Rich Baron Of Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Make decisions in a timely manner. It is easier to correct decisions going forward, which is always the direction you need to head in. Over analyzing data or failing to make decisions in a timely manner will cost time and effort.

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 Rich Baron.

Rich is a Master Certified Executive Leadership Coach (ICF Accredited). Rich was handpicked by John Mattone, the world’s top executive coach and motivational speaker, to represent Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching (ILEC). Rich was trained and certified by John Mattone and Dr. Mike Smith, CEO of John Mattone Global. Rich has been in operational and executive leadership positions for over 25 years, primarily in FDA regulated medical device organizations. He was able to lead his organization to obtain a customer retention rate of 100% from 2006 through 2019 while operating at a 5.67 sigma. In addition, Rich serves as a job coach and has helped hundreds of job seekers find new employment through resume writing, networking skills, and interviewing skills. Rich and his coaching partner, Maikel Bailey, host a podcast called Mainline Executive Coaching ACT, which has now grown to have a global audience. The show focuses on issues facing leaders in today’s business world.

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?

“I actually started my career as a musician and ended up in Nashville for a couple of years. After my stint in Nashville, I ended up on the road with a couple of bands and was fortunate enough to play with some well-known acts. However, being on the road for several years, I decided that it was just not the life that I wanted to continue to pursue and went back to school and ended up with degrees in business and marketing. I also found that I loved manufacturing, watching raw materials transformed, working in teams, seeing the bigger picture, and learning how to engage employees to improve not only themselves, but the organization. That started my path in operational management and then to executive leadership roles. However, some of the biggest lessons in leadership and teamwork I learned from my years as a musician. I have played in front of just a few in a club to thousands of people in large concert settings. You must work as a team and when everyone is doing their part, the results are incredible. I also learned the value of listening to those with far more experience and knowledge who were willing to pass on the skills and talents they possessed. The importance of humility, courage, teamwork, and due diligence are attributes I learned early on and was able to apply all those lessons as a business leader. After 25 years in medical device, the company that I worked for was sold to another organization who brought in their own management, and I found myself at a crossroads. I naturally gravitated towards coaching and started working with management level people that were trying to reenter the workforce. I found that when I used the skills and talents that I possessed to help others, I discovered a joy in my life that is only found when you help others succeed. That led me to finding John Mattone and ILEC. There was no doubt that Executive Leadership Coaching was the path that I wanted to pursue. After being accepted as a business owner within ILEC, I was the sixth coach that John and Dr. Mike Smith trained and certified. The rest is history as they say.”

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?

“Years ago, I was addressing a group of employees. I had several employees that spoke Spanish, and I wanted to say some things to them in Spanish and asked for some help from a friend to give me some phrases I could say that would tell them how well they had been doing in their job functions. What I did not consider was that my friend had given me a few phrases that was more along the lines of a marriage proposal verses what I had hoped I was going to say. I was first met with blank stares that then turned into laughter. I was mortified. Since that time, I have always used a translator to convey my messages to the team if needed in another language.”

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?

“I have been fortunate to have been mentored and taught by so many great leaders, both in business and life. The person who stands out the most for me is my father. He was a truly humble person that achieved some great successes in his life but was always present to help others.”

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?

“My goal was not only to start and grow my own business, but to do something that would allow me to help others grow in their careers as leaders. I had several options as far as businesses I wanted to start, but coaching was in my heart. It is a way I can give back through my skills and abilities that I have gained over the past 25 years in various leadership capacities. We are in need of great leaders at every level.”

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?

“I have been through several corporate acquisitions which is always a time for concern for the employees in the organization being acquired. The best way to keep employees focused and stop the rumor mill is to keep them engaged. Employees that have a strong culture already in place where communication is strong, and employees are engaged in the future of the organization do much better in an acquisition. I made it a daily practice to step up communication both in town halls and one on one, listening and being empathetic to their concerns, including them in transition and branding activities, and being present and vigilant. Being a focal point and showing resolve to continue the success that the team has already achieved is a vital aspect to helping employees through tough times. However, if there is one take away from this it would be to over-communicate. Even you think you have communicated enough; employees always want more during tough times.”

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

“There are times in life that each of us want to throw in the towel. It is those moments that it is even more important to face your challenges and push through. Fear is a reaction, while courage is a choice. When you decide to push through, you find that those challenges are not as daunting as you may seem to think they are. I also learned early in my career that the comfort zone is a very bad place to be. Challenges are going to arise in our career, it is inevitable. If you’re in a comfort zone, you will not be ready to address the issue in a timely matter, if at all. I was taught a great lesson by someone I consider to be a great leader that if something is running smoothly, break it and figure out how to fix it. Not in the literal sense of actually breaking whatever it may be, but simply to have a backup plan in the event things go wrong. That way, the challenges you will face as a leader are not so daunting when you are prepared ahead of time to resolve them.”

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

“The most important thing for a leader to do in critical times is to model the way. Be resilient, prepared, vulnerable, humble, ask questions and take advice from those around you. The best leaders surround themselves with those who they can trust to give the best advice during these times. It is a proven statistic that 75% of all businesses fail during challenging times because they do not have the ability to pivot and address the changes that need to be made simply because they fail to include the skills, talents, and energy of everyone in the organization. Simply put, there is strength in numbers.”

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?

“Be vigilant and always present. Right now, the future is uncertain simply due to all of the changes on the horizon and events from the past couple of years. The businesses that are going to thrive going forward have leaders who are focused on improving organizational health, can both lead and follow, have a clear vision and communicate it often, include employees both as individuals and team members. Companies that can pivot and change will be the ones to survive any tough times on the horizon.”

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

“By being honest, timely, and coming to the table with solutions to resolve the issue. Listen to the concerns that will most certainly arise and be prepared to follow through with a resolution that may be needed.”

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

“Companies and leaders that will weather the storm will have tools that can help them through tough times. Executive coaching can be a wonderful guide.”

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

“The biggest waste in any organization is people’s time, energy, and talents. The number one principle would be employee empowerment and engagement! The strongest corporate cultures are built on trust, responsibility, empowerment and engagement.”

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?

“Ignoring the problem, no contingency plan, failing to take inventory of the skills and talents in the organization, failing to communicate to the organization.”

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?

“Keep reinventing yourself and business. What may have worked last year may not be the best path currently. Stay current on trends and technology that are being used to further other businesses. Simply put, continuously improve every aspect of your business.”

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. Have a clear understanding of your own personal values and stick with them. This will help you make decisions that will keep you from second guessing yourself or the outcome.

2. Make decisions in a timely manner. It is easier to correct decisions going forward, which is always the direction you need to head in. Over analyzing data or failing to make decisions in a timely manner will cost time and effort.

3. Do not live in a comfort zone. Comfort zones are business and career killers. Be present and vigilant in every aspect of the business and have a solid contingency plan for multiple potential scenarios. Be prepared to pivot and change whenever necessary.

4. Build your culture now based on trust, reliability, empowerment, and employee engagement. Leaders who have built solid organization cultures built on these foundations will be survive and be successful, period.

5. Get executive coaching! An executive coach can help you identify and your strengths, as well as your gaps and develop an individual personal development plan. The tools and skills you will develop from coaching will last you a lifetime!

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

“’People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.’ — F. Matthias Alexander

Our habits are in a lot of ways based on our own personal beliefs, feelings, and values. Staying true to who you are as an individual will truly help you determine your habits, which in turn dictates how our future will unfold.”

How can our readers further follow your work?

The best way to reach me is through my website:

They can also follow my podcast, “Mainline Executive Coaching ACT.”

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

Rich Baron Of Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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