Pinnacleceo's Take

Experiences put to paper…

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Four Highly Influential Factors to Personal Leadership Development

“Leadership is a journey, a quest with a definable destination. While it may not be clear at the beginning, the traits, habits, decisions and defining moment experiences you encounter along the way, create the personal map that will lead you to  yours.”

I want to talk with you about real, genuine leadership. Is there a difference and how can you spot it? I believe you can. How are they made? What do they possess that creates the perception of genuine leadership? I would like to explore four influencing factors to personal leadership development and their impact on the real deal.  They are: Traits, habits, decisions and defining moments.

1. Traits are personal characteristic unique to you.  This is the REAL you. For example, do you naturally think positive? Are you competitive, compassionate, resilient, or approachable? OR, are you negative, self-centered, lazy and obnoxious. Traits help shape the leader you are and will be.  I believe traits are composed of DNA and from acquired influences and experiences, successes and failures.  Think back to a great success in your life.  How did it influence your processes moving forward? How about a failure?  What impact did this have on your attitude to get up and go again? The traits you possess are the catalysts to the next influencing factor to your personal map to genuine leadership development: habits.

2. Simply put, habits are the things you do on auto-pilot.  Some good, some bad, some strange!  For example, I know someone that every time they get food, the automatically put salt on it first without tasting it! Can you believe it?  Just think of the blood pressure issues this can cause.  I know…this was me!   It was a habit and a BAD one. It caused me to experience a change in eating habits or face the consequences of what could happen to my personal health.  I think you see the point here.  Bad habits in your leadership style can permanently damage your ability to achieve the results you are pursuing.

Here are a few good habits for genuine leaders:

  1. Always be on time.  There is no greater indicator of your respect for another person than to honor their time.  This includes those you lead.  If you are on time, it sets the precedent for everyone to be on time.
  2. Value others: It is always beneficial to value the contributions of others. An organization will never be greater than the sum of the efforts of the people that represent it.
  3. Be transparent:  What you see is what you get.  You should automatically convey as a leader what you are about.  No hidden agenda here. Real and genuine can be seen from a great distance.
  4. Be Accountable and Hold Accountable: A great leader is accountable to themselves and to their team BUT they also intentionally keep score of results and their people too.
  5. Do what you say.  Your word is your bond.  There is no greater way to create and instill trust in those you lead than through simply doing what you say. I think the Dr. Suess character Horton the Elephant had it right when he stated and I quote. “I said what I meant and I meant what I said, an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent”.  If you say it, it should be considered DONE!

Decisions are the conclusions established and the actions that lead to the outcome. Every decision we make becomes a piece of the fabric that defines us. For example:  How did you come to the decision of choosing the career you are in? What other options could you have chosen? When you hire someone, what determines who you select? Do you look for a “yes man” or someone better than you?  How do you go about developing your business or marketing plan? Finally, how do you handle conflicts or controversy?  These are but a few of the decisions that make you the leader you are. When you look back at a few of these issues described above, can you now see how they influenced the person you are today?

The final factor to leadership development is defining moments.  These are events that take place and can happen so suddenly that at occurrence, the life you knew before the event happened, no longer exists.  An example of a personal defining moment was the birth of our first son.  Immediately at his delivery, the life of doing what my wife and I wanted, whenever we pleased, was gone.  When I held him in my arms for the first time, the desire to provide and care for him and my new level of responsibility took hold immediately!

Defining moments occur in leadership.  I remember a time when I took my business over the proverbial cliff and it almost took me into a financial abyss that I could not get out of.  Through all that, I will never forget the “self-talk” I had at my lowest moment.  It was a defining moment for me.  I realized that I could either let this beat me or I could get up, learn my lesson, and never put myself in this position again.  The trait of resilience displayed itself and I created a new set of habits that I have lived by to this very day that have sustained me and I passionately believe, will continue to sustain me throughout my life.

Through these highly influencing factors, I hope to lead my life and my company into the future: To develop and utilize my unique traits for the common good: To practice good habits, make the right decisions, and to put a high value on others.  But most importantly, I want to be transparent, what you see is what you get; someone you want to follow!

I don’t think a leader can get more genuine than this and after all, isn’t genuine, real leadership the destination we are all striving for?


“I Should Do Business With You Because…”

Imagine if you will that you are in front of every prospective person that you could ever do business with standing alongside your existing customers and clients.  A giant microphone falls from the sky; you have their undivided attention, no other distractions or noise.  All eyes and ears are on you; it’s your one big moment, what do you want them to know about why they should do business or continue to do business with you? Go…

I have posed this question many times in both training scenarios and in general conversations and I am amazed at the variation of answers I have heard.  Some people get it. They just do. For example, I asked a gentleman who installs sprinkler systems for a living why, given the fact that there are many choices for me to choose from, should I select you.  He without hesitation replied “because I won’t leave until you are completely comfortable on how to operate your control box”.  Good answer.

