Finding the Edge – Episode #2

Do You Know How Your Client's Make The Decision To Buy What You Sell?

If you own a business or run a large operating unit inside a business, have you ever given any thought as to how your clients make that all important decision as to whether or not they will buy your product or service? What is it EXACTLY that triggers their buy / don’t buy button? Is it really price that controls their decision, or are other factors involved? Leaders need to know the difference.

CustomersWhat you need to know…

Believe it or not, the price is actually one of your prospect’s last considerations. Human nature says that no matter who buys what you sell, they will always want “the best deal.” That doesn’t mean the lowest price, but it does mean they want the most “VALUE” for the price they pay. The perception that your product or service offers extraordinary value controls their final decision.

Why you need to know this…

The key is to create “extraordinary value” as it relates to what you sell. In fact, if you do this, you can even charge a much higher price. Providing the right perception of value justifies the higher price. Unfortunately, most business owners don’t have a clue how to create “extraordinary value,” and therefore don’t offer it to their prospects, costing themselves massive market share and a boatload of lost revenue.

To create value, a business must “innovate.” You must understand the things your clients want from your product or service. Then use innovative ideas and solutions to either remove the pain and frustration the customer normally experiences. What you offer should be the solution to eliminating that pain for your customer. Once the prospect associates what you sell with a benefit they receive from using it, then you have extreme value.

For example, the daycare mom who feels frustrated and worried when she drops off her child at daycare because she doesn’t know how the child is being cared for finds tremendous relief and peace of mind (extraordinary value) when the daycare installs Web Watch… a 24 camera surveillance system that allows parents to view their child online, anytime.

The cost to you if you fail to act…

If you fail to create “extraordinary value,” then you look like, feel like and smell like your competition. You will be forever doomed to compete with them on price, and when you’re forced to compete on price, you have just lost the battle. There will always be someone willing to undercut your price… ALWAYS!

By innovating your business, you begin to separate your business from your competition. You begin to eliminate your competition from the minds of your prospects… and you will have your prospects literally saying to themselves that “I would be an absolute fool if I bought this from anyone else.”

Innovation attracts your “ideal” clients to your business. These are the clients that will buy more from you at premium prices. They will spend more money and buy from you over longer periods of time. Your revenue and profits begin to skyrocket as you begin to add unprecedented market share.

Look for ways to “innovate” your business and do so in such a way that you create extraordinary value in the minds of your prospects.

It’s Not Natural

Finding these innovative ideas is hard. I get that. So that is why I have partnered with a great team who has spent years and millions of dollars developing a systematized approach to doing just that; finding innovative ways to promote your business. I call it “Finding the Edge.”

When you take a look at what we offer here, you will see a comprehensive library of tools and resources to put your business into another gear. It’s all done for you. There is pre-written marketing copy that has been used by others like yourself, in other markets to drive increased leads, higher sales price, and improve return/repeat business. Any one of those factors alone can make a big difference, but imagine what it could mean to your business is you just got two or more working at the same time. We’ve seen increases of 50%, 100% and even 200% profitability.

To take a Test Drive on our system visit Finding the Edge

Here’s to your success!

P.S. Please remember that at any time you feel ready and qualified to move forward and acquire the professional help that can enable you to build the business of your dreams, just click here and check out our E-Learning Marketing System™. It’s helping small business owners just like you get the answers and the help they need to build the business they have always wanted.

We created the E-Learning Marketing System™ with the perfect combination of online resources, tools, and support to get you out of any financial distress you’re presently experiencing… help you get laser-focused on your highest income-producing activities… and help you develop and then apply the fundamentals that build multimillion dollar businesses. Click here to see for yourself.

PPS – Oh and by the way. Acess to this amazing system normally runs for $197 per month. I am doing a year-end/new year promotion offering this whole package for just $97 per month. Imagine getting all the benefit of having your very own, done for you, marketing system to push your business to the next level; all for just $97 per month.

 

ACT NOW though, this won’t be here after the first of the year,

Are You Thankful?

Tomorrow in the U.S. we will celebrate our annual Thanksgiving. It will be a time for families to gather to share a lot of food. The special recipes that have been handed down will be prepared, stories will be told (often getting embellished along the way), children will tear through rooms playing all sorts of games, a little football may get watched or at least will be droning on the screen somewhere, and there will be all around good times.

Giving thanks

The spirit of the season, at least the way I was taught, was to stop for a moment and reflect on the people, things, and blessings that have been richly bestowed upon us. A time for genuine thanksgiving. regardless of how good or how hard the past year had been. There is always something for which we can give thanks.

Being thankful

That’s a mindset you may not see very often. Yet, some of the most successful people I know have made it a discipline in their lives to never forget about being thankful.

There is something about keeping a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness that keeps you grounded; keeps you centered. Leaders, real leaders, who rise to the “top” of their given field always have people around them for whom they should be thankful. As soon as you stop being thankful for the ones who help you accomplish things, well, I argue you have started to lose the title “leader”.

When someone on your team makes a contribution, there should be recognition and gratitude. You don’t have to overdo it. There doesn’t have to be a certificate or a plaque inscribed. But a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way.

The same is true at home with your family. Are you thankful for those around you at home? Have you found the enjoyment in loving them, knowing them, and recognizing their contributions to your life? Be thankful.

