Archive for the ‘Business Leadership’ Category

9/11 Dispels the Leaders Are Born Not Made Leadership Myth

Today here in the USA we remember that terrible day 16 years ago when nearly 3,000 lives were lost on American soil.  From the stories of the survivors, we know without question the leadership myth that leaders are born not made is just that a myth.  From the first responders to those brave Americans who attempted to take down terrorists (Todd Beamer “Let’s roll”)  on a plane (Flight #93) over Shankesville, PA, we heard and saw average people made into leaders because of the events of that horrific day.

Throughout history we have witnessed leaders being made by life’s events.  One of my favorite leaders was Audie Murphy. The reason I find him so fascinating was he had no leadership characteristics that many believe leaders must have such as:

  • Wealth
  • High intelligence
  • A family of influence
  • Average age 40 to 60
  • Highly educated
  • Good looking (handsome to beautiful)

Audie Murphy was a poor Texas dirt farmer who enlisted in the Army to provide for his siblings as his father had left the farm and his mother had died.  He didn’t even have a high school education.  His family was not affluent and he lied about his age to enlist.

Yet this poor, rather uneducated, very young, man became the most decorated U.S. solider in WWII. His background defied the leadership myth that leaders are born not made.

After leaving the service, Murphy wrote a book, To Hell and Back, which was turned into a movie.  He played himself in that movie and went on to become an actor.  He unfortunately died in an airplane crash at the age of 45.

Each of us has the ability to be an incredible leader. Of course we must have strong personal convictions (positive core values) so we do not fall into the leadership trap of “go along to get along.” We must be motivated to become a leader because of family obligations to one’s personal purpose to helping others as we saw on 9/11.

So the next time you read or hear this leadership myth that leaders are born not made, remember 9/11 or look to a family member who defied this myth.  I am sure you will see leaders are made each and every day regardless of demographics or circumstance.

 

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Why Go Along to Get Along Isn’t Effective Leadership

Regardless of organization, many in leadership roles embrace the “go along to get along” philosophy.  The problem with this belief is it demonstrates a lack of effective leadership.

Effective is doing the right thing.  In doing the right thing, leaders must first know what the right thing is. This knowing suggests the leader has strong personal ethics and is not willing to concede those basic core principles.

The Hollywood movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was all about the “go along to get along” philosophy. This fictional story though really non-fictional revealed how basic core principles take a dramatic hit when the “go along to get along” belief is embraced.

Lately I have witnessed a lot of “go along to get along” behaviors by local government leaders especially.  No one wants to rock the boat, to challenge the status quo.  So they sit like little bobble head dolls nodding their heads in agreement (go along) because they want to get along.

Some may remember one actress who won an academy award state “you really like me.”  The desire to be liked is inherent in most individuals as human beings are social creatures.

However real progress does not happen when everyone thinks the same way. Disruption is needed. Disruption will upset some people.  Leaders must have the fortitude to handle those upset people.

One impediment to effective leadership is a misplaced sense of loyalty.  Leaders sometimes are loyal to an organization or to one or two people.  They fail to understand where they should place their loyalty.

We witness this misplaced loyalty among politicians who are loyal to each other or to special interests. Then there are business leaders who are loyal to their shareholders at the expense of their customers.

Another impediment is the inability by those in leadership roles to provide constructive criticism without personally attacking others.  If some leaders had greater emotional intelligence, improved negotiation and communication skills, they could effectively communicate a “disruptive idea” without others being offended.

Effective leadership always returns to doing the right thing.  So the next time you are in a position where you as a leader (and we are all leaders) are considering “Go along to get along,”  remember to ask yourself what are the “right things” you are sacrificing? 

 

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Tone Deaf Executive Leadership Ignores What Customers Value

Once again corporate executive leadership demonstrates how truly tone deaf it really is.  The recent Tweet war between Delta Airlines and Ann Coulter reveals that Delta leadership does not know what their customers value.  Hint for those in leadership roles – It is not the money.

When customer pay for something, they expect what they pay for.  Pretty simple.  In the case of Ms. Coulter she expected to receive additional leg room given she pre-booked and paid for a seat to give her that extra comfort.  Given her financial status, I am sure she would have paid more, but $30 was the going rate.