How many times in instances like the one above have you heard things like “It’s all covered in the owner’s manual” or “you can always visit our website” Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate these resources but it cannot replace the human commitment as was so eloquently described by the sprinkler man who by the way, was NOT the owner, he didn’t own shares in the company and probably was as high up on the company ladder as he would get. He was simply a man, who from my perspective, valued his job and the people he served; yet the way he answered my question on why I should choose him and his company, is a lesson for us all.

So let me ask you, how would you respond if given the opportunity as described above?  Would your answer come quickly and decisively or, would you have to think about for a bit or, would you have no idea what to say?

The answer to me comes quickly.  We will not provide you concepts and ideas and leave you to run with them on your own, we will stay with you until you see the things learned take hold and develop the path toward reaching your goals. We want what you get from us to STICK!

So I ask you again, what would your response be?  Take a moment and write it down.

Now that you see it on paper, how does it feel? Do you like what you see, how it sounds?   Does it reflect you and your organization? Based on the statement, if you were the customer, would you do business with you? Take a good look because we can’t go further until you believe it.  Once accomplished, we can move to the next question, but be on notice, you’ve answered the simple one!

Does your “why do business or continue to do business with me” response look something like this:

“We are the friendliest organization in town” or “we treat you as a person not an account number”.  You might have said “we get to know our customers one by one” or “we make doing business easy”.  Do these sound close?  Actually, these are the responses most often heard in our sessions when we ask this question.  I believe them to all be great responses, and if proven, would be great reasons to do business there. Agree?

Now for the next question…ready?  How do you know you are what you say?  Where does the validation come from?  This is a critical question because all the things you say you are, are of no value unless they can be proven. Validation comes from…that’s right, those people I mentioned in the first paragraph; your prospective and existing customer.  When your customers and potential customers perception is the mirror image of your message, you have credible validation that you truly are what you say you are.

This is important to note because every organization I know has a motto or mission statement.  You can find it on websites, newsletters and even sometimes on the wall behind the receptionist’s desk, but they are only words if they only time they are mentioned or seen, is behind office walls in staff meetings.

So in conclusion, it is important to be certain your message is being heard loud and clear above all the noise. Take advantage of every competitive edge you have and when your moment comes to shine above all, make certain that what your message says is validated externally by those you serve.

I believe if we adhere to this philosophy there will be more opportunities to be chosen as the provider of choice, and that means more sprinkler system control boxes to install than we can imagine.  I know you know what I mean.

Four Ways to Avoiding A Business Blindspot

At any given moment, while behind the wheel of your vehicle, you can encounter an event that leaves you with the feeling of complete helplessness.  It is the moment when someone enters the void where you simply can’t see them in your path and unless drastic measures are taken, something could go very wrong.  It is your blind spot.

I try to be a safe driver… seriously I do, but the other day, I was driving back from a meeting on what seemed a fairly empty three lane highway in the town where I live.  I am in the middle lane and I need to move over into the right lane to get on the loop and head to my office. I checked my mirror, no one behind me. I assumed (more about this later), all was clear.  I put on my blinker and proceeded to venture into the right lane when…

BEEP! Out of nowhere a motorcycle begins to swerve into the other lane.  Obviously he was in the lane I was moving into and I never saw it coming.  The driver of the two-wheeler proceeded to remind me of what I had done with a few hand signs and we both moved on much more shaken up than just a few shorts seconds ago.

How many times while driving or while working, do you say to yourself “I never saw it coming” and how often when this occurs does it seem to happen with just a moment’s notice?

The consequences of a blind spot in our business activity can be devastating as well. So here are a few tips on how to avoid them.

Know your market. It is important to know who you are marketing to, what they want, how they want it and also where they get it. Look for changes in perception and adjust accordingly. Also, it is equally important to know that your market is not just your customers it is your competitors too.  It is a great idea to know what they are up to, too…

Be alert. Look both ways.  I believe we can avoid many unfavorable situations if we are paying attention on purpose and look at every angle possible.  Several years ago I developed a software program that I believed to be a great product for senior citizens. This product was developed in the early stages of the Internet.

At that time, a younger more technically savvy market would have no problem logging on the Internet and downloading the software, but, the senior citizens did not share the same confidence. Our research told us this.

We determined that in order for seniors to feel confident, we would offer the software in a CD format.  While it did the same thing as a download, it felt more safe, it was something tangible to them (which we also learned was important then and still is today), and therefore more attractive to our market.

As I look back on those early years, had we just said we don’t care, the Internet is the only way to go and tried to convince them we were right, I fear we would not have been successful at all.  You see we knew are market and alertly paid attention to their needs and wants.

