Archives for May 2017

Outdated Perception #4. Speed Is Dangerous

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This is one of the five outdated perceptions I discuss in my new book, 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership: Create A Mindset of Passion, Innovation and Growth. You can read more in The Perseverance Principle.

Outdated perception #4: Speed is dangerous

In the world of automobile racing speed is the name of the game. The person who can go around the track the fastest and cross the finish line ahead of their competitors is the winner. Racecar drivers in turn go the fastest they can by being right on the edge of speed and safety. They are not afraid of going fast. As a matter of fact they are continually looking for ways to go faster, not in foolish or reckless ways, but in ways that are right on the edge.

Spectators may find motorsports exhilarating to watch, but when given the opportunity to experience the speed of automobile racing up close and personal, the spectator squeals like a five year old girl who just saw a mouse in her bedroom.

And yet, speed is the new currency in the world of work. $10 million can be transferred from one financial institution to another in the click of a mouse. Customer perceptions can change in an instant if an employee’s reaction time to a problem or issue is too slow.

But far too many employees fear speed because they see speed as reckless, as imperfect and undesirable. They feel this way because they are metaphorically driving on the racetrack of work not in a Formula One racing care, but in the family minivan. You too would feel out of control racing in a minivan.

New Perception: Redefine speed as dangerous only if the vehicle and racecourse your driving on are mismatched. Discuss what new skill set, mindset, equipment, processes and systems are required to decrease the time to market for new products or increase the response time for key customers. Have a bias for consistent and persistent action. Redefine what the costs are for slower speed and what the payoffs are for faster speed.

Why Uber is Inept, Indifferent and Infuriating Customers

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angry young woman rejecting man with flowers

In the last eight days I’ve had four trips cancelled with Uber even though my app told me a driver was on their way. This left me stranded and scrambling to get to my destination.

I spoke with an Uber driver last week about my cancelled trips. She said when she first started driving for Uber she would work six hours and earn $200.00. Now she works ten to twelve hours to make $200.00. Why is a 60% increase in time required to make the same amount of money?

It’s supply and demand.

The number of drivers signed up to drive for Uber has mushroomed and has created an oversupply of drivers. This oversupply coupled with stagnant demand in my city leads to more drivers sharing a smaller pool of demand. This has drivers increasingly more aware of whether trips are profitable, and in turn, they’re screening for income potential. Hence, my cancelled trips.

What has added insult to injury is the magnitude of the inept and indifferent customer service from Uber. It has been atrocious. When I asked a direct and straightforward question I got a response assuring me that my credit card was not charge. When I reminded Uber that I didn’t ask about credit card charges I was told, get ready, “Available drivers are expected to accept trip requests. Your feedback is helpful as we work to improve the efficiency of our system.”

What? That’s a low level service functionary being dismissive.

As a raving Uber fan for years the customer service portion of this situation is the most damaging. I was torqued by having my trips cancelled, but the inability to handle these three simple customer service tasks was the death knell for my relationship with Uber:

1. Understand the customers frustration

2. Acknowledge the situation and apologize

3. Address the customers frustrations satisfactorily

Uber did none of the above. Let me be clear. I’m not frustrated because I demand excellence wherever I go, nor do I see myself as a member of the business traveling aristocracy. I’m frustrated because a service I really valued for making my life easier, used frequently, referred friends to and wanted to like, was inept, indifferent and infuriating.

What does this have to do with you and your business? This situation prompted me to ask this question: How many of your customers are being treated in ways that leave them feeling that you are inept, indifferent and infuriating? Frankly, how many businesses really know if their customers are actively looking for an alternative to doing business with them? That’s an important question. Can you explicitly tell me what type of experience your customer is having with you?

Here’s the $1,000,000 question you have to answer…does your customer see doing business with you as valuable, profitable or satisfying? Executives and entrepreneurs must know the answer to this question. If you don’t know the answer to this question, you will be left having your business cancelled as opposed to nearly having a ride with Uber cancelled.

