Archive for the ‘Business Ethics’ Category

Saying Yes May Come with a Hefty Price Tag

Working in any organizations does require saying yes.  However all those yes responses may come with a potential hefty price tag.

I just read of a noted TV commentary who is now saying yes to whatever the new boss wants. Part of this ongoing agreement is to “humanize” this particular individual.  Yet at the previous organization, she was quite successful without any additional “humanizing” activities.

Her acquiescing to her new employer reminded me that when we say yes all the time to the boss, we are consciously and even subconsciously agreeing to all the core values (business ethics) within that organization. This does not present a problem provided our own positive core values are in alignment with the organization that currently employs us.

We hear about entrepreneurs to even salespeople about saying No and the benefits of saying No. Yet rarely do we hear about employees saying No.  This is probably because the employees want to keep their jobs and may not have the opportunity to go elsewhere for a variety of reasons.

Over at LinkedIn, I made this update to see how others felt about always saying yes and the ramifications of saying yes all the time. Here is that update and you can click here to make your own comments.

“When you say “YES” to everything from the boss, remember you are also saying “YES” to that organization’s core values. This begs the following questions: #1 – Do you know the organization’s core values?; #2 – Are you in agreement with 100% of them?; #3 – If the answer is No, Are you seeking another position?”

These questions are truly important to consider.  Additionally if executive leadership has not reinforced their positive core values (business ethics), the overall sales culture  can literally run amok.

The bottom line two questions are:

“By always saying yes, are you saying NO to your own personal ethics, positive core values.” If so, what long term damage is such behavior costing you? 

And that second answer is the price tag you are paying for always saying yes.

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Gratitude Is a Two Way Street in Business and Life

Is it just me or has gratitude become a less traveled street than in years gone by?  What happened to personal thank you cards or even small gifts to acknowledge the work efforts of others?

Have we become so conditioned to he or she “is getting paid to do” whatever that we have forgotten this simple, human gesture of gratitude?

The reason for this question is because of some recent interactions with a local health care facility and its staff.  Words could not express my personal gratitude for the care a loved one received.  So I bought a couple of cards and some candy and presented these sincere gifts of appreciation to the healthcare staff.

When I presented the gifts, I could see the staff members were quite shocked and pleasantly surprised by this action. My sense was my action was not typical of other customers to this health care facility.

Then I spoke with a close friend whose husband is a neurologist.  She confirmed that such gifts of gratitude are indeed rare because people believe the people are being paid to do a job and a simple verbal thank you is enough.

Actions of Appreciation Abound

Social media provides both a marketing channel and incredible opportunities to express one’s gratitude.  These expressions can be sharing the posts of others to actually commenting and thanking anyone who shares your social media postings. By taking these actions of appreciation, you are demonstrating you are an authentic, caring human being who appreciates the efforts of others.

Writing thank you notes or even just a “thinking of you” note can bring a smile to someone else’s day.  Our email IN boxes are full with a lot of buy this or buy that sales pitches. Receiving the handwritten note or card delivered by the USPS makes it stand out away from all the other clutter we receive.

One of my colleagues, Dan Waldschmidt, attempts to write at least two thank you notes a day to stay grounded and connected to others.  He totally understands that gratitude is a two way street both in business and in life.

 

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The Hourly Executive Coaching Fee, Ego and Ethics Collision

Sherpa Coaching continues to update executive coaches (focus on behavior change) about the hourly executive coaching fee. This update also includes hourly fees charged by business coaches (focus on knowledge and skills).

executive-coaching-feeIn having various conversations with colleagues, I have begun to wonder if there is a collision happening here between the executive coaching fee, ego and ethics?  For some, how much one charges reflects the worth of that particular individual.  More dollars, more worth.

Years ago I revisited my fees and adjusted them to reflect marketing conditions and my own personal financial goals.  As the economic motivating driver is not in my top 50% of my motivating values, charging high fees was not of particular interest. I preferred working with forward thinking business leaders who saw the value in my solutions.

