contribution have been high on her list. She started learning about this on her father’s farm as young as age 5. Mary and her father tended 1000 tomato plants to get her through her senior year in college.

As an IT professional, Mary loved figuring out when things went wrong; it was like figuring out a puzzle. But her favorite thing was helping others learn new things and flourish at work. She went into HR so people could have at least one person in HR they could expect to be “human.” After experiencing her 8th downsizing, she left DuPont in her 20th year there, concluding her corporate career as an HR manager. Since 2004, Mary has had own business coaching and training managers, HR leaders and employees to bring more humanity to their work cultures through treating each other like human beings, applying listening and coaching skills, and taking charge of their careers.

A leadership lesson Mary gained from her first job was: Coaching people while maintaining their dignity gets you better results than telling or yelling

When asked about one of the best moments she has had professionally, Mary shared, “When I was an HR manager, a young man came to me because he thought he was deliberately embarrassed in a meeting and he thought I was the only one who would take him seriously. We worked together on how he could address the transgression.”

On the topic of the most important qualities in leaders, Mary believes that having dealt with or being aware of their own limitations and hot buttons is key.

Mary thinks schools should incorporate emotional intelligence into their curriculum planning.

When questioned about the strangest thing she’s ever been asked in a job interview, Mary replied, “Do you like being married?” is the question that was the oddest.

When asked about books she has found most helpful for her professional life, Mary recommended Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield.

When asked the most creative solution she’s ever seen to a problem in life or work, Mary replied, “I don’t know if this is an urban legend or not, but the story about the boy who suggested letting air out of the tires when a truck was stuck under an overpass.”

If she had to hashtag her life, Mary’s would be: #peoplematter.

One of Mary’s favorite quotes is “Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request” from Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield.

When asked “if money were no object, what would you do all day?” she responded, “write, speak, teach, coach, read and travel.”

The best advice she’s ever been given was, “Trust your intuition.”

Mary became involved in Lead Change when her coach brought the hashtag #leadchange to her attention and insisted that she check it out. We are so glad you trusted your intuition and followed through, Mary! You are an important part of our community!

Editor’s Note – You may ask, “How does one get chosen to be a featured Instigator?” The answer is simple. If you are already an Instigator, fill out this form and continue to engage with the Lead Change Group on a regular basis. If you are not yet an Instigator, sign up. There are many benefits to being an Instigator – email us if you want more information.

Previous Featured Leading Voices and Instigators:

5/2016: Kevin Eikenberry

4/2016: Chip Bell

3/2016: Eunice Parisi-Carew

2/2016: Chris Edmonds

1/2016: Marcella Bremer

12/2015: John Stoker

11/2015: Sean Glaze

Do you have a question for Mary? Ask it here!
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mary Schaefer

About The Author

Articles By paula-kiger
Paula believes her Twitter bio says it best: Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. She is a communications professional who provides writing, editing and social media services through Big Green Pen. She was the community manager for the Lead Change Group for two years. Paula has a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Systems from Florida State University. She is an active advocate for many causes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Page Cole  |  01 Jun 2016  |  Reply

“Coaching people while maintaining their dignity gets you better results than telling or yelling. ”

I’ve always seen that when you back people into a corner, they only have one way out… and it’s not pretty. When we address issues or challenges honestly, fairly and with a gracious and productive way out, people tend to respond with gratefulness and better performance.

Thanks for the reminder, and it’s great to get to know a little more about you!

Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen)  |  01 Jun 2016  |  Reply

Thanks for sharing in this celebration of Mary!

John E. Smith  |  01 Jun 2016  |  Reply

Hi, Mary:)

I suspect that if you spent your time doing the things you listed above (“write, speak, teach, coach, read and travel” ), that money would indeed be no object, because my experience is that when you share, we all need to be paying rapt attention.

Loved learning a bit more about you through this post. I think one of the primary strengths of the Lead Change Group is our willingness to share not just knowledge, but ourselves.

By the way, you are an exemplary example of “Farm Strong” and a model for the rest of us sod-busters gone city:)


Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen)  |  01 Jun 2016  |  Reply

Great comment, John! I think farms probably bring out some really fascinating aspects of everyone who has worked at them!

Join The Conversation