Glenn Llopis of GLLG: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain &…

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Glenn Llopis of GLLG: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times

Keep a clear head and think strategically

When everything is in flux, it’s more important than ever to have a clear vision and strategy for your business. That doesn’t mean you need to have all the answers — but you do need to know where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.

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 Glenn Llopis.

Glenn Llopis (pronounced ‘yō-pēs) is a Cuban-American entrepreneur, bestselling author, speaker, and senior advisor to Fortune 500 companies and organizations in healthcare, retail, consumer packaged goods, and beyond.

He is the founder and CEO of GLLG (Glenn Llopis Group), a nationally recognized workforce development and business strategy consulting firm that builds high-performance leaders, teams and cultures, focusing on inclusion and the power of individuality — using methods Glenn pioneered for successfully leading in the Age of Personalization.

Glenn is a Forbes Leadership Contributor and author of “Unleashing Individuality: The Leadership Skill that Unlocks All Others” and “Leadership In The Age of Personalization: Why Standardization Fails in the Age of “Me”. Glenn’s Leadership books and articles have been featured in various international publications, including Forbes, Harvard Business Review and Entrepreneur Magazine.

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’m a Cuban-American, with deep roots in both cultures. My father and biggest inspiration, Frank Llopis, was prominent Latin music pioneer, who introduced rock ’n’ roll into the rhythms and sounds of Salsa and Merengue music with his quartet Los Llopis. After being forced from his beloved homeland by Castro’s revolution, my father went on to become one of the most renowned Cuban musicians of his time, with Beatles-like fame throughout Spain, Mexico, and Central and South America. They eventually made it safely across the seas only for them arrive at America where this man would play one final concert before joining up with an invention team that created Miller Lite beer! I share this personal history so you might comprehend that earning serendipity is more than a work or business strategy. It is also a heritage passed down through generations, and with heritage comes responsibility.

I graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles with a degree in political science. I then fast-tracked at the Gallo Wine Company as a sales representative and then at Sunkist Juice Beverages, where I became the youngest executive in the company’s 100-year history.

I successfully turned around Sunkist’s juice beverage division, which led to my next endeavor: senior executive at American Seafoods Company. There I led the foodservice and retail business operational units. This resulted in an increase in market share, new brand introductions, and a full-scale transformation of the company.

In 1997, I’ve launched my first business, Luna Rossa Gourmet Foods, which focused on the sales, marketing and distribution of gourmet vegetables, pasta sauce, and salad dressing under its Luna Rossa and Chef’s Harvest brands.

In 2007, I founded the Glenn Llopis Group to focus my work on leadership and business development around the “immigrant perspective.” I have assessed thousands of senior leaders, managers, and early in career talent over 15 years and personally worked with hundreds. I have the uncanny ability to quickly evaluate how people have been suppressed throughout their careers and how to unleash them.

As a senior advisor and speaker to Fortune 500 companies, I can say that many leaders have lost touch with the changing world around us. We’ve learned the hard way that we need each other more than ever and it’s time to create economies of scale around embracing human dignity. Our age of personalization demands it.

In 2019, I founded of the Leadership in the Age of Personalization Movement, a grassroots movement that aims to restore dignity throughout corporations. It consists of an elite group of executives from different industries who have come together for one purpose: To disrupt standards by redefining what it means to be considered ‘leadership’.

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?

Trusting that experts are really experts. I’ve learned claiming to be an expert at anything is extremely difficult. Perhaps a person was an expert during a specific moment in time, but to be a life-long expert requires a deep commitment to what gives your life purpose and meaning for the betterment of others.

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?

My father. He was 50 when I was born. He was a man of tremendous wisdom. He was a progressive thinker; a renaissance man who had to work hard and smart to overcome the barriers of not always assimilating, but rather innovating in music and in life. He was a simple man that loved helping others find happiness and success in their life.

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?

The vision of our company was, and continues to be, to help businesses grow through inclusive leadership and the power of individuality. Our purpose is to help leaders evolve and stay ahead of the rapid changes in the world by teaching them how to embrace a new kind of thinking — an innovation mentality mindset. My company differentiated itself from other businesses by its focus on creating a close-knit and supportive community of that encouraged members to share their ideas and work together to make them a reality.

My purpose as a leader has always been to increase influence. Unlike other entrepreneurs who are only chasing to increase their profits and leave their mark, I always aimed to expand community and leave a legacy. The final measure of the purpose of an individual or a company is the culmination of its actions. I always desired to leave a legacy that will bring continued good fortune to many lives after he or his company is gone. My father always said, “in the end, there is only individual effort, pero propósito no individual” — but no individual purpose.

If anyone will create and sustain a legacy of good fortune, he must ultimately join other fortunate ones in the business of bettering the world. This is the mark of a serendipiter.

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 had developed and launched a gourmet-food product line that was to be sold in Costco, Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, and Big Lots stores across the nation. Millions of dollars were in the pipeline, and it appeared that my harvest of good fortune would soon grow exponentially. At this time I met a man who would become my partner in the licensing of the products. I trusted him somewhat blindly and now, looking back, can see the political signs beneath our conversations that pointed to the unfortunate outcome.

It seemed each time we spoke about the details of the venture, he referred to questions or concerns his business partner had brought to his attention. I addressed these matters honestly and tactfully, seeing the concerns in only an obvious manner. I considered them merely part of due diligence even though the partner was not formally involved. The unfortunate truth beneath the surface was that the man’s partner, who I later found out was his wife, held his power card, and I posed a threat to her. My licensing partner was only a pawn, and in the end his wife talked him into breaching our contract. I was blindsided. His decision to disregard our agreement landed us in arbitration and eventually withered all profits from a once-promising harvest.