I have listened to some executive coaches talk about their fee structure.  Their egos do appear to get a boost when they state “Well, I charge $500 an hour and my clients gladly pay.” My first thought is good for you and my second thought is “Hmm, ego have we?”

Then there is this issue of business ethics or positive core values.  Is what you are charging ethical?  Of course, some might say I charge what the market will bear.  And I can appreciate that position. Please understand, I believe in capitalism, 100%.  My issue is how higher executive coaching fees may be a reflection of ego and a potential lack of ethics.

What concerns me is those executive coaches who say they work with struggling entrepreneurs or SMB owners and their fees only add to those struggles.  There is a movement to bill for monthly executive coaching retainer services which may lessen the hourly rate impact. I actually employ that strategy with some of my executive coaching maintenance clients.

Since my fees come from the profits of my clients as well as from their own discretionary funds, I am very cognizant of the impact on their bottom line. Yes as some colleagues have encouraged me, I could charge much more given the results my executive coaching and sales coaching clients quickly experience, but then I would be having a collision between my business ethics, my personal core values and the executive coaching fee structure.

So if you are considering or revisiting your own executive coaching fee structure, please take a moment to think about if your fees are in alignment with your business ethics, your values and not a reflection of your own ego.

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Plagiarism Goes Beyond Intellectual Dishonesty

Yesterday a colleague, Mark Hunter, came across one of his articles being plagiarized by a fairly well connected LinkedIn member.  He notified a group of other sales coaches, sales consultants and colleagues about this plagiarism.  The group responded and not even 24 hours later, this particular article as well as all other articles under this person’s name were removed.

plagiarismI too have suffered from plagiarism.  A sales training company in Texas took one of my website pages one for word and copied it to their own website.  When I notified the CEO, he called and said he was unaware, apologized and the copy was removed. The CEO blamed the web designer. Over the years I have discovered other blog postings copied and have called out the authors.

Individuals who plagiarize the intellectual capitol of others demonstrate from more than dishonesty within their business ethics.  They also reveal they are lazy, lack creativity and are stupid to think eventually they will not be caught.

A recent study by the University of Missouri revealed the financial impact of dishonesty by CEOs. Unethical behavior does translate to the bottom line to a measurable 4.1% loss in shareholders’ value.

In today’s social selling world where content marketing has become a viable sales leads generating channel, being a plagiarist just does not make good business sense.  The reason is simple, in spite of how large the world is, it is still a small world.  People are connected to other people.  Software programs can find duplicate content with the stroke of a few keys.

One of the more simple ways to avoid even unintentional plagiarism is to Google the title for any content marketing in quotes.  This way the you can quickly determine if another person has written a similar article. Also this same tactic can be used to learn if your titles are being plagiarized by someone else.

In sales, people buy from people they know and trust.  Swiping the intellectual capital of others will not increase sales.

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Don’t Look Now Your Real Leadership Ethics Are Showing

Funny how a simple action can reveal the real leadership ethics of an individual. Let me explain.

leadership-ethics

Credit www.pixabay.com

Earlier this week a colleague received a completely unfair review of his book on Amazon. This anonymous reviewer (presuming to be a sales professional and probably sales trainer) focused on one sentence in this 240 page excellent book.

The reason for this focus was because the nameless reviewer believed one sentence plagiarized the intellectual capital of another published author. This other author had also sold his or her own sales training system.

Several people who knew the author responded and the reviewer acknowledged those responses. However in his or her acknowledgement, he or she attempted to still justify focusing on just one sentence while ignoring the other hundreds of sentences. Additionally, this person never addressed being challenged about hiding behind a pseudonym.

What the reviewer failed to recognize was how his or her review showcased his or  her lack of leadership ethics by attempting to demean another sales professional out of jealousy not out of ethical concerns.

Many of us have experienced professional jealousy along the way. Our personal leadership ethics including integrity have been challenged or attacked because someone didn’t like what we said.

Years ago I was challenged by another leadership coach who believed because I was not certified by some organization I was not a legitimate executive coach. Even though I told her the results my clients achieve is my certification, she insisted I was being unethical in calling myself a coach.

