By Angye Morrison
If you call Darron Burnette a “boss” boss, you’ll get a couple of reactions. First, you’ll get a chuckle. He doesn’t think he deserves the recognition. Second, you’ll get a brief run-down of all the people who are on Burnette’s team at Synovus Bank. He says they’re the real heroes, and that he would be nowhere without them.
Burnette, who has been with Synovus for about 17 years, is the Divisional CEO at Synovus, and his territory covers all of South Georgia and North Florida. That’s about 12 different communities and 425 people. He’s been in his current position for going on five years. When asked about how he achieves a positive work environment, he is quick to credit his company.
“Synovus believes in creating a great work culture. And that is where we definitely not only care about our clients. But we care about the people we work with day in and day out,” he said. “The blessing for me in working in a market like Statesboro is that we have such a great group. We have a lot of longevity of team members. We’ve been here, and we’ve created a family environment where we really truly care about each other. So the blessing for me in my career has been to work in an environment like Statesboro and to try and carry that around the other parts of the state, as well as North Florida, that I cover.”
He encourages the leadership on his team to work toward similar environments in their own communities.
And when you ask Burnette what makes a great boss, he says that he’s learned a little something from a Colin Powell quote.
“He made a comment one time that he
often learned more from poor leadership than he did from good leadership. And so through my career, I’ve worked for some people that have been wonderful leaders, and I’ve worked for some poor leadership where I’ve learned what not to do. I want people to treat me the way I want to treat other people,” he said.
Burnette says that as a leader, he works to help his employees gain confidence.
“Once you believe in them, and they believe in themselves, they’re going to be able to excel in the things that they do,” he said.
Compassion is also important, he added.
“I think, generally, having compassion toward them, not only in their development, but in their personal lives and everything that goes on, because we all have trials and tribulations,” he said.
Commitment is also important, he says, because it creates “that bond and that culture that you hopefully find in most of the banks in our company.”
In addition to his work at the bank, Burnette is very involved in the community. He is involved in the Blue Mile Project, which works toward the redevelopment of downtown Statesboro. He’s also on the committee behind Rockin’ Out for Azheimer’s, and he encourages his employees to get involved in the community as well. Rockin’ Out for Alzheimer’s has raised just over half a million dollars in its eight years, and the Blue Mile Project, which Burnette has worked on for eight years, is something he is most excited about.
“The one thing,” he said, “is community. I think it’s a responsibility in our profession that we make the community that we’re serving a great place to work and live. I think you have to do that by becoming passionate about certain things. You can’t be involved in too many things, but find things that really touch you.”
Burnette’s boss is Wayne Akins, and he calls Akins the “best guy I’ve ever worked for in my life.” Akins also makes giving back to the community a priority.
“We’re not only doing our job to provide the funding to make our community vibrant, but it’s important for us to try to make sure we’re holding a leadership position in trying to make that happen,” Burnette said.
As for being called a “boss” boss, Burnette just chuckles.
“I’m probably the guy that doesn’t like the word ‘boss,’” he said, adding that he prefers to use the term, “leader.”
“It’s almost like becoming a father. I really get more value in life out of seeing my team members succeed than I do myself. You have to experience that. Seeing them develop is what I seek pride in, them growing in their career and somehow being a part of helping them along on that pathway,” he said.
Burnette says he has learned over the years that a great team takes different talents and temperaments. His relationship with his assistant of more than 16 years, Rosalyne Burney, is proof positive of that.
“She kind of helps balance me out. She’s much more laid back than I am. She’ll put me in my place, which I need periodically,” he said.
Burney echoes that sentiment, saying that “he is very Type A personality, and I am more laid back. He’s very intense and I can take that intensity and move it to a slower pace.”
Burney says working with Burnette has been a wonderful experience, and his leadership and involvement are the best parts.
“Every day is a challenge because he is so involved. But I get an opportunity to be involved in the community as well as the bank,” she said. “He doesn’t ask anything of you that he wouldn’t do himself.
Burney says that recognizing Burnette as a great boss and leader is certainly well deserved.
“He’s more of a partner than a boss,” she said.
Burnette was nominated by Chris Wiggins, retail market manager for Synovus.
“Darron is not only passionate about his community but also has a passion for seeing his employees succeed. He is probably one of the busiest men I know, but I always know that I can pick up the phone and call him at any time,” he said.
Burnette is married to Kim, who has been at Bulloch Academy for 22 years. She is currently the curriculum coordinator for the school. The couple’s oldest daughter Courtney, is a teacher at BA and is 26, while their youngest, Caroline, who is 23, recently married and lives in Atlanta with her new husband.
Burnette came to Statesboro to attend Georgia Southern, and says he fell in love with the community. After a brief time in Atlanta, the couple moved back to the Boro 25 years ago, and he says they have loved living and raising their children here.
A True Blue Eagle, Burnette enjoys cheering on all of GSU’s teams, and when he needs to unwind, he and his family head to Disney World.
“I’m a die-hard Disney guy. The reason I am is when I go there, my girls are 5 and 8 again, and I’m 6, and my wife is 6. We just absolutely love it. It’s become a family tradition for us. Some people go and relax out on the lake. I go and relax at Walt Disney World,” he says, smiling.