Tone Deaf Executive Leadership Thinks Only About the Money

Someone in an executive leadership role who offered her the $30 as a refund and then went on to defend the removal of her from her paid and pre-booked seat was beyond tone deaf.  I do not know the reason for her removal outside of the presumed fact she was not creating a problems with her fellow passengers.

Today, social media sites such as Twitter allow individual customers to have the power of the ink without any cost.  Possibly they have forgotten this quote attributed to Mark Twain as well as to Former Congressman Charles Brownson, Indianapolis Republican:

“I never quarrel with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

When executive leadership or even management believes customer service is all about the dollars and they forget customer loyalty is about how they treat people. To say Delta’s customer service was horrendous is an understatement. 

Being tone deaf now has disrupted customer loyalty. Loyal customers may think twice about the obvious disconnect between what they value and what Delta believes they value.

Sales and Leadership Coaching Tip:

Value is unique to each buyer (customer).

The tone deafness demonstrated by Delta Airlines executive leadership also reveals the total lack of emotional intelligence.  These leaders failed to recognize and understand a paid customer’s emotions, but only recognized their own emotions.  This is why they failed to manage both.

Want to know how your own emotional intelligence?  Schedule a short free call with Leanne by CLICKING HERE.

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Sales Leadership, Bag Phone or Smart Phone?

Funny thing about sales leadership is some past sales leaders sometimes fail to continue to be forward thinking as new ideas or technologies evolve.

sales-leadershipNow younger sales professionals may not remember the first mobile phones that were literally in a bag.  These bag phones started the trend of being connected 24/7.

Over time technology reduced the size of the mobile phone and increased its power.  Today we have all those smart phones and other smart devices that allow those in sales leadership to reach out and touch someone instantaneously.

Many of the early adopters of bag phones saw the value in them.  They found them to be beneficial to achieving the goal to increase sales. Yet some of these same forward thinking leaders decided to hold onto their bag phones because they were familiar with them, they did not have to learn a new device and it worked for them.

They believed in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Yesterday’s old bag phones is an analogy respective to  those in sales leadership who do not want change.  They want to hold onto their authority, their knowledge and their comfortableness.

Those who adopt new technology, new marketing channels, new ways of thinking are more willing to accept change and challenge the status quo. They accept the possibility their authority may be challenged, their knowledge will change and they will be uncomfortable during this process.

Of course to change for the sake of change is not good.  Yet to hold onto the past without looking to the future is equally not good.

Sales leadership in the 21st century must face its greatest challenge – change.  This is quite difficult given how fast change is happening and why additional resources must be hired or contracted to effectively deal with all of these changes in sales, in business and in people. Now is not the time to hold onto that old bag phone.

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Are You An Authentic or Just Charismatic Sales Leader?

Would you rather be an authentic or a charismatic sales leader?  This early Saturday morning question surfaced as I read a posting over on LinkedIn.  The posting linked to this HBR article.

sales-leaderMany people fall for the charismatic salesperson.  These are the folks with the warm smile and firm handshake. They seem to make that immediate emotional connection.  Their solutions appears to be want the sales prospect wants to needs.

Then after the checked has been received, the delivery made, these charismatic sales leaders can never be found. Excuses are made as to why something didn’t get done. Often times they will pass the buck, blame others.  Long term customers are really not their goal.

Authentic leaders appear not to be as charismatic.  They also have the warm smile and the firm handshake. Making an emotional connection may not be as immediate.  Unlike the charismatic sales leaders, they are around after the sale.  These individuals do not make excuses for them as the buck stops with them.

Another difference between the authentic and charismatic sales leader is their audience.  As I noted in the LinkedIn comment, the reason some people fall for the charismatic leaders is the internal desire for the quick fix.

Most of us internally want the quick fix even though we know the results probably will not be sustainable.  Time is precious and time is money.  When we can have those quick fixes, we then can go on to other important matters and happiness will follow.

We know this to be true if we look at all those quick fix products sold from the self improvement industry, the health industry to the sales industry.  Many of them are sold by charismatic people.  And yet the problems are still very much present.

Probably the most notable difference is authentic leaders are guided by non-negotiable positive core values (business ethics) while for some charismatic leaders they will do or say whatever they need to do or say to get their prospects to take action.  They may promise the moon (oversell the solution) or make negative comments about the competition. Again for them winning is everything and the heck with positive core values.