To my readers

Having said the above, I want to be clear and say THANK YOU to all of you who spend a valuable moment of your day to read this blog. I am keenly aware of the competition for your attention.

I don’t always try to stay edgy or controversial. My intent is to be helpful and to serve. If my articles can cause you to ponder a thought for just a moment, perhaps to inspire a small change in your leadership style or life, then I am blessed.

This blog is not for my glory or fame. It is for YOU, the reader. My hope is that you find something in here somewhere that can give you a lift for the day. Maybe it will give you a shift for looking at things a different way. And maybe the topics we share here can help grow as a leader so that you can make a difference right where you are.

Have a great Thanksgiving. Please know that I am thankful for you.

 

If you like this post, please share it with friends. Use the buttons on the website or forward it. Like us on Facebook

Leadership: Finding a Good Fit

Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to identify “good fit” during their hiring process. Candidate selection is driven by the magical, mystical notion of making a good fit decision.

Clearly, the first step usually involves matching job description requirements with the candidate’s stated background experience. Right away, the matching process starts to break down because so much screening is now contingent on keyword matching, and not much else.

Even if resume screening works well, the next step takes the candidate through an interview process. Here’s where it really gets fun.

First, well-coached candidates can ace interviews while really not bringing much value to the company. Poorly trained hiring managers, who only occasionally may conduct interviews, (i.e. it’s not their full-time job) do not possess the right skills for getting maximum value from the interview process. So the “good fit” effort takes yet another hit.

With these two key areas suffering, the station of last resort is the look and feel test. Does the candidate look and feel like the right person for the job? Sadly, this often takes us back to the untrained interviewer who merely decides to hire someone who looks like or thinks like they do, assuming that alignment of core values and ideals will work.

Struck any nerves yet?

Have I touched any nerves yet? How’s your good fit guy doing so far?

Yes, good fit selection is a far more complex challenge for companies and their job seeker candidates. Even more important is the unit manager who gets involved in the selection process.

Finding true good fit requires the ability to properly identify what that means to the company and the team. Jim Collins in his “Good to Great” talks about this challenge as ‘getting the right people on the bus’. Once your company defines its core value and vision, there will be key individuals with unique talent who can make things happen. Hiring anyone short of that impacts the final outcome, not to mention the headache and liability of releasing a “bad fit” employee.

The popular Entrepreneurs Operating System or “EOS” describes doing a kind of per seat analysis throughout the organization. First, you tie the roles and responsibilities off each workstation to the overall company mission/vision. You set a value for each position; value contributed to the company or worth of each slot. Then and only then, do you take a look at the person filling that seat or being recruited for the seat. Does the person have the skills and abilities to deliver on the expectations you previously defined for that position? Now that is fit.

Solutions

There are several emerging ways companies are trying to do more for good fit hiring. Here are a few of the main ideas.

Basic Skills Testing

Many of my client companies have developed basic skills testing to determine a candidates ability to meet baseline requirements. Sadly, there are companies that need good solid workers with basic skills, but too few job seekers can demonstrate core skills like reading, math, and simple logic.

One president of a local manufacturer told me he’s adopted both a skills test and one VERY basic math question for every interview. He takes a piece of paper and writes a five digit number like 52,698. He hands that to the candidate and asks “what is 10% of that number?” This executive swears that after conducting maybe 800 interviews in his career, less than 100 candidates could answer that question. [The answer is 5,269.8]

At one of the companies I owned, we developed a test for job seekers. We had a sample file folder that had numerous documents pertaining to the work we did. The seeker was given a checklist and told to find the applicable document from the folder, stack the file according to the checklist, and tell us if something was missing. A person with reasonable skills could finish the file in 20 minutes. Anyone who didn’t really know the work had no way to fake it.

Personality Traits

Ever since Karl Jung first developed his 4 part personality classification system, there have been spin-off theories that are widely adopted by major corporations. These include DISC, Myers Briggs MBTI (R), and Birkman testing. While the Jung-based psychology gives interesting personality indicators, the complexities of human thinking and its far-reaching impact in the workplace can only be counted as a starting point. Whether someone scores an INTJ or ENFT will only go so far in helping a manager make a good fit decision.

The whole notion of personality assessment having a scale for introvert versus extrovert is under heavy scrutiny now. There is a body of work being studied that suggests “ambiverts” (people who demonstrate either both tendency depending on the situation) represent a bigger segment of the workforce, plus they have been proven to be better performers.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence testing or “EI” has become a popular topic for defining and exploring better fit conditions. We probably know people who are masters at managing their emotions. They don’t get angry in stressful situations. Instead, they have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They’re excellent decision makers, and they know when to trust their intuition. Regardless of their strengths, however, they’re usually willing to look at themselves honestly. They take criticism well, and they know when to use it to improve their performance.

People like this have a high degree of emotional intelligence or EI. They know themselves very well, and they’re also able to sense the emotional needs of others.

Leadership in Placement

For example, one large cosmetics company recently revised their hiring process for salespeople to choose candidates based on their EI. The result? People hired with the new system have sold, on average, $91,000 more than salespeople selected under the old system. There has also been significantly lower staff turnover among the group chosen for their EI.

Cultural Fit

Companies seeking to define their own culture must identify candidates who fit that culture. Whether the elements are work ethic, training, expertise, or attitude, the company’s culture helps define fit.

