Lisa Allen, 2021 Outstanding Women in Business recipient
Lisa Allen is the Chief Administrative Officer of Great NH Restaurants
Within six months, Lisa Allen progressed from food server to bartender and then assistant manager of T-BONES restaurant in Bedford. Upon graduating from UNH Manchester, she wrote a five-page letter to Great NH Restaurants CEO Tom Boucher about her observations and ideas to grow the business.
That’s how Lisa was offered a starting position in the home office for two hours per week in neighborhood marketing. Within one year, she had earned herself a full-time office position, handling payroll, marketing and assisting the company’s accountant.
These events occurred more than 20 years ago, but they’re illustrative of Lisa’s personal investment in every aspect of the Great NH Restaurants organization, where she now oversees all administrative operations (for up to 600 employees at one time), and has been an owner and member of the executive team for a decade.
What is your leadership style?
I am blessed to be surrounded by some of the greatest minds in our industry, not only in the partners I have on the Executive Leadership Team, but also in the restaurants, and especially those I work with daily in our corporate office. I would say my leadership style is to lead from my heart and teach from my mind. What I strive for in my leadership style actually aligns with several of our core values as a company.
Trust and Entrust: I trust each team member tremendously to do their jobs and do them well, and I make sure that I am behaving in a way that they, too, can trust me.
Respect: You will only get back what you put out.
Care and Understanding: I believe wholeheartedly that what makes our company so great is its people. When your greatest commodity is people, you always have to remember that the person matters more than the task at hand. We can generally, and pretty easily, fix mistakes we make in marketing, payroll, communication and accounting, but when you make a mistake in how you care, or don’t care for another human being, that may take years to repair, if ever.
Executing Greatness: I always say whatever you’re putting out there, pretend it has your name written in bold letters across it … before you send it out, ask yourself, is this my best work, and would I be OK with everyone knowing it came from me?
Do you have a mentor?
I have many mentors! Most would not even know they are a mentor to me in that I am a people watcher, and I try to absorb and learn from the best qualities in everyone.
With that said, in an opportunity like this, I have to mention my Mom and Dad, who always worked so hard and have showed me to keep pushing forward no matter the circumstance; my husband, who is so well-loved by many, always lifts me up and makes me want to be a better person; and Tom Boucher, our CEO, who has always listened to me with respect, and helped me recognize over the years that my voice and opinion have value.
What is a particular challenge you’ve overcome, and how did you navigate it?
With 2020 in the rearview mirror, the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic are the freshest in my mind. This pandemic has challenged me in every way: professionally, personally, physically, mentally, emotionally, and yet from it, I sit feeling great pride and tremendous gratitude.
Professionally, the restaurant industry has no doubt been one of the hardest hit industries, but what has come of our struggles has been amazing insight into just how valuable our teamwork is, how having such incredible longevity allows for greater trust in times of fear, how courage and innovation allow for continued growth and development even in the most unsure of times. I am so proud of our team(s).
Personally, I have had to become a teacher, a doctor, a therapist, on top of being a mom and wife, all while experiencing the highest level of stress I have ever had professionally. I took control of what has sometimes felt like an emotional spiral downwards for me by leaning on my husband and the strength of our relationship more than I ever have; leaning on my faith; keeping my family close both physically and in heart; leaning on my natural instinct to always move forward; journaling; maintaining friendships as much as possible; taking control of my physical and emotional health with better eating, exercise and sleeping habits; honesty about my needed boundaries; and less social media. I am a better employee, leader, mom, wife, human being for the challenges that 2020 presented me.