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Greg Haller: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times

Published on July 4, 2022

Reposted from Authority Magazine. Authored by Yitzi Weiner | Founder & Editor.

For starters, any leader must recognize that change is inevitable, and the future is unpredictable, no matter how much time and energy we devote to forecasting and looking ahead. Based on this beginning principle, one can be prepared for different forms of change if you plan for them. It’s a case of: if this happens, then we, as a company, will take this action or we will respond this way. A great leader runs through these scenario-specific plans so that if and when something unpredictable happens, he’s not caught completely caught off guard. More importantly, he’s already formulated a strategy for dealing with that specific event, so related leadership decisions come a little easier.

As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Greg Haller.

Greg is an experienced senior executive with a proven track record of delivering benchmark results and driving shareholder value, with a strong foundation of strategic thinking, operational excellence, and people and culture development, all anchored in integrity.

He has significant expertise in leading multiple distribution channels, creating, developing and executing strategic initiatives, and fostering client relationships and P&L ownership.

Greg is passionate about winning and driving the business forward by attracting and developing the best talent, motivating that talent to deliver on their potential, and finding new and innovative ways to create world-class customer and employee experiences.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

In1989, I started working at Cellular One, one of America’s earliest nationwide wireless carriers, as a business sales executive right after I graduated from Wittenberg College in Ohio. From that entry-level role, I steadily advanced my way up through the company, relocating three times, seeing multiple ownership changes, and working in nearly a dozen different roles over the course of 29 years. I owe much of my business acumen and success to those days at Cellular One, and I utilize the lessons I learned there every day.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

In my first week on the job at Cellular One, my regional president wanted to accompany me on sales appointments, but he didn’t give me any advance notice. Because I was so new to both the role and the company, I hadn’t had the opportunity yet to schedule any sales appointments, so we went cold calling instead and literally knocked on companies’ doors prospecting for new accounts. During one stop, the president and a small business owner got into a very heated argument about the safety of cellular phones. It was ugly! Needless to say, that was a very long day for both of us. The key takeaways: always be prepared, have a plan every day, and be more selective where you cold call with the boss.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There are, literally, dozens of people who helped me along the way, and prepared me to be the senior executive I am today. One professional stands out in my mind. Carol McDowell, my manager at Cellular One when I first started out in Dayton, Ohio, was the person who gave me confidence early in my career and prompted me to push myself further, continue working hard, be diligent and vigilant, and always be asking smart questions. I’m extremely grateful to Carol for teaching me many insightful lessons in my career’s formative years that proved to be valuable as I move into more challenging roles.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

When Alorica founder Andy Lee started the company in 1999, he believed there were better ways brands could deliver superior customer service and technical support, two important business functions that have proven to be critical to the success…and failure…of many companies. With that in mind, he set out to create a high-performing global enterprise, with the supporting infrastructure and cutting-edge technologies needed, whose sole purpose was to help brands take their customer service operations to the next level…to the point where they become competitive advantages. In recent years, Alorica has evolved its focus to “creating insanely great experiences for customers everywhere,” and that is the company’s current purpose. In addition, it’s our corporate mantra that we embrace every day and every challenge with passion, performance, and possibilitiesTM. We love this credo so much, we trademarked it (as you can see). Simply stated, some see the sky as the limit; we see it as a steppingstone.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

It’s important to provide clear, frequent communication to keep the team focused on the job at hand. Helping people understand that moving with purpose and delivering accuracy are necessary, and both are extremely important. You really can’t have one without the other, and still be successful. In a crisis, people will work hard, so you have to be sure to acknowledge their efforts. In addition, in uncertain times, employees need to be reassured that senior management has their best interests in mind; their concerns are legitimate, heard and taken seriously; and that there is a path forward. That is where the frequent communication really comes into play. And it’s not just communication, per se. It has to be real, authentic and pointed communication, the type of interactions the world’s best leaders have employed throughout history to get their constituents through difficult times.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

No way; giving up has never even crossed my mind, nor has it ever been a consideration for me! In business, as in life, you should expect you’re going to run into many challenges along the way. It’s a given; a virtual certainty. It’s important to remember that no matter how big the challenge, it usually is only temporary, never permanent. Of course, it may take some time to overcome that obstacle, but it’s not like it’s ever going to be an enduring fixture in your personal life or your career.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

Every year at Verizon, the CEO would ask us to read several books in preparation for our leadership meetings. Two in particular I still reference are The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meredith and Good to Great by Jim Collins. Both tomes offer lessons about the importance of guiding a company to reach beyond its potential and focus on the key talent that will get you there.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

During challenging times, the most critical role of a leader is to be a strong, authentic communicator. It also helps to be an active listener.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

During a crisis, it’s common for employee morale to take a serious dip because of all the F.U.D. (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out there, a lot of which is spread through the rumor mill. Therefore, one of the best ways to boost morale is, as I’ve previously stated, to communicate with the workforce frequently, honestly and directly. It’s important to take a reassuring, but factual, tone, and remind them that their hard work during these times is even more important to the success (and often the survival) of the company. I work with my fellow senior executives and my HR organization to help me craft these messages, and to arrange departmental meetings in which I can personally interact and engage with employees, and reiterate those motivational messages.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers.

The best way to communicate difficult news to any group of stakeholders is to be genuine, honest and direct. It’s important to prepare what you’re going to say beforehand and provide the reasoning for the difficult news. Additionally, showing empathy and bringing a sense of support is helpful for those with whom you’re sharing that difficult news.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

For starters, any leader must recognize that change is inevitable, and the future is unpredictable, no matter how much time and energy we devote to forecasting and looking ahead. Based on this beginning principle, one can be prepared for different forms of change if you plan for them. It’s a case of: if this happens, then we, as a company, will take this action or we will respond this way. A great leader runs through these scenario-specific plans so that if and when something unpredictable happens, he’s not caught completely caught off guard. More importantly, he’s already formulated a strategy for dealing with that specific event, so related leadership decisions come a little easier.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

Integrity. It is the most important value we possess. Having it questioned or challenged is highly damaging to your personal and corporate reputations.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

Make decisions that are not transparent and put people’s integrity in question. Refuse to own your mistakes and blame others instead. Stop communicating and go radio silent.

It’s important for any professional to own his mistakes. Take what comes next and move on, and then rally the team to pick you up. In difficult times, employees need to hear and see leaders throughout the organization.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

1. Open, honest, direct and frequent communication.

2. Be seen, heard and accessible.

3. Operate with integrity.

4. Reassure employees and listen to their concerns.

5. Rely on your team to navigate troubled waters.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Your career is a marathon, not a sprint.” Once I comprehended that fully, and started focusing on getting better in my current role and mastering it, opportunities came to me when I was truly ready versus when I thought I was ready.

How can our readers further follow your work?

You can follow me through Alorica’s social media channels, or via my LinkedIn profile.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Read the full article at https://bit.ly/3R32Hjd.

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Alorica Inc. (“Alorica”) is the holding company of various direct and indirect subsidiaries, including Systems & Services Technologies, Inc. (SST). Many of Alorica Inc.’s subsidiaries operate under the brand, Alorica, but all remain separate legal entities.