Posted on April 17, 2013 | 7 Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Guest Blogger, Sales
Today’s guest post is from Joel Garfinkle, executive coach and author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level (CLICK HERE to get your copy). While all our guest bloggers are great, every once in a while a guest writes a post that I read and say “I wish I had written that!”. This is one of those posts. Enjoy!
James is an up-and-coming sales manager for a Fortune 500 company. He sees himself as outgoing, friendly, fast-moving—a real deal maker. Some of the people he works with, however—as well as some of his clients—see him as a fast-talking backslapper and a bit of a phony. Which perception is accurate? And why does it matter?
The “perception is reality” adage is most often applied to the way each of us sees our own environment. If we see the glass as half full, we will operate from that reality and the glass will always be at least half full. But what if we turn that adage inside out? What if the reality we’re experiencing is due in part to how others perceive us?
Carly Fiorina, former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, stated: “Leadership is a performance. You have to be conscious about your behavior, because everyone else is.”
Let’s revisit James for a moment. He sees himself as a deal-maker, but lately the deals have been drying up. He’s having trouble getting appointments, even getting clients to return his phone calls. And the people on his team are working around him, leaving him out of important conversations and meetings. James is in serious need of a perception correction. So how do we create the “me” we want others to see? How do we change perceptions? There are a number of actions we could take but we need to begin with behavior.
Posted on April 15, 2013 | 9 Comments
Categories: Leadership, Training
I was lucky enough a few months ago to attend the Ohio State vs. Nebraska football game at Ohio State. It was a raucous affair in which OSU pounded Nebraska into submission. But that wasn’t the best part.
The best part was the halftime show by The Best Damn Band In The Land. They showed me something that I knew I needed to share the minute I saw it. Now, I’m no huge band follower – I was definitely there for the football game. That said, I know something special when I see it and given I tend to look at the world through a leadership lens, I immediately saw this blog post emerge.
During that halftime show, the OSU band demonstrated what true teamwork looks like and displayed the amazing impact that can be achieved when everyone on the team executes their role flawlessly. To that end, I invite you to check out the below video of the halftime show. To get the point I’m about to make, skip ahead to 6:35 into the video and strap yourself in because you’re about to be amazed.
The halftime show was a tribute to video games and what the band pulled off with that galloping horse was nothing short of amazing. Imagine 100,000 people hanging out during halftime enjoying the show but also chatting with friends and eating hot dogs. All of a sudden, the horse takes form and people applaud. Then it starts galloping. The place went absolutely insane. And when the horse reared up on its hind legs, you would have thought OSU just won the national championship. This was teamwork art in action. You can learn a few things as a leader from their performance:
Posted on April 10, 2013 | 3 Comments
Categories: Guest Blogger, Leadership
Today Reynier Lezcano, author of Executive Wisdom: Reflections for Today’s Leaders, discusses how letting go can make you a better leader.
I have come to the conclusion that the overwhelming majority of business executives think of leadership as a bureaucratic function of business, requiring lots of academic formation and business exposure, along with an empirical approach. On the contrary, true leadership entails plenty of trust and dependability.
Motivational leaders are the primary force behind organizational efficiency and effectiveness. The leader, more than a decision maker, is a motivator. Leaders motivate their followers to continue their legacy while they are present and during their absence, and to fulfill their vision for the organization. Motivational leaders make quick executive decisions; they craft a plan of action and carry it through without losing sight of their goals; and above all, they overcome obstacles with their initiative and charisma.
As illustrated in the following story, it takes a true leader to motivate others to jump on board and take a business out of the red and into profitability. Leadership can come from anyone. It is not confined to the owner of the company or the CEO. As a matter of fact, academic erudition is not even a prerequisite to successful leadership. The following anecdote serves as a perfect example of what motivational leadership is all about.
It was back in the 1980s when my friend Bobby took a job at his friend’s store in New York City. Bobby’s friend Artie had bought a small grocery store. Artie showed up sporadically, so he needed someone he could trust to manage the store for him. He hired Bobby, knowing that Bobby was trustworthy and dependable—key personal traits of true leaders. Bobby didn’t really have any experience in this type of work, but he was a fast learner, and honest men are hard to come by.
Posted on April 8, 2013 | 1 Comment
Categories: Leadership, Strategy
You’re often faced with a simple choice: keep growing your core or expand into new arenas. It’s a challenge of balance.
By growing your core, you’re building what you’re already successful at. Customers have validated that product or service. It’s likely very profitable. And as you’ve heard me pontificate on before, strategy is inherently about saying “no.”
On the flip side, your core can only get you so far. The ideas behind it might get stale or run their logical lifespan. Cool new opportunities and ideas spring up all the time. Many of those new opportunities are untested and unproven though therefore they’re riskier.
