Shanna Munroe brings a new dimension to an old favourite in Ontario
For more than a quarter of a century, Shanna Munroe has been working with such notable chains as Prizm and Scott’s Restaurants, serving both as an operator and executive. Last September, Munroe joined Mr. Greek in the capacity of executive VP and COO, adding new flavour to the successful company. Though she looks for guidance from the chain’s founder George Raios, as well as seeks input from all her franchisees, Munroe is set to make her own mark at the popular ethnic chain.
F&H: How would you describe your leadership style?
SM: I’d like to think that anyone who observes how I manage our brand would watch me orchestrate a beautifully synchronized ballet between our strategic vision and its execution in our restaurants. More often, however, it looks like a rap dance. My style is to go from the forest to the trees, making sure our activities have a purpose in sync with what we stand for as a brand. The focus is on developing people and building winning teams.
F&H: Does being a woman alter the way you relate to employees?
SM: When I started in the industry, only two or three per cent of managers were women. We had to over-achieve just to get noticed. But you embrace behaviours and habits that become a part of who you are. The caring, discipline and determination has more to do with who I am as a person than with being a woman.
F&H: What’s your biggest challenge in leading?
SM: Maintaining the kind of environment that attracts and inspires the best people, franchisees and employees alike. It’s important to welcome change and let go of old habits. It’s also critical to promote and recognize positive attitude. Cynicism is a cancer I have little tolerance for. It’s easy to criticize, but “curiosity before judgment” will earn you a great deal of respect and cooperation.
F&H: What issue keeps you awake at night?
SM: Acute financial crises aside (which can be managed with a little forward planning), people issues have a way of getting to me the most.
F&H: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a leader?
SM: A lifetime lesson is to lead with confidence and humility. It’s important to provide direct, honest feedback and have the humility to solicit it in return. Feedback is a gift and a keystone of self-awareness. Accepting you aren’t perfect and displaying genuine concern earns trust and respect. Also, and not specifically as a woman, accept intuition as a means of scanning the environment. Trust your gut.
F&H: Do you have words of wisdom for other leaders?
SM: Keep things simple, listen and share how you feel. Above all, stay true to who you are. That’s the only way to really add value. Then, walk the walk: it is a prerequisite to trust and credibility. But the real catalyst is to share and promote your values with passion. And surround yourself with people better than you.
F&H: What important lessons have you learned through this past recession?
SM: If you consistently provide what guests are looking for, recession is for others. Recessions are an opportunity to make sure employees and systems and processes are geared towards meeting and hopefully exceeding guests’ expectations.
F&H: What is the biggest achievement you have had in your career?
SM: It’s been a journey of wins for me. The battles one loses along the way provide learning and define character. Three years ago, I embarked on the MBA program of Guelph University and I just graduated last month. But I take satisfaction in a balanced lifestyle that provides quality time with my kids and husband, despite the hours and commitment required to make a difference in the hospitality industry.
F&H: What kind of strategies are you looking at to take Mr. Greek to the next level of success?
SM: Since our inception, the pillars of quality, integrity and passion have been a large part of what we stand for. George Raios wouldn’t have it any other way. Our strategy focuses on people, capabilities, processes and innovation. I believe our guests will notice it when they next visit their neighbourhood Mr. Greek.
Illustrated by Jason Edmiston