Each of us in sales has a choice to be an authentic sales leader or a charismatic one.  For me I prefer the former because I will never sacrifice my positive core values for a quick buck.

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Fog Lines and Guard Rails on the Sales Leadership Road

Possibly you may be wondering what do fog lines and guard rails have to do with traveling the sales leadership road?  Probably more than you realize.

sales-leadershipFog lines are the outside white lines that let you know you are close to running off the paved road onto the shoulder if there is a shoulder.  These lines were not always part of the American road system, but started appearing in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Recent court decisions affirm that fog lines are part of the roadway.

For those in sales leadership, fog lines are part of your sales’ behaviors specifically your positive core values (business ethics).  When you cross the fog line, you have crossed or compromised your values. This compromise might be something as simple as a little white lie about:

  • The delivery date of your solution
  • How many people actually have downloaded your app
  • Your total number of new customers or total annual sales

Another simple crossing of the fog line could be gossiping about other employees to your competitors.

Now the guard rails keeps the car on the road especially when there is no shoulder and immediate danger lurks on the other side of the guardrail such as a steep mountain cliff.  Guard rails are the positive core values (think business ethics) each professional business person holds true and will not cross.

How many times have you failed to honor your positive core values? Did this failure impact your ability to lead as well as to increase sales?

Personally I believe one’s positive core values have a direct correlation to one’s sales leadership effectiveness. There are some who agree with me including the author of From Values to Action.

Many in sales leadership roles have not invested the time to commit to writing their positive core values. Maybe the organization’s values statement is enough for them. Yet, when we know what our own guard rails are, then we have much greater clarity when we cross that fog line and begin to compromise our sales leadership.

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The Ultimate Leadership Question Is?

Probably you have your most favorite leadership question because it works. Over the years I have discovered this to be for me as well as for my clients the ultimate leadership question an effective sales leader, manager or CEO can ask:

What do you need from me to allow you to complete this task to secure the desired result?

The reason I believe this is the ultimate leadership question goes back to Peter Drucker’s first definition of leadership:

“Leadership is all about results.”

When this ultimate leadership question is asked many elements are put into play in a very simplistic manner.  No need for a lot of questions.

Leaders are those who gets results from others as well as themselves.  This question is not only results focused, but allows for humility from the leader.  How many leaders humble themselves in front of those they lead?

This question does not focus on the person being led but the focus is on the leader and how well he or she communicated the following:

  • The task to be completed
  • The desired results

There is also a subtle reference to the resources available and the capacity of the person being asked to perform the task.  Did the leader provide the resources necessary to perform the task?  This question ensures the person being led knows what the resources are or provides the opportunity to ask for additional resources.

When the person being asked to secure the desired results has the opportunity to think about what he or she needs from the leader, this provides additional insight into that person’s talents such as:

Of course this question to be both efficient and effective, should be asked on a Friday afternoon to give the person being led time to think about what he or she actually requires to complete the task and secure the desired result.

Another intrinsic benefit of this question is it allows for in real time performance review.  Since the person being led has both the opportunity to reflect as well as to request additional support, then this reduces the limitations that may impact securing desired results.

When the person being led returns on Monday morning with her or his response, the leader then can take the appropriate actions such as confirm target date, supply any additional resources, etc.  Now it is the responsibility of the leader (delegation) to monitor the progress by asking for daily or weekly updates depending upon the scope and size of the task.

Yes there are many good leadership questions, however I believe when we render many of those excellent questions down, this one rises to the top.

Care to know more about how to identify specific talents in your sales culture?  Click here to talk with Leanne Hoagland-Smith and you may gain just another leadership or sales nugget.

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Can You Afford Not to Delegate?

Delegation is a way of thinking and doing.  For many in business leadership roles, the ability to delegate is not a talent widely embraced. The reasons for this lack of delegation are many including:

delegate

Credit www.pixabay.com

  • No time
  • No money
  • No knowledge about available resources
  • No confidence in employees – fear in hiring wrong people
  • No confidence in themselves – fear of making a mistake

A recent report released by Salesforce Research of 300 small business owners revealed most small business owners rely on outdated and manual processes such as email and spreadsheets to store customer information.  This reliance on outdated processes is further wasting their limited time.

When reading this research, it appears the talent to delegate is a significant limiting factor to embracing newer processes especially when those processes are technology driven.  Most of these business leaders are the decision makers and appear to have time constraints as their number one limiting factor.

