An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Have a vision and create a plan.
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 Richard V. Battle.
Richard V. Battle is a multi-award-winning author of eight books, media commentator, and motivational speaker on leadership, sales, and faith for over 30 years. He has served on several leading non-profit organizations in an executive advisory role. Richard is a regular guest on KLZ, Denver CO, and KTOE, Minnesota, in addition to his appearances on or in dozens of leading media outlets, including Fox TV, The New Rationalist, The Washington Times, WMT, Wake Up Tucson, Real America’s Voice, and KMOX St. Louis. You can visit him online at www.richardbattle.com
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?
My first leadership opportunity was as president of my college business fraternity, and I executed responsibility by instinct and experience as a follower rather than study or experience. It was a life-changing event as it revealed to me the opportunity to positively impact others’ lives and an organization by our leadership.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I was surprised early that everyone I led in the fraternity didn’t respond to one single motivational tool. Each member required individual communication to inspire their performance. Early on, I thought the problem was theirs. Fortunately, I discovered the problem was mine early and adapted to succeed.
Interpersonal skills are crucial for leaders to achieve organizational success and individual performance and development.
None of us can 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?
Some so many people helped me knowingly and unknowingly. The best contributors knowingly helped me by being interested in my development and coaching me to improve myself consistently.
Others unknowingly benefitted me by their personal example. I’m a firm believer in active learning every day, formally and informally. Some of the models were positive, and others were negative illustrating negative leadership. Both are beneficial if we’re studious.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
Successful organizations must be led first by individuals with a vision of where they want them to go. Leaders with a grand vision may not attain 100% success, but they will consistently achieve more results than those who meander through time uninspired.
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?
Leading volunteers requires additional skills because you can’t use money or job security as motivators.
As Austin Junior Chamber of Commerce president, three board members resigned during one meeting to protest a project they rejected.
It was a test that could have split the organization and doomed my presidency. Fortunately, my response and my executive team reaffirmed our vision for the year and the opportunity to significantly better our community.
Overcoming that and other challenges resulted in our chapter receiving the Outstanding Chapter in the United States award and further recognition.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
Thankfully, the few things I quit in life and the regret they fostered were individual activities and not as a leader.
Our responsibility as a leader to executive responsibility and then prepare future generations of leaders to ensure long-term organization success demand perseverance through turbulent times regardless of the individual cost.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
Leaders must earn trust from their teams from the moment they join an organization at any level. Team members must be sure you’re capable, confident, honest, transparent, and your interests are organizational and team member success. If team members perceive a leader only cares about him or herself, the leader will be ineffective during good times and catastrophic in challenging times.
Sam Houston was a great example during “The Runaway Scrape” during the Texas revolution. For six weeks, he restrained his overanxious troops until the singular moment when Texas could win their independence. If he had not built a reservoir of trust with his army, they would have rebelled, and their premature action would have lost the war.
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?
Proven leaders with established trust can ask teams to follow them into the unknown because they realize it is their best opportunity for survival and success.
Trust based on experience, vision, open communication, experiencing the danger with the team, and sharing the victory bonds team members with leaders.
Effective leaders command respect and loyalty because they earn it day in and day out with their teams. Ineffective leaders fail to prepare for the difficult times during good times, and organizational failure and destruction often result.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
I prefer to communicate trouble before the team or customer knows there is an issue. With the news, I inform them I am already working on a solution that will occur shortly, causing minimal damage.
Getting in front of trouble is another tool to increase people’s trust in your leadership.
There is nothing weaker than a leader appearing surprised and unprepared by a threat.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
There is no substitute for experience. The experienced leader will prepare a plan and multiple contingencies.
Multiple plans enhance the leader’s knowledge, and quickly implementing them demonstrates confidence and capability to team members. There is no wasted effort in contingency development because preparation may be utilized at any time in the future.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
If you don’t have the very best leader for your organization, find and hire that person.
Wandering through the valley of death with an average leader will cost more and negatively impact the organization’s future longer than investing in the best steward for the institution.
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?
Responding too slowly to the threat.
Retaining ineffective leadership because of loyalty.
Failure to honestly inform the team of the challenge and plan to overcome it.
Failing to examine offensive responses to the difficulty while playing defense.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
There are two sides to every equation. Too often, cost-cutting is the first and only response considered during turbulence.
Sometimes great opportunities appear and can be capitalized on because others are only playing defense.
Thoroughly examine what an organization is doing and ask why about everything. Too often, “it’s always been done that way” dulls our creativity and inventiveness.
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.
- Have a vision and create a plan.
- John F. Kennedy inspired the nation to set a goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s. It was a bold vision that united the country. A monumental effort was undertaken to achieve the goal, resulting in many non-space benefits.
- Communicate the plan and opportunity for success.
- There was no better leader in the 20th century than Winston Churchill. He became prime minister during England’s darkest days. Even leaders in his political party wanted him to negotiate a peace treaty with Germany.
He realized that if they surrendered, their lives would be much worse than if they fought and lost.
Delivering one of the most powerful speeches in recorded history, he inspired the country, stating, “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
- Inspire their team to achieve the plan.
- Former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry defined leadership as “getting people to do what they didn’t want to do to achieve what they want to achieve. Few want to pay the price to achieve excellence, but everyone wants victory. Successful leaders inspire total team efforts beyond what individuals believe they can contribute to achieving results surpassing anyone’s imagination.
- Lead the team from the front in executing the plan.
- Joshua Chamberlain’s inexplicable attack under maximum duress from Little Round Top on July 2, 1863, set the stage for Union victory at Gettysburg, Lincoln’s re-election, and ultimate victory. A theologian and teacher by trade, his leadership from the front was instrumental to success.
- Adjust the plan based on resistance and obstacles.
- Every plan becomes obsolete upon first contact with the enemy. D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the Normandy campaign only succeeded because of the individual initiatives of soldiers on the ground adapting to what they experienced in real-time.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“What you do in the present will create a past that will greatly influence your opportunities and dreams in the future.” — Richard V. Battle
In other words, seemingly insignificant decisions today may have a lifetime impact. We should make every decision in that light with the example and precedent it may establish.
How can our readers further follow your work?
My website is http://www.richardbattle.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Author Richard Battle: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.