Read How Certification Does Guarantee Ethical Leadership

For me to stay true to my leadership ethics, I am consciously aware of Socrates Three Filters.

  • Is what you say kind?
  • Is what you say truthful?
  • Is what you say necessary?

For example in writing this blog, I did not name the persons involved because to take that action would not be kind nor necessary.

What we may always wish to consider is others can see our real leadership ethics in our behaviors. Using Socrates Three Filters may help us stay the course in our day to day ethical behaviors.

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The Sales Challenge of Living by Socrates’ Three Filters

Socrates as many know was a Greek philosopher. He created the Socratic Dialog which many in sales find very effective during exploring sales meetings and fact finding sessions. Socrates also developed the Three Filters which is just as important. However living by these three filters does present an ongoing sales challenge.

sales-challengeIf you are not familiar with the Three Filters, they are all about how you communicate with others as well as reinforce your own business ethics and emotional intelligence.

Is What you Say Kind?

We know words can hurt people feelings and create an atmosphere ranging from hostility to resentment. In sales especially when we are out and about, remembering to be kind in our remarks is essential. Kindness reflects emotional intelligence.

Is What You Say Truthful?

When speaking with others or even making comments, is what you say truthful.  This filter returns to the human nature of gossiping or even not validating what has been said.  Additionally by applying emotional intelligence we can be truthful without being judgmental.  Some people view telling the truth as being judgmental as “You should not say that.”

Is What you Say Necessary?

Probably for many, myself included, this third filter is the most challenging.  How many times do we speak too much during a sales conversation instead of actively listening?

We all enjoy getting our two cents in whether it is a professional or personal conversation. Here is where our ego sometimes takes over.

Socrates Three Filters is one sales challenge we confront every day.  Living consistently by these three filters is not easy.

Yesterday I had remembered Socrates wise words when being confronted by a very rude commuter passenger. Instead of engaging in non-productive conversation, I removed myself to another seat. This particular individual was 100% clueless about professional etiquette. She believed a particular train seat had her name on it along with her two companions.

In this world of people meeting people because people buy from people, one never knows who is watching.  By understanding the depth of this particular sales challenge can only strengthen one’s professional and personal business ethics, emotional intelligence and ultimately sustainable business growth.

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The Good Samaritan Is Today’s Top Sales Performer

Yesterday in church, I listened to the New Testament story of the Good Samaritan. Most people religious or not religious have heard this story or similar stories.  Upon further reflection I recognized some similarities between the good Samaritan and a top sales performer.

top-sales-performerSales is all about people who have needs and wants. In some cases, they (sales leads) have been left by the side of the road much like the person in the New Testament story. They were left because their needs could not be addressed by other salespeople or the other salespeople felt the sales leads were not worthy of their attention.

A top sales performer is willing to help others who need assistance without thinking about his or her own rewards. These individuals do not have a quid pro quo mindset. Now depending upon his or her schedule, the salesperson will give some of his or her time to answering questions and generally helping the person in need. They may also offer additional resources.

If we believe some of the research regarding sales statistics, the super majority of successful sales are made after the third contact. Unfortunately the vast majority of salespeople stop at the third contact.

Top sales performers will continue to reach out to their sales leads and nurture the sale to its fruition.  Even if the sales leads are not 100% qualified, these salespeople know they have made a friend and eventually this friendship will be of benefit.

Beyond the needs of the sales leads, a top sales performer has positive core values, high business ethics as demonstrated by the Good Samaritan. He or she is not viewed as a “shyster.”

No, the ethical salesperson is viewed with positive and warm feelings.  As President Teddy Roosevelt said “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

If people buy from people they know and trust, being a Good Samaritan only reaffirms those feelings of knowing and trusting. The questions for you are:

  • Are your behaviors similar to the Good Samaritan?
  • Who have you helped even at your own expense recently?
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Sometimes It Makes Sense to Cut Off One’s Nose to Spite One’s Face

Most of us have heard the old adage about “cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.”  This is statement is used to describe needlessly selfish behavior.

cut-off-one's-nose-to-spite-one's-faceA conversation yesterday had me realize that sometimes this behavior is not necessarily needlessly selfish and makes sense.