Go Ahead, Make My Day

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In the movie Sudden Impact, Clint Eastwood has a memorable line that has taken a prominent place in the history books of memorable movie lines. After shooting four robbers of a restaurant there is one robber left standing. In the hopes of getting out alive, he takes a hostage and thinks this act will leave Clint Eastwood afraid and willing to back down.

That doesn’t happen. The Clint Eastwood character, Harry Callahan says to the robber, “Go ahead. Make my day”. He dares him to take a shot. The robber decides it is not his day and drops his gun.

We don’t have to carry a gun to make a person’s day. For example, last week I interviewed six leaders who are involved in a strategy project I’m designing. After one interview the leader said to me, “wow, I have never been listened to and understood as clearly as I have by you. You not only heard what I said, but you were able to repeat it back more clearly than I could imagine. You’ve made my day.”

As leaders, making a person’s day is without question a game changer not only for the leader but also for their team. How can you make a person’s day? Here are three strategies:

1. Listen to understand versus to respond.
The majority of the time people are not listening to understand someone but rather listening to respond. Listening to respond involves waiting for a gap in the conversation to insert statements about our experiences or perspectives. Listening to understand involves asking questions with a genuine curiosity and a sincere interest in the other persons perspective. Responding leads to separation and division while understanding leads to connection and a willingness to cooperate.

2. Use their words not mine.
Creating a sense of understanding comes when we use the specific words people use to describe their experience. I’m not suggesting parroting someone, but rather with sincerity using the specific words people use. When I use my words people feel interpreted and not heard.

For example, if someone said it was really challenging when they didn’t secure the funding necessary to complete a project they worked on for twelve months, the operative word is challenging. If in responding to the person you use the word frustrating you have moved into interpreting the person and not accurately reflecting the person’s experience.

3. Confirm my understanding.
The gift of being heard is powerful, but I don’t always get it right. To make sure my understanding is full and that the other person leaves the conversation feeling positive, I repeatedly ask if I have understood them accurately with the phrase, “this is what I heard you say. Did I get that right or is there something I’m missing?”

Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:
Which of these three strategies is hardest for you? Commit to improving your skill with that strategy this week by identifying one person who would benefit most from you making their day. Take the strategy and practice using it each day for five days. At the end of this week you’ll not only have made the day of those around you, but you’ll have substantially moved the needle of your leadership effectiveness.

Five Promises Transformational Leaders Make

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There are five promises transformational leaders make. They are:

1. Promises to yourself

2. Promises to your employees

3. Promises to your customers

4. Promises to your boss and senior leaders

5. Promises to your family and friends

Here are a few examples of powerful promises from my coaching work you can use as a catalyst for making promises that are important to you.

1. Promises to yourself: I promise that regardless of the demands I’ll face on the Baxter project, I will exercise Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00am for sixty minutes. I will also eat healthfully three times per week by myself and use that time to recharge, refocus, and renew my enthusiasm for the project.

2. Promises to your employees: I promise that I will lead the charge with the team to focus equally on what we as a team are doing well, as well as what we need to improve. This will not be rote or simply a to-do item on my list, but rather a promise to keep you focused on the positive work you’re accomplishing.

3. Promises to your customers: I promise as my primary goal to make your lives easier. I will ask for your feedback and your advice as to how we’re doing and I promise to take action on your advice. I will tell you what I heard, what I can do differently, and when you expect to see it.

4. Promises to your boss and senior leaders: I promise to never bring you problems without solutions unless I’m at a loss for what to do. I also promise to respectfully and purposefully disagree with you in private and support you in public.

5. Promises to your family and friends: I promise to have dinner with you twice a week at 6:30pm and to have my smartphone out of arm’s reach while we are eating dinner. You are important to me and while my time is constrained I promise to make the time we have together the highest quality time possible.

Each of these five areas need to be addressed by you in order to be seen and known as a person of integrity. Promises to yourself without promises to others is self-absorbed and communicates that you are the most important person in the relationship. Promises to others without corresponding promises to oneself leads to victimization and martyrdom.

What promises will you make and to whom?

Success Is Temporary

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WWW 05.03.17 1 from Hugh Blane on Vimeo.