MARTIN WILLOUGHBY: Positive style pays off for Entergy’s Fisackerly

Martin Willoughby, columnist

Organizations face challenges daily. The key is how they respond. The leader’s role is crucial in setting the tone for the organization. Leadership guru Kevin Eikenberry noted, “Remember that whatever energy you bring to your work will be noticed and amplified. Your personal attitude is a huge part of the energy you inject into your team and organization.” A positive attitude is contagious, and the leader’s role is to be a catalyst for a positive outlook within the organization. Basketball star Charles Barkley famously declared, “I am not a role model!” In your company, you are the role model for how to handle adversity. Your employees are watching you. As leaders, we must be aware of this at all times, and project the confidence and “can do” spirit into our organizations. As Winston Churchill noted, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Haley Fisackerly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Entergy Mississippi, Inc., understands the importance of having a positive attitude and effective communication within an organization. Fisackerly grew up in a hard working environment on a farm in Columbus. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in public policy administration from George Washington University. Before joining Entergy, Fisackerly served on the staff of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran where he managed Cochran’s Washington office. In 1995, Fisackerly joined Entergy’s Washington, D.C. office. Fisackerly served in a number of leadership roles within Entergy in Washington, D.C., Little Rock, Arkansas and Mississippi before being named to his current role. His positions have included Vice President of Customer Operations, Vice President of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs, and Director of Regulatory Strategy. Fisackerly noted, “The diverse leadership roles within the company have helped me grow professionally and to have a better appreciation and understanding of the entire organization.”

Haley Fisackerly

Fisackerly shared, “Attitude is everything. When leading, people are always looking to see how you react.” He said that the challenge for leaders is to show a high energy level and a positive tone. He noted, “We all have tough issues to address. The key is to face them with a positive outlook.” Of course, Fisackerly’s leadership and decision making is grounded in reality. As leaders, we all have to “confront the brutal facts.” The difference is how we respond to those facts. I have personally seen organizations that quickly spiral down when the leader becomes defeated. Fisackerly’s leadership style was significantly influenced by Senator Cochran. He shared, “Senator Cochran showed me how one leads with grace and respects everyone. He also taught me the importance of listening.”

Communication is critically important to Fisackerly. He noted, “While I was serving as an orientation leader at MSU, I learned from Dr. Jimmy Abraham the importance of communicating with people without pre-judging.” Fisackerly believes it is critical to keep an open dialogue with his team. He is not a micro manager. Instead, he tries to set clear expectations and trust that his team will “get the job done.” To maintain effective communications, he has bi-weekly meetings with his entire leadership team. In addition, he has standing individual meetings with team members. This type of intentionality is critical to effective communication. I have personally found that if I don’t schedule these type of meetings with my colleagues then the tyranny of the urgent hinders timely communication. Fisackerly noted, “I share with my team that if you are asking yourself whether someone needs to know something, then assume that they do.”

Under Fisackerly’s leadership, Entergy Mississippi has earned recognition for its economic development efforts winning the Governor’s Cup in 2009 from the Mississippi Economic Development Council. In addition, Entergy Mississippi received the 2010 Governor’s Award from the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education, the organization’s most prestigious tribute for the company’s Destination Education program. In addition to his role within Entergy Mississippi, Fisackerly serves in numerous volunteer leadership roles with organizations such as the Mississippi Economic Council and the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute as well as numerous local and statewide organizations. Fisackerly’s positive attitude and effective communication skills are inspiring leadership qualities. Our state will continue to benefit from his efforts in the years to come.

>> Martin Willoughby, a business lawyer in Jackson, is a regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. Willoughby can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.

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