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2016 Men of the Year Honoree: Colin McAllister

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Colin McAllister tried retirement. It held limited appeal.

So last year, he started McAllister Coaching LLC, an outlet through which he coaches entrepreneurs, small-business owners and C-level executives.

“I decided to seek a way to pass on all the knowledge gained from my successes and failures acquired during a lifetime of business,” says McAllister, a native of Great Britain who holds dual American and British citizenship.

His experience spans decades and positions, from entrepreneur, technologist and accountant to corporate executive, consultant and sales and marketing strategist. McAllister’s view on leadership evolved over time.

“Over the years, I learned that there are two different methods of leadership,” he says. “In my early years, I used the command-and-control or my-way-or-the-highway approach, and it worked only to a point. One major negative result was high turnover.”

Twenty-five years ago, McAllister became familiar with the servant leader principle.

“By embracing this tenant, I realized everything in life was not about me,” he says. “A servant leader leaves his or her ego at the door. Motives in decision-making are not self-serving. They are for the benefit of others.”

McAllister started focusing on putting people first, freely sharing information, embracing feedback and opening the books. He says the key is getting the right people in the right seat on the bus and, as a leader, driving it forward. By embracing servant leadership, it has allowed him to influence employees and associates to follow him to achieve their common goals.

McAllister began his career at Barclays Bank International in 1962, serving in London, Central America and the Caribbean. Between 1967 and 1980, McAllister worked in various industries on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and also founded an accounting, tax, data processing and business consulting firm.

In the 1980s, he ran McAllister & Associates, an information technology solutions firm in West Hartford, Vt. In 1989, McAllister moved to the Ozarks to become CEO of Jack Henry & Associates Inc. He led a turnaround team that avoided layoffs and saved 215 jobs, a short-term assignment that ended in 1991.

That same year, McAllister founded DataTrade LLC to provide software and services to financial institutions and other corporations. When he sold the company in 2009, DataTrade had almost 1,000 customers in the United States and 11 foreign countries. The sale allowed McAllister to attempt retirement.

When that didn’t work, he formalized what he had been doing informally for many years: coaching people.

“I believe that by using all the knowledge gained in my 47 years in business and having been there, done that, I can give back and influence these individuals to grow their businesses, overcome obstacles and ultimately, be the best they can be,” McAllister says.

In addition to coaching, he maintains an active presence in local nonprofits. McAllister is a member of Convoy of Hope’s Founders Circle and has traveled, at his expense, to Convoy events around the country. He also is involved with a school in Haiti and regularly contributes supplies to Isabel’s House – a practice that inspired the organization to launch a program modeled on McAllister’s donations.

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