From Entrepreneur Magazine :

There’s no denying that cultural fit is important but make sure you actually know what it is before judging candidates. It’s easy to mistake cultural fit for personal biases — just because you wouldn’t mind being stuck in an airport with a candidate doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a great fit for your company.

A candidate’s approach shouldn’t be so divisive that it creates rifts among employees, but you shouldn’t be afraid to hire somebody whose personality clashes with your own. If you perceive that a candidate would make a meaningful contribution to your company while maintaining decorum, that candidate might be a cultural match.

If you have doubts about making a career change, take my free assessment. Find out exactly where you stand.

The Bigger Question

Good fit ultimately comes down to being able to harness the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection. Managers tapping into the hearts and minds of their team will yield the greatest results. Having employees who are not open to contributing at that level will never be a good fit.

Using the tools mentioned above can give insight into ways people might fit well with your team. However, your own ability as the leader to direct, inspire and instill fit within your team is your biggest task.

Question: How do you and your company manage to find the right fit?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Calling All Remote Workers

Since 2000 there has been a growing trend to let workers do their duties remotely; telecommuting it was once called. With the availability of so much good technology, it seemed extra generous of employers to allow workers to avoid the hassles of doing a daily commute. The company saved on facilities expense. While the trend grew steadily for a number of years, there is now a reversal happening.

Work at Home

Between 2012 and 2016, the share of employees who spend 80% or more of their time working remotely grew from 24% to 31%, according to a survey from Gallup. Some 59% of business executives said that more than half of their companies’ full-time workforce would be remote by 2020, per the results of a 2014 survey at London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit.

But not all business leaders are in favor of this trend. In May, IBM told thousands of its remote employees that they needed to return to a regional office or leave the company, Fox Business reported. Last year, insurance giant Aetna began to cut back on its work-from-home program due to concerns regarding collaboration. And in 2013, Yahoo ended its telecommuting program shortly after the beginning of former CEO Marissa Mayer’s tenure with the company.

Smaller businesses who jumped on the bandwagon are now getting off. I received a question from one of my readers who said:

…  love to see something on how to move people “ back to the office”. Many companies are doing that now since [much of their] collaborative energy has been lost as more and more people work remote from home. Is their a best practice on how to [make this recall] to limit impact on morale? 

I didn’t want to jump on this grenade by myself, so I consulted a few of my colleagues who also have successful executive coaching practices. Here are some of the issues to consider (in no particular order).

Mastering the Commute

The original reason many employers ventured down this rabbit hole was to assist workers by lessening commute times. In large metropolitan areas, daily commutes can consume 2 to 5 hours for workers. That doesn’t leave room for any family life. By eliminating the grind of a daunting commute, workers can spend time with family in a.m., get a good breakfast and be “at work” by whatever start time you declare.

The Commute

On the flip side, shutting down in the p.m. involves a simple flip of a switch and a short walk to the kitchen to say hello to kids and spouses.

By reversing the policy and asking workers to return to central facilities, you invoke the dreaded commute. As an employer, even though it’s not your fault where your people choose to live, if they’ve gotten used to no commute, the shift back may be more egregious than you think.

It Gets More Complicated

There are numerous pros and cons of telecommuting. Ultimately the primary factors that determine whether an employees experience with working remotely is successful or not involves that person’s natural personality and needs for feedback.

We have plenty of workers who want the camaraderie of working inside a team. They feed off the energy and vibe of the team around them. Team chemistry can become a perk for many employees.

If a good esprit de corps is established within the workgroup when everyone is together, you get a bonus incentive for the workers who want and need such feedback.

On the other side of that coin is the worker who likes going solo. A personality that is a little more introverted may appreciate the solitude of being able to do their work without disruptive chatter and buzz around them.

It’s not easy to accurately determine which camp all employees fall into. It has been reported that even some workers who seemed like they would be OK working alone are reporting a problem with the solitude after an extended absence from the team setting. This can be explained by the new thinking about ambivert personalities. An ambivert is someone who, depending on the situation, switches between being an extrovert and introvert.

Management’s Trust Factor

All too often I hear managers expressing concerns about whether their people are “really” working. For a boss who is prone to go there first, you may have some trust issues, my friend. If you and your company do not have accountability and productivity measures figured out, then yes, I get it. Remote workers would be a problem for you. However, if you are missing those indicators, you likely don’t know any more information about the people sitting outside your door either.

Any owner or executive who agrees to let workers stay at home must decide on what they will do to create and maintain visibility for consistent delivery of company mission/vision and value propositions.

The person in charge needs to check their motives for wanting everyone back in the office after remote commuting has been the policy. Unwinding that arrangement must be done for the best of reasons. A manager, partner, owner or principal should never ask people to give up the freedom of the remote work for bad ideas like ego, and their own control issues. Hiding behind thinly veiled ideas won’t work. Here are the excuses I know about:

  • We work better together
  • We need the chemistry
  • We need the energy of being able to collaborate

Perhaps remote delegation should have never been allowed in the first place.

What About the Office Culture?

Even if you get everyone to come back together, you as the boss may not be creating the optimum operating environment. I’ve seen too many smaller businesses with a so-called entrepreneurial spirit that are just nut houses (pardon me). The principals lead the pack with a wired and frenzied climate where meetings run too long too often, minds get changed too much, and direction is scattered at best.