The imminent outcome is obvious to me now, but at the time my excitement to reap a large harvest prohibited me from seeing the politics beneath the surface. They clearly indicated the man wasn’t the right partner. While he was pleasant, he was neither a Leader nor a Lifter, and my involvement with him caused me mis- fortune I could have avoided.

To avoid a similar outcome, you must learn to spot the signs of damaging political undercurrents beneath your workplace con- versations. Unnoticed, they are weeds that choke seeds of good for- tune. Left to thrive, these political weeds will destroy an abundant crop of opportunity.

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

No, I never considered giving up. I was motivated to continue by my family and my desire to make a difference in the world. What sustains my drive is my passion for making a difference and my belief that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

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?

“Rhinoceros Success”

I read this book when I was Student Body President at Azusa High School. It was a gift from my math teacher. He believed that I could make an indelible impact on people’s lives as a leader. The premise is that rhinos put everything they’ve got into everything they do. I learned that to be an effective leader, you have to put everything you’ve got into everything you to do take care of your people. Leaders must be rhinos.

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

Is it to have all the answers? Is it to be the one who is always calm and collected? Is it to be the one who rallies the troops and gets everyone moving in the same direction? All of these things are important, but if we had to narrow it down to one thing, we would say that the most important role of a leader during challenging times is to be highly effective.

It means having a deep understanding of people and being able to adapt your systems to unleash their fullest potential. It means being able to see the potential in others and help them reach it. It means having the courage to make decisions even when you don’t have all the answers. It means being able to listen to different points of view and incorporate them into your decision-making. It means being able to communicate your vision in a way that inspires others to follow you.

In short, it means being the best leader you can be.

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?

The answer lies in what we know about people. We know that people are capable of so much more than we often give them credit for. We know that when people are given the chance to succeed, they will.

So, leaders need to focus on giving their team members the opportunity to succeed. They need to create an environment where people feel valued and respected, and where they know that their contributions are important.

When people feel like they are part of something larger than themselves, they will be more likely to go above and beyond to achieve goals. So, leaders need to focus on creating a shared sense of purpose within their team.

By focusing on these things, leaders can create an environment where people are inspired, motivated and engaged. And that is the best way to navigate through these uncertain times.

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

It is difficult to remain calm and level-headed when faced with bad news, but it is important to do so in order to maintain a positive and productive work environment. The best way to communicate difficult news is by being honest and transparent. Don’t try to sugarcoat the situation or downplay the severity of the problem. Instead, let your team know what is going on and what steps you are taking to resolve the issue. This will show them that you are committed to finding a solution and keeping them informed throughout the process.

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

This is a difficult question, and there is no easy answer. The best thing to do is to stay flexible and be prepared to adapt as circumstances change. Try to make decisions that will leave you in a good position even if the future is not what you expect. Be cautious and don’t take unnecessary risks. And always be learning so you can better understand the ever-changing world around you.

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

In times of uncertainty, the organizations that come out on top are those that know how to navigate change. The ones who thrive will be the ones who know how to adapt and be agile in the face of adversity.

The number one principle that can help guide a company through these tough times is flexibility. Being flexible means being able to adapt quickly to change, and that’s exactly what organizations need to do in order to survive and thrive in uncertain times.

Organizations need to be prepared for anything and everything, and that means being flexible in their approach. They need to be able to pivot quickly and efficiently in order to stay ahead of the curve.

The organizations that are able to do this will be the ones that come out on top in times of uncertainty. So, if you want your organization to thrive in turbulent times, make sure you’re flexible. It’s the number one principle for success. That’s why we will host “Navigating Uncertainty,” the 2022 Leadership in the Age of Personalization Summit, presented by GLLG in partnership with Clemson University’s Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business. Dozens of leaders will participate in an intensive, 1-day exploration of trends causing the most uncertainty in their industries — and the strategies leaders are employing to navigate unknowns and be resilient.

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?

One of the most common mistakes businesses make during difficult times is to slash their marketing budget. Marketing is essential to keep your business top of mind with your target audience, and should be seen as an investment, not a cost.

Another mistake is to stop innovating. Challenging times are when businesses need to be agile and adaptable, and to continue to invest in new products, services and ways of doing things.

Finally, businesses need to be careful not to become too inward-looking during difficult times. It’s important to maintain strong relationships with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, and to communicate openly and frequently.

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. Keep a clear head and think strategically

When everything is in flux, it’s more important than ever to have a clear vision and strategy for your business. That doesn’t mean you need to have all the answers — but you do need to know where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate

In uncertain times, communication is key. Your employees, customers, and partners all need to know what’s going on, and what your plans are. Keep everyone in the loop as much as possible, and be as transparent as you can.

3. Be flexible and adaptable

The ability to change course quickly is crucial in uncertain times. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow, so you need to be ready to pivot and try new things.

4. Stay calm and focused

It’s easy to get caught up in the panic and drama of uncertain times. But as a leader, it’s important to stay calm and focused. People are looking to you for guidance, so it’s important to stay level-headed and clear-minded.

5. Lead by example

As a leader, your actions speak louder than words. So set the tone for your team by being positive, proactive, and solutions-oriented. Show them that it’s possible to thrive, even in the face of uncertainty.

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

Without strategy, change is merely substitution not evolution. This is one of my original quotes that was inspired by my life experiences and my father’s wisdom.

You should constantly be investing in yourself. We no longer have the luxury of time to change without evolving. We must continuously renew and reinvent ourselves to ensure that circumstances don’t force our hand. Because when we don’t, opportunity gaps widen faster than we have the ability to identify the gaps that exist — let alone close them.

How can our readers further follow your work?

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

Glenn Llopis of GLLG: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain &… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.