Barbara Mason says her listening skills are among the key qualities that helped her take on big new jobs in her 40-year career at Scotiabank.

“I’m a great listener, I assess what others are looking for, and my strategic thinking skills are strong – these three components, along with good data, let me diagnose what the business needs will be,” said Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer at the Bank. “This approach has allowed me to have the courage to jump into new areas.” 

Mason was speaking to Adam Bryant for his Strategic CHRO series of interviews. Bryant is managing director at The ExCo Group. He is the author of several books on leadership and for eight years he wrote the Corner Office column in the New York Times.

“I’m willing to take calculated risks, and I’ve failed before and survived, and so that allowed me to keep taking those calculated risks,” Mason said. “I also want to set a good example for people to learn from — failure teaches you as much if not more than success does, as long as you look inward and learn from it.” 

Mason listed the “X-factors” that define the best leaders as curiosity, relatability and empathy.

“There is so much change in the world that if you’re not seeking out opinions that might be challenging to your own thinking, that’s a recipe for disaster. You have to be really open-minded to diversity of thought and experiences.”

Read the full interview.