Good employees will never suffer that environment for long. If a good and talented worker likes the mission and the work but hates the way the boss treats everyone, working from home is a sanctuary. It will be next to impossible to unwind that scenario.

After all, it’s been said

In the End

It’s all about setting clear expectations. Not all managers know enough about leadership to be able to do this. The leader must be able to articulate clear, concise expectations about work demands. Then you need to stick with them.

If you do end up deciding that you generally want people limiting their working from home to one day a week, I’d say this:

I want to talk to you about our work from home policy. In general, I prefer people to work from home no more than _____ days a week, because of (give your reasons). On rare occasions, I’m willing to approve more than that, but I’d like the default to be no more than ____ a week. I realize I didn’t clarify this earlier, and you haven’t done anything wrong by doing it more often, but going forward, please stick to this guideline.

Also, say this now rather than just rejecting their next work from home request and explaining it then. This is a big-picture conversation to have since they’re now used to doing it a different way, not something to spring on them the next time it comes up.

Leadership : #MeToo vs Improving Personal Accountability

Personal accountability is a wide and somewhat confusing concept. When it comes to leadership, the best leaders not only embrace personal accountability, but they demand it.

Sadly, the headlines today contain stories about cover-ups and sexual improprieties (that’s me being very nice about it). Celebrities, athletes, politicians, key executives, and others are being “found out”. Those who are reported allegedly engaged in bad acts that included theft, fraud, sexual abuses, and collusion, just to name a few.

The #MeToo movement is not limited to the entertainment world. It reaches the boardrooms and back rooms of many of our best respected corporate brands. [Writer’s note: in case you are wondering, the #MeToo movement hit Twitter after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. People who had been sexually assaulted were encouraged to tweet simply #MeToo.].

It seems that the old saying is still true:

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

People in power take license with the authority that comes with their position. When the power is abused as in lording it over those with whom you work, whether for sexual favor or financial twisting, it is still wrong. So what is the remedy, the fix?

Personal Accountability

Large corporations and many smaller businesses have built-in accountabilities for things like accounting, finance, compliance, and other regulatory mandates. Yet the integrity of the leadership is left somewhat unchecked. Yes, there are Boards who write morality clauses into employment contracts. People are fired for violation of those clauses. Great for the Board who demanded that control. Unfortunately, the presence of these controls is seen in only a few cases.

When there is a contractual clause, there is accountability of a statutory nature. The person subject to such control may or may not be very influenced by its presence. If the leader’s tendency is to conduct bad acts, they will figure out ways to do it in secret. The secret only lasts so long.

Accountability must begin in the heart. A moral compass must be engaged that prevents any such bad act. The best leader has long ago figured out what, when and how to establish their own personal system of accountability.

Over the years I’ve had the good fortune of knowing a group of business leaders who started very young making pledges to one another for accountability. They met regularly and shared the temptations they faced. If one member was slipping, the group lifted them up (figuratively). They routinely reaffirmed the pledge for proper conduct. The discipline grew. As they rose in prominence in their respective professions, the habits for accountability became the foundation of integrity. To this day these leaders enjoy reputations for good character and high standards of integrity.

Accountable

I argue this came from a discipline adopted at that early stage of their career. They made decisions long ago about the right ways to act.

Fighting the Beast

The coin here definitely has two sides; at least if you try to be objective. As I began preparing this article, I spoke with several close confidants. Even within this small sampling, the extremes on the scale revealed thoughts I had never considered.

One executive, a male, expressed total frustration with the dynamic. While he couldn’t deny the presence of a small percentage of male managers with horrible reputations for sexual harassment, he was equally appalled by the presence of females who cry foul without a real threat.

My friend contends, at a minimum, the line gets blurry. What action at work, physical or verbal, can be construed to be harmful? What about the office dating that has led to marriages that work. Yes, many do not, but plenty do. In the story above, my friend, a life-long HR professional said that he’s even heard complaints about “Susie, you look nice today.” Where is the line?

Managers have been sunk by false allegations of impropriety, careers ruined, yet there was no recourse. The consensus was, trust the female’s complaint. My friend’s summary statement was “there are some crazy people out there.”

On the other extreme, a female entrepreneur I know just happened to be writing her own story about the #MeToo movement. In her version she states yes, she’s been the ‘victim’ of actions that could be taken as sexually explicit, but she admits never being forced into being violated. While she’s had her own experience with men making statements and doing things like reaching and groping, she calls it a blessing to have never had to experience what many other women are now revealing.

While acknowledging this smaller segment of bad actors, she chooses to stake a claim on the men who have been mentors, champions, coaches, and supporters of her career. She says the ‘good guy’ population is much larger (thankfully). She even goes so far as to say we should add a #WeToo alternative to the #MeToo campaign. i.e. for every woman who has felt threatened, there are probably two or more who have been encouraged and helped by male influence.

If you need help building your own system for personal accountability, consider joining a Mastermind group like those we host at HeadwayExec.

In the end

It all comes back to moral character or decay. Which direction are you heading? If you are a leader (male or female) have you established your own moral high ground from which you choose to operate? In small entrepreneurial shops, you may get away with being a hugging kind of person, but larger corporate settings may not allow such behavior. Regardless, the boundaries have to be set.

