I set a goal for 2018 to read at least 12 books this year. In the spirit of accountability, here is what I’ve accomplished so far:
- Leverage (January)
- Mindset (3/4/18)
- The CEO Next Door (3/15/18)
- Millionaire Success Habits (3/4/18)
- High Performance Habits (4/3/18)
- The Energy Bus (4/4/18)
- Everyone Communicates, Few Connect (4/17/18)
- Strengths Finder 2.0 (May 2018)
- Born to Build (Clifton) (7/1/18)
On deck for me are the following books:
- Third Door
- Sharpen Your Verbal Edge
- The Future Belongs to Those Who Dare
- Super Connector
- The Surprising Power of the Coil
What are you reading?
You’ve heard the definition of insanity, right? “Doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results.” Yet (if we are honest), we all are guilty of this from time to time.
Here we are in the middle of 2018. Are you achieving the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Is your team meeting and exceeding their KPI’s? If not, perhaps it is because while your goals may have changed, your behaviors did not.
Why do we set new goals yet hold on to behaviors that we adopted years ago? Probably because we are comfortable with what we know. Also, many of us do not like to be pushed and a great many of us do not like change.
So if you want better results, what’s a leader to do? Try this:
Shock test. Sit down with your team leaders and ask them “if we had to produce drastically better results (i.e. 100% improvement) in the next 90 days:
- How would we approach our work differently?
- How would we feel about our work?
- What would we hear ourselves saying to each other, our customers, ourselves?
- How would our team’s focus need to change?
I actually ran this experiment last fall. Some of my managers still use the lessons they learned today and are getting more done with more intentional focus.
Read. Most of the ideas I get come from reading that I’ve done or am currently doing. Not that a specific idea comes from an author, but reading opens my mind to new concepts – a new way of thinking. When that happens, I’m in a mental environment where I can see new possibilities and try new things. And by reading, I don’t just mean books. Blogs, magazines, LinkedIn content. Expose yourself to new ideas and you’ll find new ideas to adopt and apply to get better results.
Network. Find local leaders (or online leaders) and connect with them. Pick their brains on ways they are working to become better. I know you will find great insight and inspiration from doing this.
Brainstorm. Get your team leaders together and, as a group, brainstorm on how you can improve. Push each other to think differently. Years ago, I read about the marketing team that was responsible for increasing sales of Raid – the bug spray. The team came together to figure out a way to jump start lagging sales results.
At one point, someone in the meeting asked, “what would we not do with Raid?” The group sat silently for a bit until someone said, “We could make it smell better.” Again, more silence. Then they began to discuss why the insect-killing spray smelled badly. Why couldn’t Raid smell better? So they experimented and created a more fragrant bug spray. And sales increased. All because in a brainstorming session someone asked a different question.
Accountability. Many times our teams are not meeting expectations because we have failed to hold them accountable for their performance. Coaching sessions have lost their edge. Metrics are not talked about. The team begins to live to the lowest common denominator (i.e. no one should rock the boat). Poor performance is glossed over.
It has been said that leaders should inspect what they expect. And that should be done regularly. It should be documented. Wins should be celebrated. Falling short must be addressed. Accountability gets your team living in “real-ville” quickly and consistently.
Accountability says that competence matters. Competence leads to confident team members. All this leads to better customer engagement and improved results.
Same ol’ same ol’ does not work. Be different. Do differently. Become better.
If you are in business, you want to better connect with your customers and/or potential customers. When we truly connect with others, we have the door open to more opportunities, deeper relationships, and bottom-line sales.
So, how do we better connect with others?
I have developed and taught the following to my staff as well as to others in people-connecting industries (which is pretty much all of our industries). My staff calls this the “Laffy-Taffy” approach to connection after a candy’s name. You’ll see why:
Our customers bring us many things. Some are evident and we see/hear them. Other things are “buried” and we have to explore and discover them.
