Archives for April 2017

The One And Only Job Leaders Have

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Leaders have only one job.

But first a little context. The number one belief leaders have about what their job entails is managing the numbers. They have a myriad number of metrics for their job, but it is primarily about making the numbers work.

That’s true, but here’s a subtle yet transformational shift in thinking. What leaders are really responsible for is creating a “flourishing” bottom line and not simply managing their numbers. The choice of words I’m using is powerful. The expectation most organizations have for their leaders is not to simply maintain the status quo financially, but to lead a transformation financially.

How do you lead a financial transformation for your organization or business?

I suggest first and foremost that the best way to do so is to have a flourishing customer experience. A customer experience that is so rewarding, enriching and engaging for the customer that they continually refer new customers to you, pay higher prices because of the value you provide and see you as indispensable in their life. If you create that kind of flourishing customer experience you are well on your way to a flourishing bottom line.

How do you create a flourishing customer experience? You do that through flourishing employees. Imagine having employees that are so enthralled (yes, enthralled) with their work that they extend that toward your customer. It’s simple, when you have employees that are flourishing professionally they share best practices willingly, they create new ways of doing their work and are hellbent on continually improving the work they do. This mindset, when directed toward customer flourishing, positions you to have a flourishing bottom line.

What is your one and only job? To enable employee flourishing! That’s it. If that’s your focus each day your performance will be transformed from floundering to flourishing.

How do you enable employee flourishing? I have three suggestions:

1. Get to know what each of your direct reports is passionate about. You have to know what they love about their work and what they aspire to professionally. What is their one big dream, goal, hope, or aspiration for their work that has grabbed hold of them and won’t let go?

2. Get clear about what their talents and skills are and how they can deploy them in meaningful ways. When you marry what they are passionate about with their talents and skills you can start the conversation about how they can infuse their passion and talents in ways that enable customer flourishing.

3. Clarify how passion and talent create value for the customer. What specifically is each employee doing that makes the customer experience rewarding, valuable and highly differentiated? Employees can be passionate and talented, but if their talent and passion are not directed to providing high value to your customers the likelihood of customer flourishing is significantly reduced.

When you implement these three suggestions you’ll create a professional development plan for employees that will not only transform them professionally, but will transform your bottom line.

I hope you have a flourishing week. If you have any questions, go to the blog and let me know.

Some of these ideas will be more clearly articulated in my new book, 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership. Make sure you check that out in June.

Throw Your Metrics Out The Window

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In the ‘what is the one question you want to have answered’ sequence of posts I’m writing, I received this question from an association executive. What are the best metrics for me to have to measure our success?

Great question. Here was my answer.

Throw all of your metrics out the window.

What? Are you insane? All of my metrics?

Yes, all of them. Unless they can accurately and reliably deliver on three promises.

Promise #1. Your metrics measure results not tasks. 
Far too often sales organizations measure the tasks of their sales people and not the results of their sales people. For example, did the sales person make a predetermined number of phone calls or send a prescribed number of approach letters. In many organizations there are sales people who never look successful based on their daily tasks but who repeatedly sell larger amounts than their coworkers. This begs the question, do you want a sales person who is successful managing their metrics or selling a lot of your products and services? I’ll take the latter.

Promise #2. Your metrics measure what drives your success.
There is one fatal flaw with the vast majority of assessments I see clients use. Leaders and managers have to do backflips and play complicated games of Twister in order to interpret the data generated from an assessment. What’s absent is a direct alignment with organizational strategy, values, culture, talent, mindset and leadership.  This produces delayed decision making and reduced enthusiasm for accelerated results.

Promise #3. Your metrics measure an obsessive focus on the customer.
You no doubt organized your department or business in one of several strategic ways. Maybe it’s the markets you serve (USAA), the products you offer (BMW), your technology (Tesla), your financial returns (JP Morgan) or one of five others. But, in the most successful organizations I work with the one structure that generates the greatest returns is that of customer obsession. Notice I didn’t say customer success, I said customer obsession. In every nook and cranny of your business there is an unrelenting obsessive focus on the customer and making their lives better, easier, more productive…in ways they didn’t even know they wanted or needed.

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:
I challenge you to jettison any assessment or metric that is not aligned with these three promises. Which metric are you currently using that is being violated by one of these three promises?

Living a Purposeful Life Versus an Accidental Life

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This is a picture of courage and tenacity. This is a picture of one person doing everything they can to overcome adversity and live a more purposeful life.

Here’s what I mean.

Although I advocate for being purposeful in as many areas of your life as possible, there are events and times when you will not and cannot be fully prepared. On December 13, 2016, my family experienced a disaster that no one wanted nor were we prepared for.

My brother-in-law, Joey Sharron, was swimming in Mexico when two waves hit him from behind and pushed him headfirst into a sand bar. His neck was broken on impact and were it not for a woman standing on the beach 25 yards away and yelling for her husband to help him, he likely would have drowned and been pronounced dead at the scene.

He received 15 minutes of CPR without being resuscitated. As the lifeguards were stopping CPR, a physician from an adjacent hotel, who had watched the accident, ran for a defibrillator and arrived on the scene and started CPR again. His arrival and intervention lasted 10 additional minutes and, after administering four shocks, he revived Joey.