Boundary setting is not just for your employees to protect themselves from you, but boundaries you choose never to cross. As an example, I know one male leader who will not permit private, one-on-one meetings with female staffers. It doesn’t matter how long the employee has been there, if a woman wants to meet with him, there will be another party in the room. That may be extreme, but I can tell you it has earned him a high degree of respect. People don’t even try to share an off-color story with him. He wants a straight narrow line shining brightly in his organization. His people respect that and want to work there.

Do they have fun? Yes, they do. It’s the kind of fun everyone can enjoy. The business thrives.

Question: What have you done to establish accountability and raise your own standards for office behavior? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

 

E-Myth Revisited (for Everyone)

Discovering your WHY

Michael E. Gerber’s works called the E-Myth seek to define entrepreneurship and business leadership. As I study those volumes, I find some key essentials that apply to every business executive, owner or aspiring manager. For many, the E-Myth has become a bible of business success and growth.

You have to start with WHY. Gerber’s work even pre-dates Simon Sinek‘s epic book “Find Your Why”. When a business leader, whether owner or employee, finds their ‘why’, it is like putting a match to a huge bonfire swirling with passion, excitement, commitment, and drive. Without why we collect paychecks and produce less than exciting outcomes. Without the why we merely survive.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an employee, a leader of a team or division or you want to tackle the WHY of your entire organization, discovering the WHY injects passion into your work. And it’s those who start with WHY that have the ability to inspire those around them.

If you’ve ever started a business or taken on a new career challenge or even a major life change, you realize YOU must be something more. Your perception of the new role carries a weight that demands more. Getting to “more” requires a form of change. Whether you like it or not, this essential change is what causes the greatest hurdles to successfully making the move.

Consciously or subconsciously, you know a change is needed, but how and where do you start with that change? I like what both writers mentioned above have to say about WHY. Finding your why is the center of the answer for the change.

If you pursue a change without knowing your why, you are just shooting in the dark. Yes, you might be able to make some logical decisions about the change that has to happen, yet even if you adopt those changes, your results may be less than rewarding.

Finding your why is vital to growing a business or rising to the next level in life. Take my FREE Career Satisfaction Survey.

Here’s a story

Two years ago I wanted to do more about my physical condition. I was getting older, less flexible and packing on a few too many pounds. I definitely sensed the need for change. I chose to join a program that helped me accomplish my goals. I didn’t just hire a coach, but I essentially hired a whole culture of change. The fitness program and the gym itself was off the chart (I loved it). What they taught about eating and food content also made sense to me; not just some radically weird diet like eating cardboard wrappers off cereal boxes.

With my own commitment to the program, I did exactly what I had hoped to do. I lost almost 25 pounds, changed pant sizes twice, and generally felt better. Plus it was a program that stuck. But do you want to know the real reason it worked? They insisted I find my why before I ever started. They didn’t want my membership fees unless I could explain my own why.

Where have you ever seen that in a gym program? It made all the difference. Oh, and my why was about connecting with the legacy I want to have with my 7 grandkids. I knew I needed to fix some health issues before I could expect to be around for their graduations and weddings.

What is YOUR Why?

You may have read some of the books or heard Simon Sinek’s great TED talk, but have you done the work? Have you figured out your why? Finding your why is not as difficult as you might think.

The process to find your why often requires taking a look back at some signposts in your life. Seeing the history of where you have been and what you have done can go a long way to helping you discover your why. What experiences did the most to inspire and energize you?

Ask yourself some questions

We should take a step back and ask ourselves some questions. You can start by asking yourself a few of these:

  • Why is it that you do what you do?
  • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
  • What does a great day look like?
  • What does success look like beyond the paycheck?
  • What does real success feel like for you?
  • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

You could also ask yourself these follow-up questions:

  • What do you hate about your current job role or career?
  • Why don’t you do something else?
  • What does a bad day look like?
  • What is it you don’t enjoy about your job and why?
  • What does failure look like beyond the paycheck?
  • What does real failure feel like for you?

Once again, it’s essential that you know your professional purpose before you tackle your personal brand. If you don’t take control of your brand image and who you are, someone else will.

Often, the simple process of taking a step back and taking stock of where you are at and where you want to go can answer a raft of questions that can point your professional career in a more meaningful and satisfying direction.

Question: Have you found your why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

If the effort to find your why has left you searching, perhaps a coach can help. Not just any coach, but someone who has the training, experience, and passion (their own why) to come alongside and help.

 

Leading in Life: Survive or Thrive

Leadership in life and business is about influencing others to achieve something; hit a goal, make a mark, win a prize. Usually, we think about leadership in terms of doing something special. But being “special” is not a natural human condition.

In a recent interview, Alabama football coach Nick Saban made these remarks:

The human condition is programmed to survive. That’s how we got here. It is not natural to perform at a special level for an extended period of time. If you want to be on top, you have to figure out how to be and stay special. You must work to thrive rather than just survive.”

Think about that for a moment. As a tribe, we came from a heritage of living and working to survive. “Survival of the fittest,” they say. Scientific studies support that idea. Our brains are wired for fight or flight reactions to threats around us. If we choose to flee the scene, we are trying to survive. If flight is not an option, as in the foe to too fast or too strong, we have no choice but to fight. Usually, the fight is not to win for winning’s sake, but to win to survive.