Truly forward thinking business owners bite the bullet so to speak and invest the time to find those resources to propel their enterprise forward.  These individuals accept there is an immediate, short term hit to cash flow and profitability yet in the long term they recognize not to take action will leave them even further behind the flow.

What I know from SMB owners to sales professionals to even frontline customer service people, all waste at least 12 minutes a day.  This wasted time translates to one hour per week.  If a business owner would schedule 15 uninterrupted minutes each day with intentional actions to research and then delegate some of his or her activities to others, he or she would have more time and probably even more dollars.

Additionally by embracing a proven goal setting process along with a functional tool (goal worksheet), business leaders can track their delegation and stay even more organized in less time.  What must take place is to step over the fear and the other limiting factors because the failure to embrace delegation will only further constrict sustainable business growth.

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Why Do Entrepreneurs Expect Employees to Be Mind Readers?

Attention entrepreneurs, do you become frustrated with how your employees communicate with you?  Does this frustration often times turn into aggravation to even developing a negative attitude toward one or more employees? Then there is a proven solution for you provided you have clarity before you make the your buying decision.

entrepreneursPossibly most of your frustration comes from a misalignment between how you receive your communication and how your employees deliver their communication? This misalignment creates a communication gap and over time this gap can increase unless you take the right action.

Giving employees communication training is potentially a good right action provided they understand how you as the business leader communicates.  Unfortunately what happens is the lack of clarity around how you best receive communication is never addressed. Communication is a two-way street not a one-way street. Your employees are not mind readers. Let me repeat that in big, bold letters.

Entrepreneurs – Your employees are not mind readers!

Imagine for a moment if your employees knew what to do and what not to do when communicating with you? Then imagine if you could adjust your communication style to work better with your employees, how

  • Much time could you save?
  • Many negative feelings could be reduced to eliminated?
  • Could your overall team productivity and results improve?

Research suggests most entrepreneurs are high problem solvers and work at a very fast pace.  They want to receive communication in a specific way such as being very specific as to what needs to be done.  Entrepreneurs also do not like to hear wild speculations without factual support.  Also research suggests most employees especially not at the C-Level give and receive communication in a very different way.  So far this same research has not revealed employees to be mind readers.

The solution to close this gap, reduce your frustration is available provided you have clarity as to what limiting your ability to effectively travel this two way street of communication.

Entrepreneurs -Take advantage of this special offer until 2/28/2017 and receive not only the DISC Index (a proven solution for effective communication), but the Values Index (what motivates you) and the Attribute Index (your 78 key talents). CLICK HERE to learn more.

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Self Leadership Is Required in Sales

In business there has always been a lot of attention directed to leadership.  Yet far lesser attention to this idea of self leadership.  As has been noted earlier, many presume people know how to lead themselves through earlier educational experiences.  However, research shows self leadership which falls into that bucket of people or soft skills is sorely lacking.

self-leadershipPeter Drucker said leadership is all about results.

Self leadership is about the individual getting results.

To secure the desired results begins with these two mindsets:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Motivation

Continuous improvement is a mindset where one is always challenging the status quo; looking toward the future and making changes if and when necessary. Sometimes the status quo is working and to make a change for the sake of making a change is simply ridiculous.

Motivation is also a mindset because the mind is what controls all behavior.  Using the Theory of Self Determination allows individuals to identify what is limiting their motivation:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Purpose (as it relates to people)

In some sales training or business leadership programs, self leadership is included as a subset of sales skills or even talent development. Again there is a presumption people have the capacity and consistently demonstrate this capacity.

If this was true,

  • why do 44% of salespeople give up after making one call? (Source: Scripted)
  • why do the average salespeople make only two attempts to contact a sales lead or prospect? (Source: Sirius Decisions)

Continuous improvement and motivation are essential in securing results and working with the other aspects within the 5 Star Sales Leadership Model. Top sales performers do not rely on the business in providing the incentive for ongoing learning or motivation through recognition or rewards.

In today’s world with so many solo entrepreneurs as well as businesses with under 20 employees, business leadership and sales leadership are partners. These two roles must work together to achieve sustainable business growth.

Until 2/28/2017, learn what motivates you as well as how your behave and what is driving your decision making process through this special opportunity.

 

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