Leadership is About Impact by Jim Johnson

I met with my leadership team the other week to talk through a “what if” scenario.  The possibilities, as I explained, were exciting.  It would require more work.  It would require being challenged and stretched.  It would require change.

My leadership team then met (without me) a few days later to talk through this scenario.  They individually have shared with me some of what they discussed.

Not surprisingly, these leaders did not focus on how this scenario would impact them and their teams.  On the contrary, they focused on how they could impact the situation – how they would reallocate resources, elevate flexibility, and revisit procedures that had not been reviewed for a while.  They focused on how they could improve now to make the most effective impact later.

Today (it is a Thursday), try on a “what if” scenario for you and your team.  I’ll give you something to think about.

Imagine that your company measures NPS (net promoter score) as a metric that points to customer engagement/satisfaction/referrals.  Then imagine that your boss comes to you and says that your team’s performance in customer service had to improve from its current level of 59% NPS to 80%.  And you have 90 days to accomplish this.

Key Question:  how would you impact that challenge?

shocked womanI believe that many of us would quickly fall into the worry/stress mode of thinking:

  • “Is my boss nuts!?! That’s not possible!”
  • “Well, they better get me more staff if they want that to happen!”
  • “What do you want me to stop doing to start doing this?!”

But your boss is serious.  It has to be done.

So, what are you going to do to get there?

Start by envisioning a future that meets that goal.  Start by asking you and your team:

  • What would we do differently today to hit that goal in the future?
  • How would we think differently?
  • How would our team feel coming to work each day?
  • What would our customers experience differently as we worked toward this goal?
  • How would we shift from “this impacts me/us” to “how can I/we impact this goal”?

Brainstorm with your leadership team and members of your department.  Write down brainstormingyour responses to the questions above.  Agree on what the “new normal” will look like.  Then take action.  Yes, actually do this exercise as if it were real.  And watch what happens.  If you are the primary leader, take note of what the process in the 90 day time period:

  • How are natural leaders stepping up?
  • Who is “all in” and modeling the right stuff?
  • How is this exercise changing the team dynamic?
  • How are others outside of your department noticing what is happening (note:  don’t tell them you are doing this exercise – if your team is doing this well, others will notice)?

This is an exercise worth attempting especially if you and your team are “stuck” merely showing up for work, putting in the time, and then going home.  You and your team can make an impact – every day and in meaningful ways.

Leader, this all starts with you.  “Exemplary leaders are forward-thinking…Turning exciting possibilities into an inspiring shared vision ranks near the top of the list of every leader’s most important responsibilities.” (Kouzes & Posner)

Today, look for ways you and your team can impact your company’s results.  Dream.  Cast vision.  Push.  Impact.

Maxwell on leadership impact

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Expand Your Relationship Reach by Jim Johnson

Much has been written about networking.  There appears to be a change in how people view networking today.  Let me be clear – I enjoy networking events.  My brother and I started one that has grown to 3 major cities in 2 states!  But it’s how we and those who participate in First Fridays Fort Wayne approach networking that makes the difference.

To many, networking is simply about meeting as many people as you can at an event and handing out business cards as if they were candy.  Keep it upbeat.  Keep it on the surface.  High energy.  This, in and of itself, is not bad. That approach may work.

But it doesn’t work for me.  I want to encourage you to try a new approach.

How to Expand Your Relationship Reach

  • Approach Networking Intentionally. Go to an event in order to seek out new relationships.  That may result in exchanging business cards.  Absolutely be upbeat. But make your goal to get to know someone better.  Learn who they are, what drives them, how they impact the community, what leadership looks like to them in their current circumstance.
  • Follow up & Follow through. Networking events should not become a one-and-done event.  When you seek to get to know someone more, the networking event is only the start.  After the event, follow up with an email or a LinkedIn message.  Thank the person for their time.  Thank them for sharing with you – allowing you into their world.  Then invite them to coffee, breakfast, or lunch.  Guess what?  People will talk with you when you buy them a meal!  They really will!
  • Intentionally Prepare to Add Value. When you get together over coffee or a meal, come prepared with more questions to ask.  Prior to this meeting, visit their website (personal or business).  Review their LinkedIn profile and content.  Your goal should be to have an engaging conversation that will lead to understanding the person better, understanding their business, and how you can help them connect with others, grow their business, and become better.
  • Introduce Them to Other Leaders. Learn the skill of connecting people to people.  You will help your community to become better and stronger when you become a connector of people.
  • Continue the Connection. Share content you discover with new connections.  Do this via email or on LinkedIn.  Read content they’ve shared on LinkedIn and make positive comments.  Share their content with other leaders who you know would find that information valuable.  Drop them an encouraging email or text from time to time.  Invite them to a ballgame. In other words, nurture the relationship.

The result of intentionally doing this has created so many meaningful relationships with leaders in my community.  My 13 year old son constantly tells people, “my dad knows everyone.”  That’s not true, but he recognizes that I have worked hard at building relationships, and we have talked about why I do this and why it is important.

I have found no down-side to developing relationships in my community.  My life has been blessed by the people I’ve met:

  • A seasoned leader who continues to impact emerging leaders, entrepreneurs, and a mentor to men and women who are growing their businesses. He is an author and a proud dad to 2 accomplished children.
  • A leader who has served an Indiana Governor. She has been recognized with the highest award given to a citizen of our state.  She continues to impact our community through her economic development work.
  • A leader who influences young people through the arts. His choir has been a World Champion in a competition in China.  His vision will impact at risk young people for decades to come.
  • A leader who has served 2 Secretaries of Defense in Washington, D.C. He has shared what he has learned from world-class government leaders with local leaders here giving us a perspective few have had.
  • A leader who was an award winning news anchor shared how to communicate like a pro. Her insights from her experience inspired many leaders in our area.
  • A leader who recently shared his life story with me. From a high schooler who didn’t care about much to learn some hard lessons along his journey to an effective leader today who has fiercely decided he needed to self-develop for the good of his family, his company, and his community.

So, should I go to a network event?”  YES!  There are so many events out there.  I just want to encourage you to take a different approach to networking.  Think about it…then take action.

Jere greeetingYou will not regret developing relationships.  You will become better by doing this.  You will help others become better.  And, as a result, you will help your community become better.

(photo:  my brother doing his thing.  He’s a true connector!)