The way we think and the emotions we feel that have survival value will then produce behaviors that increase our chances of survival. Our “fight-or-flight” reaction may be the best-known expression of our survival instinct. This response set is triggered when we (and all animals) perceive a situation as a threat to our existence; our sympathetic nervous system activates rapid emotional, psychological, and physical changes.

Emotionally, we feel either fear or anger intensely. Psychologically, our senses are heightened, and we’re able to make faster decisions. Physically, we get a shot of adrenaline, our heart rate increases, blood flow is diverted to essential parts of the body, and we experience increased strength and stamina. Without these essential changes, our primitive forbears would have died, their genes wouldn’t have been passed on.

Thankfully, you likely don’t have that direct survival challenge each and every day, at least not in terms of dying. Yet we all face uphill battles that test our sense of survival. So the question is whether you choose to merely survive the day or do something special.

Survive or Thrive

Employment statistics tell us the average workforce is not all that engaged. The average employee recommends their workplace at a 3.2 / 5, according to Glassdoor ratings. That’s a measly 64% confidence rating. Companies performing above this are not necessarily large or small or in a particularly “sexy” industry. Rather, they are focused on their people.

If you look at Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work you see companies of all size, all industry, and all ages. The reason is that employee engagement is not a simple thing: it takes leadership commitment, investment, and a complete and integrated focus.

This translates into large populations of workers merely trying to survive; punch the clock, get the paycheck, feed and shelter ourselves and our families, then do it all over again.

To go back to Nick Saban’s remarks, there is a small percentage who choose to be special. They do this by doing more. They establish daily routines for health and welfare that include fitness, mental health, technical expertise, and personal growth.

Whatever personal predisposition you may have, becoming the owner of a business or the manager of a work team forces your hand. Will you survive or thrive?

Taking on Leadership

When you assume the role of leader within any group setting, you not only have to produce personal performance, but you become responsible for group performance as well. Saban’s role as a coach puts him in the hot seat for that “special” performance he describes. In this case, it is winning national football championships. He’s done it both at LSU and now at Alabama.

People outside of Saban’s programs study his methods for achieving high performance that is both repeatable and sustainable. In business, those are key characteristics that any business leader should aspire to have. We need performance that is repeatable, scalable, and sustainable.

Repeatable – allows you to do it again. If you have a great month or great quarter, can it become a great year? If you have a great year, can you do it again next year?

Scalable – is your system and platform scalable for growth? Can you replicate what you do in such a way that you can increase capacity without losing efficiency and effectiveness?

Sustainable – this is the extension of repeatable. You might repeat success once or twice, but can you do it multiple times.

Creating a System and a Process

The key to achieving these special results comes from establishing a system and a process by which great things can happen. Yes, Nick Saban recruits capable and talented athletes, as you should too in your business. Finding the right employees to plug into your system is critical. However, having a room full of gifted employees will not result in high performance without a system and a process to get you there.

Systems

As the leader, you must either create the system yourself or learn to use the system that exists. If you are the owner/founder of the enterprise, either you develop the system or you engage an expert at execution who can design it. If you are a senior manager/executive, you must embrace what has been designed.

If you suspect the system is flawed, you can work with the creator of the system to make changes or you can choose to abandon the effort and take your talents some other place.

Football coaches like Nick Saban expect the assistant coaches to follow his system, make subtle changes appropriate to the details they are responsible for, but stay true to the system. If the assistant doesn’t agree, then they won’t stay there long (see the long list of coaches who have worked for Saban).

In upcoming articles, we will explore the things that make an effective system work.

Question: What sort of system do you use to achieve special performance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Important Characteristics Every Entrepreneur Must Have

Are you planning to start and run your own business? Do you know the right qualifications and characteristics an entrepreneur must have to succeed? Does your profile match that of a successful entrepreneur? In this article, we will explore and discuss the essential characteristics that every entrepreneur must have. There are several important traits and values that are common among successful entrepreneurs.

entrepreneurshipBefore you go and start your enterprise, it will be very helpful to think and reflect whether you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. If not, you can also start developing these character traits.

Successful Entrepreneurs are Self-Confident – to succeed in the highly competitive business world, confidence and trust in oneself is an indispensable trait. Self-confidence means trusting your own powers and capabilities. The world of entrepreneurship is not without failure and disappointment. To survive in such a cutthroat world, an entrepreneur must have the ability to look within himself and find the drive and persistence to pursue his dreams. An entrepreneur must have the gumption to face any adversity and tackle any problems that may be encountered in the world of business.

It may take time for your idea to take root. You will encounter plenty of people who will discourage you. They may even challenge your character for even “thinking such a thing” (as your idea). Having self-confidence can protect you from much of the negative energy that may come your way.

Successful Entrepreneurs are Risk-takers – being an entrepreneur means having the ability to trust your hunches and acting on them. Great business ideas sometimes start as a hunch which enterprising individuals act upon. There is always the risk of loss in any endeavor, and entrepreneurs have just the right confidence to take calculated risks to achieve their objective. However, an entrepreneur’s risk-taking does not depend on luck, but on sheer effort and hard work.

Risk must be measured against reward. There is no need to be a dare-devil. But there is a good reason to accept some amount of risk in order to achieve your goals.

Successful Entrepreneurs know the value of money and are careful about their finances – to succeed in any business; an entrepreneur must understand the value of money and the cost of things. Typically, successful entrepreneurs learned how to earn and value money at a young age. Most of them started out by earning loose change as teenagers mowing lawns, doing groceries, babysitting for neighbors, etc.