For example, I have very strong beliefs about the word leadership.  When local communities create “leadership institutes” or “leadership universities” they are for the most part business to business networking opportunities for local leaders (B2B owners, salespeople) to meet other local leaders.  From my perspective this is not leadership.

In the book Fail-Safe Leadership, I was exposed to Drucker’s definition of leadership “is all about results.”   Since that time, I have amended leadership to be the “ability to secure sustainable results through the demonstration of positive core values.”  

Since I have this very strong belief about leadership, I have avoided joining several local leadership groups because for me it is glorified business to business networking.  By becoming a graduate of these groups, I believe I am violating my own personal and positive core values.  Of course I probably could have earned some business and I accept that loss of business.

Personal Note:  My Values Index has being independent at the top of the scale and this might also help to explain my aversion to these groups.  I truly do not like following the crowd.

However is sacrificing one’s positive core values just to increase sales a valid reason to join these types of leadership groups?  I think not.

Maybe that is part of the problem with business today, the wink and the nod behavior respective to our ethics.  People join groups knowingly not liking the organizer or the purpose, but justify it because they will increase sales.

I do believe in creating authentic relationships and not just schmoozing or becoming another business lemming.  Some have asked me why I haven’t joined these groups? My response is “they do not fit into my strategic plan.”

Yes sometimes it makes sense “to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face” when non-negotiable business ethics or positive core values are in place.

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Living Your Personal and Corporate Values

Earlier this week I received a Christmas Letter from a local small business owner. What was interesting is this letter reflected both his personal values as well as the corporate values.

corporate-values

Credit www.picjumbo.com

Today with so many fearing offending a potential customers (translation means losing a potential sale because you made an enemy), this small business owner had no such fear. He wrote the following:

“…cannot protect us from tragedies such as what happened at San Bernardino. May this be a reminder that as we celebrate Christmas, we turn to the one who Christmas is all about, who created us and upon whom we can find comfort and hope!

The letter was signed by all 14 employees.

Sharing such a sentiment does reflect the corporate values of this small business.  I know the small business owner is a practicing Christian and an active participant in the local community.

What this letter suggested to me is this business leader has courage.  He is not afraid of sharing his personal values and showing those values are also embedded into his workplace culture.

Possibly if more small business owners shared their personal values along with their corporate values then maybe some of the unethical behaviors and practices might be reduced.  The quote I shared yesterday again is appropriate:

“You have enemies? Good. That means you‘ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Sir Winston Churchill

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Another Blinding Flash of the Obvious in Sales

The top sales performers I know, know “telling ain’t selling.”  They also know something that others in sales fail to embrace – Values.

salesYesterday in listening to a friend share his experience about selling some real estate, I once again realized the importance of positive core values (business ethics) when it comes to sales.  He was sharing how he sold some property and a realtor verbally accosted him about not giving his firm an opportunity to sell the real estate.  The problem was the realtor sat on his not for profit board at the time and it would have been unethical.

Here in the Midwest, the Chicago Public Schools Corporation is facing some legitimate scrutiny respective to a no-bid contract by its former CEO.  Given that all executives and board members sign conflict of interest statements, what happened at CPS is truly an ethics violation that had serious legal ramifications.

Salespeople have a higher obligation to be ethical. The reason is simple sales drives the revenue.

If revenue is received under false pretenses, everyone in the organization suffers.

Maintaining a high ethical standard sometimes is difficult especially because of demands by sales management to personal financial choices.  This is quite true for some small business owners who must maintain some cash flow.

Turning down sales hurts. Yet accepting sales that are not a good fit or that are earned under false pretenses hurts far more.

In the book I wrote several years ago Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the second chapter was all about personal business ethics or values.  When working with sales coaching clients, the first action we take together is to work on their purpose and value statements. Having crystal clarity about one’s personal business ethics is essential to business growth because people buy from people they know and trust. If you want to be a top sales performer, then make sure you have crystal clarity about your personal ethics and never, ever compromise them because when you do, you have lost more than the sale you just gained.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 1-219-508-2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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