Your job as a leader is to balance between strengthening and growing what you already do well while simultaneously finding new growth opportunities for your business. It’s challenging because you have resource constraints and can only invest so much time, effort, and money into building the core and expanding beyond it. You have to make this tradeoff effectively. This applies to you whether you’re a small business or a monolithic one.
So how can you strike that balance?
Posted on April 3, 2013 | 3 Comments
Categories: Customer Service, Guest Blogger, Leadership
Lots gets said and written about leadership and strategy. Complex theories and models abound. Leaders (usually the ones with some sort of inferiority complex) use really big words and acronyms that only confuse things even more. No wonder most businesses today languish in a constant state of mediocrity.
I once worked with a PhD from one of the finest business schools in the world that would often say; “We’re not doing that. It’s too simple.” The results were a culture that was reduced to a toxic tar pit and a customer base that slipped 17% in one year – eroding $200MM in shareholder value.
Here’s the secret sauce (so to speak) though – be relevant. Be relevant to your people, partners and your customers. It is the competitive advantage that will set you apart from the crowd.
What does “being relevant” mean?
When business leaders get complicated with their models and convoluted mumbo jumbo, it always comes from what they teach in business schools and it is all left brain thinking.
People, on the other hand, make all their decisions from an emotionally based perception of their own reality, which is all right brain thinking. It is different for each individual – there is no one size fits all.
Posted on April 1, 2013 | 7 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Communications, Innovation, Leadership
So many brilliant people have turned such wonderful and inspirational quotes over the years and we would do well as leaders to learn from them. I’ve compiled a few of my all-time favorite quotes in this post and encourage you to share your favorite ones with the members of your team. Heck, go crazy and print a bunch of them out and post them on your office bulletin board.
There’s something special about a great quote. It captures an idea in the span of a few short words and that idea is so much bigger than we would expect. It inspires. It stirs the soul. It elicits unexpected emotions from the depths of our being. There’s a reason we love quotes: they work.
So without further preamble, here are some of my all-time favorite leadership quotes:
- “Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.” – Paul Saffo
- “Equality is not only a right, it is also a noun.” – George Merriam of Merriam-Webster*
- “Egalitarianism is so much more than a value; it is the system by which they govern.” – John James Audubon*
Posted on March 27, 2013 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Sales
Many salespeople have a love-hate relationship with sales. They love the profession, but they often hate bringing in net new logos. It’s the classic case of wanting to have it all without the most dreaded aspect of the process.
If you’ve been in the business of selling for many years, you know that most of your new business will come from old clients, repeat customers, and a referral here and there. But isn’t it time to go beyond just doing well and instead create exceptional results? Of course it is … and that means making “the call”—the dreaded cold call, that is.
Why is a simple phone call so dreaded? Why is calling into a new account so hated? So resisted?
After two decades of leading sales pros, we have found that if there is no pain “I am doing just fine the way I manage my business” or there is no vision of what is possible “I am comfortable to stay with business as it is”, then there is no change. However, if you want to create new results, you need to get out of your comfort zone and into a new way driving your business.
So the question begs itself, do you want to create substantial results this year? How much is substantial? Do you want a 5% increase, a 30% increase, a 50% increase? No matter what the percent of increase, if you are interested—NO, DRIVEN—to create exceptional results, you need to take a fresh look at a technique that will rock your world and deliver on your efforts.
That technique is cold calling. Go ahead and say it: “Cold calling is an out-of-date approach to finding new business,” “I’ve been in sales for a while, so I don’t need to call cold,” or “calling cold is for rookies.” Right?
WRONG! Read More…
Posted on March 25, 2013 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership
Yep. I said it. And you know it’s true.
There are some pretty understandable reasons why we’re so bad at making decisions. We are afraid of being wrong. There are costs with being wrong (e.g., getting fired, not getting a promotion, etc.). We don’t want to upset people and have them feel left out. We don’t want to hurt their feelings by not asking for their opinions.
But decisions still need to be made. All the above issues lead us to a place where every decision is based on consensus. Consensus-based decision making takes forever. And even if we use a consensus-based approach, we still risk groupthink. On top of that, the slow pace of consensus exposes us to the rapid pace of today’s business environment. If it takes us forever to decide whether to launch a new product, we create the risk of our competitors beating us to market because they made a decision more quickly than we did.
We must get better at decision making. Now.
Two of my favorite perspectives on decision making come from General Patton and RUSH:
“In case of doubt, ATTACK!” – General George S. Patton III
“If you choose not to decide / You still have made a choice.” – RUSH, Freewill
So how can you break out of the infuriatingly slow paced environment in which you’re operating now? It’s actually pretty easy.