Successful entrepreneurs have the so-called head for business – many entrepreneurs are gifted with intuition: they know what product or service is going to ‘click’ next. However, this ability does not involve clairvoyance or extrasensory powers of some sort, but rather, keen observation and understanding of what is going on around him. A good entrepreneur is always on the lookout for new ideas and new ways to make money.

Sometimes though, the entrepreneurial idea is not enough to win success. You need counsel for things you may not know about running a business. It is often said many start-up founders don’t know what they don’t know. Seeking out a reliable mentor is a good practice for helping to shorten the learning curve. Making early mistakes can be costly, if not fatal to your business. Surrounding yourself with trusted advisers can create a safety net.

Successful Entrepreneurs are competitive – the world of business is a very competitive environment. An entrepreneur must be aggressive enough to pursue his goal despite having many rivals and competitors. An entrepreneur must know how to stay ahead of his competitors, either by introducing new ideas and exploring new ventures, all in the spirit of expanding his business.

There is a big difference between being competitive and arrogant. A strong will to win is fine, but should not bleed over into an egotistical arrogance. Ego will block the ability to take feedback and input from those who want you to win. Be competitive, but be sensitive to the temptation to get carried away with the attitude.

Successful Entrepreneurs are honorable and have a good work ethic – although it is a fact that the business world is ruthless, the successful entrepreneur will strive to make every business deal honorable. The mark of a successful entrepreneur lies in a good personal work ethic that ultimately leads to good business practices, excellent reputation and good association with industry peers and business partners.

Becoming a business owner people can trust carries a great long-term value. The reputation you build is as important as the earnings you gather along the way. Your reputation will allow you to build other businesses at a later stage.

Successful Entrepreneurs know the importance of leisure time – hard work and determination are very important values every entrepreneur must have. However, a good entrepreneur knows when it’s time to take a step back from all the rigors of business and enjoy some downtime with their family. Besides, we all do need a little relaxation to refresh the body and mind before plunging back into the challenging (and stressful) world of business.

I like to call this time “re-calibration”. The stress and pressure of the daily grind demand periods of rest and recovery. Miss this and your endurance will suffer, if not your health.

SUMMARY

These are just seven of the most important characteristics of an entrepreneur. Of course, the characteristics every entrepreneur must have are not limited to the ones mentioned here. Having these characteristics is not a guarantee that an entrepreneur will be successful. Yet with these characteristics, an entrepreneur has just the right ingredients for success. All one needs to do is to find the right mix of these values, excellent timing, perhaps a bit of luck and, of course, faith in oneself.

So, do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? Go over these characteristics and values again. Ask yourself if you are ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge.

Question: Do you think you have what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Leaders: Are You Equipping Others?

We are a tribal species. The human race thrives best when groups of people live, work, and act in support of one another. Yes, differences can arise, but for the most part, we achieve the best when we operate within a group. Leaders who focus on equipping others can build the better tribes.

Equipping the tribe

Equipping the tribe

To lead such a group requires not just personal accomplishment, but group advancement too. Becoming a better person is not limited to the leader’s responsibility alone. The leader must be able to equip others within the organization to grow and prosper. There are different kinds of growth to consider. The levels of equipping for this growth change depending upon the subject. Here are a few areas to find.

  • Growth in knowledge and understanding for a task
  • Increase in personal sense of achievement
  • Basic prosperity
  • Sense of well-being, belonging

Leaders have the daunting task of doing the equipping of those in their tribe so that members of the team make appropriate contributions to the group as a whole. The best question a business leader can ask is team is “how can I help you?” That matter opens the door for productive growth discussions. It builds trust and allows the group member to express needs for ways to make the team and the business better.

Starting with that simple question begins the process of equipping your team, your tribe, your community with ways to grow and thrive.

Growth in knowledge and understanding for a task

For any employee or associate to make the best contribution to the greater good, they must be equipped with the basic understanding of the work they have been assigned to do. Yes, we often hire skill sets that we believe can make the right choices. However, every business has its own set of process and procedures to follow so that the outcome is consistent. You must equip individual team members with the knowledge of those requirements.

This is why training is such a big deal at most companies. We train about the process, procedure, regulatory matters, safety, production, and so on. Growing your team’s understanding of these things allows them to operate in proper accord with your vision and mission. Otherwise, they might be doing things that are functionally correct, but inconsistent with your brand’s objectives.

If I’m supposed to fry a quarter pound hamburger patty, but I make them half a pound instead, the customer may be happy, but my burger hut won’t last long. Conversely, if the patty is just a few ounces, not a full quarter pound, the customer may be angry. Again, my little burger hut won’t last long. If I teach my team to make fantastic quarter-pound hamburgers with just the right ratio of meat to bun, then I can build a brand that attracts repeat business from happy customers.

Growth in personal sense of achievement

Much is written and studied these days about employee engagement. The most frequently rated topic is the notion of an individual sense of accomplishment. People want to come to work or to their tribe setting able to be rewarded with a sense of doing something meaningful. It makes good common sense. People think if what I do doesn’t mean anything, why should I do it. It’s wiring in the brain folks.