Take a proactive approach. I know this sounds simple but here is the point, don’t let someone or something sneak up on your blind spot.  Don’t get caught off guard. Always take the approach to perform and promote rather than respond and repair.

A great example of a proactive approach is to let customers know what to expect from doing business with you.  It is always beneficial to lay everything out on the table at the beginning, no surprises, than be forced into damage control unnecessarily later on.

Finally assume nothing. Take nothing for granted.  I knew a business owner years ago who was “the only game in town”. He assumed he had no worries, no competitors across the street so why do anything different.  This worked until what he offered could easily be purchased anytime, anywhere on that little box called a computer and using that little thing I referred to earlier; the Internet.   Never assume anything when it comes to your livelihood…can’t be more clear than that.

There you have it, four helpful tips to avoid your business blind spot. In closing I know there are times that you cannot avoid every unforeseen pitfall, But, if you ever experience one, just once, and you get the feeling of complete helplessness along with thoughts of what things might look like had the disaster actually happened, just like me when I almost hit that motorcyclist, you too will do everything within your power to never be put in that situation again. I know that is a feeling we all agree on avoiding!

Three Sticky Resolutions to Lead and Live By

Resolution: A resolve or determination. to make a firm commitment to do something;the mental state of being resolved;firmness of purpose.

At the start of every year, my fitness club is filled with New Year’s resolutions.  So much so, that at times, it is too crowded to get a workout in, and I have to come back..and I do go back!.  But now it is March and what was once a blur of effort has once again become status quo and the only people I see now are the same people that I haves shared stair masters, treadmills and weights with for the past five years.  These are those that stick.

Now I know these others mean well at the beginning, but what happens between the first of January and the first of March that creates this occurrence year after year?  Here are a few thoughts.

First, some people just can’t find the time or won’t make the time to keep coming.  It becomes too difficult to get in the car, let alone spend time exercising. Some stop because they don’t see the results they want quickly enough and give up (I can relate a little).

 Others need someone to encourage them and when their workout buddy quits, it is an open door for their exit too.  Finally some just don’t know what to do. They simply don’t know what needs to be done to sustain results and keep going. Regardless of the reason, these well-intended resolutions just don’t STICK!

As I was thinking about this it reminded me that I need resolve in business and my personal life. I too, have been guilty many a year of setting my sites on something and have fallen short. I have aimed high and missed. But regardless of my failures, I have found three resolutions that simply stick, no matter what.  They have never led me astray or disappointed me. They were the driving force to every success I have experienced and I believe they will lead me to the greatest experience I have yet to encounter.  Here are three sticky resolutions to live and lead by. 

Sticky Resolution 1: ethic of work-be a cultivator. I have a great friend who tells the story of spending many an hour after school as a young man behind the wheel of a tractor. While others were out doing more fun things, he was cultivating the land to prepare for planting. This taught him a valuable lesson that he attributes to the success of his thriving law practice.  I believe it to. I have experienced many times doing “unfun” things that needed to be done in order to get a small business off the ground.  Cultivating is hard work. It requires sacrifice AND, not everyone is willing to do it. In order to reap from any venture, we have to first spend some time behind our own tractor. You know what I mean.

Sticky Resolution 2: Put people first. There is no other commodity on this earth more precious and valuable than being surrounded by good people.  It reminds me of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” when at the end, all the townspeople pitched in to help poor ole’ George Bailey who in reality, was the richest man in town!

Whether a friend, client, co-worker or employee or hey! A member of your family, surround yourself with good people and if you take care of them, they will help take care of everything else.   I don’t have enough paper to share my positive experiences by sticking to this resolution…  I can’t say this with more conviction than that. 

Sticky Resolution 3: Do the right thing everytime. Please, I know this may sound trite but I am sure all of us can reflect back on cross road decisions and the impact felt to this very day on choices made…both good and bad.

I had a client who had an investment mature and we needed to find the best, safest and highest yielding product we could find.  She lived on the income. The investment was a large amount and I was expecting to find a good renewal rate for her, and gain another commission for me.

After much research the best product for her, was an account that paid me nothing.  Here is the deal. My client trusted me and if I had chosen to do so, I could have moved her to another account that would not have paid as much interest, still met her criteria, and paid me a commission. She would have accepted this recommendation…I placed the funds in the zero commission to Tim account and when I did, I never felt better! 

So as you are perhaps refocusing or looking to invest in worthwhile resolutions, please consider these:
Commit to an ethic of work, be a cultivator, prepare for opportunities where you are
Think people first, they are our greatest resource and
 Just do the right thing everytime…period

I’ll admit like many well intended plans, they sound great, they are easy to write about BUT it takes real resolve to make them…stick!

All the best to you and what you do

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