Emergency surgery was performed in Mexico and three days later Joey was transported to Mass General in Boston where he was diagnosed as a quadriplegic. He is alive, has no brain damage, and has an amazing mindset. He is, in many ways, preparing himself and his family to accept his prognosis merely as a starting point, not his finishing point.

Five months into Joey’s injury I’m am fully prepared to grasp the enormity of his injury and the impact this will have on each family member. There are aspects of caring for and living with an accident of this magnitude that is still beyond comprehension and leaves us crying, frustrated and ill prepared to deal with the severity of his condition.

But in the face of this accident, Joey specifically, and my family in general, have learned something new each and every day about what’s possible—possible for recovery, possible for Joey’s work, and possible for what we can do to make the healing process healthier.

Watching Joey handle this adversity in inspiring and courageous ways tells me that Joey can teach me a lot about how to approach life, adversity and leadership.

Joey has said that he’s never going to give up and that he knows exactly what’s going to be thrown at him physically and emotionally. He knows this is a massive test for his health and quality of life, but also for his wife, family, and business too.

He’s not naive in any way, but he believes that how he thinks about his injury and by the choices he makes with regard to his mindset and his rehabilitation, he can overcome the situation and lead a productive and healthy life. Joey’s attitude is transforming what I believed was possible about spinal cord injury and is preparing me to be amazed at what he accomplishes.

Monday Morning Mindset Questions:

  1. Are there areas of your professional or personal life where you’ve become tentative or given up?
  1. In what area of your life do you want to envision new possibilities?
  1. What aspect of your interactions with employees and or customers needs rehabilitation?

My Mastering Your Mindset Special Report provides 27 strategies for overcoming adversity and living a more purposeful life. You can find it here.

3 Lessons I Learned From Lino Tagliapietra

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The Three Lessons I Learned From World Renowned Glass Artist Lino Tagliapietra

On the first Thursday of the month in Seattle the doors of the downtown art world are thrown open and galleries all across the downtown corridor welcome art aficionados as well as novices like me to enter and view their work.

Last night I attended the first Thursday festivities with friends that are not only well-educated art lovers, but patrons of several glass blowing schools. We started with a private tour of the world renowned glass artist Lino Tagliapietra’s new showroom and then headed to the Traver Gallery where I met Jim Mongrain and Preston Singletary. Here’s what I learned about art last night.

Guides open your eyes. My guides last night not only provided me with access to an exhibit I would not have seen without them, they made the evening more enjoyable because of their infectious enthusiasm. Having a guide is common sense while traveling to a country we don’t know. The same holds true for an environment we don’t know. Guides open doors, open eyes and make our trips more rewarding and fun.

Follow your eyes. My eyes were drawn to a particular type of glass while other types fell flat for me. I thought at first this was rooted in a lack of appreciation, but was reminded that in the highly subjective and oftentimes pricey world of art, beauty remains in the eyes of the beholder. From one forty year art collector I was told that when I bring art into my home it first has to be brought in through my eyes and then into my heart. If your eyes don’t land on art that speaks to you and opens your heart you shouldn’t own it.

Asking questions is essential. At first I felt intimidated about asking some of my questions. They weren’t very well informed questions as I am a novice in this world and I didn’t want to come across as a redneck who had just fallen off a hay truck. But I can’t learn or grow in my appreciation unless I ask questions. I was reminded that the only dumb question is the unasked question.

My experience last night confirmed for me that having some original art is important to me and surrounding myself with art that inspires me, uplifts me and is the expression of an artists talent, skill and love is something I want to have in my life.

I was reminded by guides, art and artists last night that leadership is so much less  a mechanical paint by numbers affair and considerably more an art form. Leaders are a guide that make the unfamiliar exciting and invigorating, they open our eyes to new possibilities and they can be the catalyst for asking questions that illuminate and inspire.

What would happen if this week you shifted your thinking and viewed your leadership as a work of art? What if you were a purveyor of beauty, artistry and engagement? My experience tells me that not only would your leadership become richer and more rewarding for you personally, it would become richer and more rewarding for your bottom line.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Pablo Picasso

Are You Drowning In A Sea of Sameness?

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Macy’s is closing 100 stores this quarter and their CEO says their problem is that they are “drowning in a sea of sameness.” For Macy’s there is nothing distinctive and valuable about shopping with them. Other retailers offer the same merchandise from the same equally disinterested sales personnel and don’t enthuse customers about their shopping experience.

Are you distinctive and differentiated in the eyes of your customers? Here’s how you’ll know. You are if you can answer a resounding yes to the following questions:

  1. Are you hearing a compelling yes from customers about your ability to make their lives better?
  1. Do customers see you as instrumental to making their lives more successful, profitable, enjoyable or easier?
  1. Do your customers refer their family, friends or colleagues to you with enthusiasm?
  1. Are you offering the same merchandise as your competitors?
  1. What makes you distinctive, memorable, enjoyable to work with, compelling and for goodness sake, valuable to your customer?

If you are not distinctive, differentiated and valuable you are going to drown in a sea of sameness just like Macy’s. If you don’t take time to answer the questions above there’s only one thing left to say. Grab a life preserver!