As leaders, we can encourage our team to do more by equipping them with this sense of achievement. This cannot be a false accolade, as people smell that a mile away. No, it has to be real, practical, and meaningful acknowledgment for things done well and done right. Nothing should be taken for granted.

The way you as a leader communicate the accomplishments of a team means a lot. You need to do it in group settings and individually with your team. I am an advocate for a management practice called Big 5. It sets a framework and a process by which employees (or any team members like volunteer organizations) can make routine, monthly reports of the things they think are accomplishments. The manager reviews the reports and sets a time to go over the details of the person, every month. It allows a routine for talking about individual achievement. Companies and organizations who have adopted Big 5 have seen employee engagement rise significantly.

Leaders offering a framework like Big 5 can prove they are equipping their people with ways to experience a personal sense of achievement.

Basic prosperity

The leader’s role in equipping their followers with an underlying sense of well-being is, in my mind, a tricky subject. I mean how much can I, as a leader, worry about making someone happy. The answer is I cannot. However, I can build an environment for my team wherein there is a sense of worth and a sense of growth that happens.

A leader must engage their followers in ways to recognize their individuality while still showing a way for them to have a meaningful place on the team (see above). To the extent that you and your company can impact financial prosperity, you must do so. It is the reward for the individual’s contribution to the work effort. Success though is not limited to financial matters.

The mental environment is critical too. Stress, pressure, and outside distractions must be controlled as much as possible by the leader. Equipping your team with a healthy environment for doing their work adds to a sense of prosperity.

Sense of well-being, belonging

Lastly, if we as leaders can equip our followers with a healthy sense of belonging, they will become faithful followers of our cause. This is not cult-like following, but stable, efficient building of the climate for helping your tribe want to belong. When your followers are happy they are there, you will achieve more and see better results. It will make people want to show up each day, ready to get to work, whatever that effort may be.

Again, this is not limited to the traditional workplace. These principles apply to the community, church, and even home life.

Question: In what others ways can you think of ideas for equipping your team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Boundarylessness – What Is It?

Advice to Leaders

Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, had a term he liked to share with his executive team. The word was “Boundarylessness”. What he meant was each leader should explore the boundaries they have set for themselves; the artificial limits placed in the heart of man. These limiting thoughts need to be eliminated. He wanted no boundaries to hold back the leader’s effort. He implored people to operate with this mindset of “boundarylessness”.

Boundary

Boundary

Boundarylessness is a literal concept. The word means what it says: eliminate boundaries within an organization or a team to create universal ownership of the organization’s overall mission. The concept is to create an open, sharing climate that seeks to harness the combined strength of the business. (See August 20, 2008, posting “Accessing Collective Intelligence.”)

Boundarylessness has proved notably effective in bringing individuals together, cutting across business functions and organizational hierarchies to spark innovation and initiative.

Boundarylessness, speed, and stretch are three “soft” philosophical concepts that Welch used to create mental paradigm shifts at the individual level, leading to behavioral changes that delivered hard business results to GE’s bottom line.

Welch encountered TREMENDOUS resistance to his attempt to streamline G.E. so it could compete in a 21st-century global economy. Over and over Welch was told: we have no more to give, there is no better way, we have done all we can do. Time after time Welch insisted there was a better way: go back, try again. Try differently, not just harder. Drop the “it can’t be done” mindset, know that there is a better way somewhere.

Boundaryless behavior has led to an obsession for finding a better way——a better idea——be its source a colleague, another GE business, or another company across the street or on the other side of the globe that will share its ideas and practices…. Zero-sum-thinking did not foresee the immense reservoir of creativity and energy that flows from an engaged work force. – Jack Welch

What Are Some Boundaries?

Anyone who takes on a management and leadership role must know the boundaries they carry. Too often as I open a coaching assignment, I find the person I am helping has a deep collection of very limiting thoughts. You know, the ideas planted in your head by a parent, a sibling, a teacher, or your first boss. Thoughts include statements like:

  • You can’t do that
  • You’re too small
  • You’re too slow
  • You don’t know enough about that
  • You have no experience
  • You have no education
  • Someone else can do that better
  • You failed before
  • We’ve always done it this way.

As some of these very damaging and negative thoughts take root in your consciousness, the natural reaction is to follow the path. Go down the rabbit hole and land at the absolute bottom.

Paint a Different Picture

The remedy is to take the path Welch chose. As a leader we must paint a different picture, challenging the limiting thought with a better belief system. You could think of it as reprogramming. If a thought pattern has emerged in your life, one that sets a boundary on what you can do, you must terminate it.

At GE they proved you can re-imagine the way forward. By intentionally killing off each negative idea, one by one, people can be convinced to begin thinking a new way.

So What?

What are the limiting thoughts, those pesky boundaries, that need to be stamped out in your life? Whether at work or at home, what are the ideas that reverberate in your mind, day after day, causing you to question your effectiveness? Or question the idea you just had? Too many great ideas get killed on the edge of greatness by a limiting belief about what could or should be.

If you are prone to hear some video replay cycling in your head, turn off the program. Unsubscribe to its bad belief. Turn off the recorder. Unfriend the bad idea and open up to new and better possibilities.

Surround yourself with people who have more positive outlooks. It’s way too easy to find problems in the world. Real leaders create solutions. They explore all the possibilities before ever being stopped by a boundary that has no good merit.

Question: Can you live with a new mindset of boundarylessness? You can leave a comment by clicking here.