How do get beneath the surface? The next steps are critical…
We have to actively and intentionally Listen, Ask, and Feel. Far too often we assume what our customers want. We push our agenda and don’t listen well. Our customers will share with us, but we need to truly listen to them, ask more questions, and empathize with them. Do not skip over this step! This is where the real connection begins!
Once you have spent the appropriate time in Listening, Asking, and Feeling, then (and only then) should you move to these next three steps. Think – based upon what the customer just shared with you, think through the options. Act – based on what you’ve just heard, take action. Don’t push your agenda. Act on THEIR agenda! And always Follow-Up/Follow-Through.
Does this process take a long time to do? Perhaps at the beginning, it might. If you are not comfortable with it, it may take a bit of time. But after practice, you will become far more confidently competent in your interactions. Your customers will open up more. They will share their appreciation of your efforts. They’ll tell others about you. You’ll get results.
Make great connections with your customers. Practice LAF TAF every chance you get. It makes a difference!
So you lead others within a great organization that you know does great things. You believe in your organization’s vision and mission.
But your team’s results are lack-luster.
How does this happen?
Perhaps it is because you have work to do in helping your team connect to its purpose, performance, and priorities.
“But I’ve promoted the vision! I’ve shared the mission!”
To build and keep momentum in peak performance, a leader must continually work to connect with his team. Communication can never be a one-and-done venture.
I’ve been blessed to have traveled all over the world. I’ve been on remote islands in the Philippines. I’ve been metro areas in the Netherlands. I’ve been on the road throughout Indonesia. Almost everywhere I’ve been, I’ve seen ads for Coca-Cola. You and I have seen countless TV ads for Coke. Does Coke really need to advertise their product? Do people really need to be told what Coke is? No.
But Coke continually markets Coke to keep its product top-of-mind for consumers everywhere.
Let me ask you: how are you keeping your team’s mission, performance targets, standards top-of-mind with each of your team members?
Organizations and leaders win when they continually connect with their team members. So when results are falling short, ask:
- How are we connecting with the staff?
- What could we/should we change in our communication to better connect with our team?
- Is this a communication issue or a training issue or both?
- What motivates our staff to “do more” in 2018?
Your team is capable of executing plans and doing outstanding work. They want to be a part of a team that wins.
It is your job as the leader to help connect the purpose, the performance, and the priorities of your work with each member on your team.
I’m reading the brand new book, The CEO Nextdoor. I highly recommend it! I want to share some thoughts and excerpts from the chapter entitled “Stand Out: How to Become Known.” I’ve talked with many staff members over the years who truly want to move up in the company. I’ve heard all kinds of stories of desire, and I’ve witnessed all sorts of tactics people employ to get to their next level. Here are some insights from authors, Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell on how to become known at work:
“Build relationships to deliver results for the good of the company – not your own self-interest.”
Make the Most of even the Toughest Boss Situations:
- Understand your boss’s goals. What does success look like to them? How does your role fit into that?
- Don’t guess their expectations and preferences. Ask. What are their top goals for your work?
- Let your boss help you. “People who see themselves as being invested in your success want to be consulted and involved i your important career moves.”
- Master the regular update on the things that matter. Send focused updates to your boss. “How do I help this individual above me achieve the goals for the enterprise? That’s the secret to making your superior your sponsor…”
Everyone wants to get noticed at work, right? Being busy is not what’s needed. Focus on adding “the most value and contribute what the organization values most.” “You need to make a contribution that moves the needle for the company. Something that is visibly and meaningfully core to what drives value.”
Oh, there’s more in this chapter. Do yourself a favor and order it today. It is well-written, thought-provoking, and it will challenge you to become better whether or not you are a CEO or are aspiring to become one.
Are you looking for leadership material to read and apply? I just found a great new resource called LeaderBox. Each month, LeaderBox will send you books on leadership as well as other resources to help you become better: a better leader, a better thinker, a better doer.
I am providing a link that you can use to learn more. Invest in yourself this year. LeaderBox can help!
Click on the icon below to get started:
Or follow this link to get started: LeaderBox