This is a key learning in leadership. Many leaders come in and to make themselves look good, they need to talk about the past in a disingenuous way. This is demoralising for staff who have been part of the journey.
Many years ago I managed a turnaround for an under performing sales team, I made the mistake of trashing the past, three years later I was reminded of how demoralising it was by my peer. I had no idea the impact I had.
With this approach you treating everyone the same, when it may be due to poor leadership, poor culture and any number of factors that the individuals have been subjected to.
Recently tasked with turning around a team, I recalled those important lessons, ensuring the team where recognised and that the transition was no reflection on the team. A critical lesson for taking people on the journey.
With a different perspective I could see the commitment and effort of each member of the team and appreciate their individual contribution. I felt for each and everyone of them, as the situation was not of their making.
As a mentor and a coach I often call out defensive behaviour and how it reflects poorly on the individual.
Far better when you feel you are being personally attacked especially in a group environment, take a breath, and another breath and then calmly ask the person why they feel the way they do? Why they came to the position they are taking? What they want you to do? In Dale Carnegies words ‘Seek to understand before you are understood”.
Defensive behaviour, hostile challenge and reactive leadership and the same thing: reacting badly to a situation.
I found the creative vs reactive leadership helpful, when dealing with areas I feel attached to.
Throughout my career the lens of setting precedence has been a key to success. I always ask, if I say yes to this what is the consequences? If I say no, what message am I sending?
Every day I apply this rule to whatever I am doing. Generally employees are looking for a yes answer to please their customer. Respect comes from setting boundaries and clearly stating the No position, where the commercial ramifications don’t make sense.
In any business there are bottlenecks, when the process is clear then the process is manageable, when the customer enters the process signing a document that outlines any delays may mean going to the back of queue, which equates to a painful delay, they take the signing of the document seriously. The same message verbally may not have impact. In fact has no impact as they are not committed.
When we make allowances, even when financially it does not make sense, we remove the barrier and the new the standard is set, proving the barrier can move. Now you are in trouble as you have no way of resetting as you have moved it once.
When the requests are financially impactful to your business, you are now in territory known as “what has no price has no value” where you are taken for Granted And the situation is financially unsustainable. The only answer as you now have a precedent that is challenging is to rip the band aid off and have the honest conversation, resetting the boundaries that should have been there from the outset.
The rule of precedent is simple, stick to the position where commercially it makes sense, as when you move, there are no boundaries left and you are now in a disrespectful, subservient relationship, which will result in further requests, as you have shown the boundaries move.
Where have you seen precedents set that are unsustainable? What was the impact? What was the outcome? What was the learning? What would you do differently? what was the impact on the cx?
Often our opinions are not heard by leaders, whether bias, credibility or other reasons. In that moment when there is no acknowledgement or you are shot down or the conversation moves on to someone who is listened to far more than you, you know that you flogging a dead horse. One of my colleagues has a saying “put it in the drawer and dust it down in two years”. When she told me this, I was puzzled. The reason: when I don’t get heard I keep going in the hope the message will land. Repetition irritates others and hope is never a strategy, its better to take my colleagues advice and move on and put the suggestion in the drawer for another day.
In the words of John Gruber: Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success. The inference is not to cling to your original idea, decision, or forecast even in the face of contradictory information. In fact, actively seek the contradictory information — this provides you with data to iteratively improve the situation or forecast, until you get to the right answer.
If you have not disproved your original opinion, when the opportunity comes knocking, you dust down your opinion and off you go for round 2! However by now you may also have a greater groundswell of support and evidence, but what was implemented is not working.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink: the power of thinking without thinking , makes the argument that people frequently make some of their best decisions in mere seconds. We think without thinking, sizing up situations and determining how we feel about someone or something based not on voluminous new information, but rather on our accumulated experience.
The alternative is that other facts or information have emerged, which demonstrates your opinion or idea was ill informed and its time to well and truly move on. This is also a great personal learning to reflect on what bias created the strong opinion in the first place?
A common question I get asked is how to connect with peers and leaders in the business, when there is not the opportunity to meet with them in your daily work.
Here are three ways you can connect to a wider circle in your organisation:
1. Share insights, information that you know will be valuable to the receiver. An example is being close to the customers I get to hear what is happening in the market, trends, changes in leadership and more. With this information I would text my boss and bosses, so they knew what was going on. My team also do the same thing, as we work in frontline of sales. I also send a weekly update across the division and beyond as people ask to be added to the distribution. The update contains key information on what is happening in the team, whats in the news relative to the customers we manage, insights, key frustrations for customers and focus for the following week.
2. When you spot a problem, Don’t walk past it, thinking its not your area. Own the development of the problem statement along with interested peers. Set up a workshop to outline the problem and brainstorm solutions with people that are interested in resolving the issue. This is an opportunity to get a cross functional team across the problem. The owner of the solution always emerges. Phenomenal opportunity to work with an extended network in your company
3. Praise your colleagues and leaders by thanking them personally in a call, email and internal workplace. Be specific about what they have done and utilise the company values to call out the behaviour that supported the value, and ensure your include their boss and bosses boss if relevant . We all love to be praised, recognising others is a great way to connect with your colleagues and leaders. Also call out your boss or leader if they have done something that inspires you, helps you or just for caring. It’s important for them as it is for you to be valued.
Creating connection with others is critical to being successful. The wider the network the more effective you can be in your role.
Just completed a 6 week resilience training with Phil Crenigan a leading executive coach and my team. I have personally worked with Phil for many years as a business coach, so the opportunity for team coaching during covid19 on resilience was a unique opportunity. There were many learning’s from our journey.
Three weeks into working from home the team were overwhelmed by workload due to covid19 and the many challenges Covid19 posed. The resilience team coaching was timely as they faced new challenges working from home, concerned for family overseas, financial challenges and motivational issues. The team shared vulnerabilities, what they were implementing from their leanings on the resilience g training, they supported each other and trust was built. Patrick Lecioni would have been proud of us. 5 Dysfunctions of a team
Personally there were many reflections, honest conversations with myself and recognition of what was needed to move forward.
Developing resilience means I can move on quicker from situations that challenge me, spend less emotional energy on catastrophizing, and move to action swiftly.
Building trust in the team is critical for people feeling comfortable talking about something that is so personal. The team have been amazing at sharing and supporting each other
Doing the self-assessment on resilience, I started by putting top marks in all the boxes. That is not being honest with myself. When I revisited I realized I need to ask for Support more.
Tools that I learned or re learnt:
When catastrophizing, what is the worst that can happen?
Asking for help more, working with peers and people outside the team
Greeting people in the lift, supermarket, waiting for a coffee: Lighting up their day
Revisit the team feedback about what I do well, keep doing it
Team coaching is critical to bringing the team together and during Covid having a forum to learn together really makes the difference. Resilience is critical during these uncertain times. Even if you think you can handle uncertainty well, there is always room for improvement.
This book was given to me by one of my team. I love reading and learning, so there is no better gift.
The Challenger Spirit book written by Khurshed Dehnugara and Claire Genkai Breeze, is a book written before its time. The key to being a challenger is ‘does it have to be like this?’ https://relume.co.uk/the-challenger-spirit/
Claire starts with two lasting influences on her life ‘your work is your love made visible’ by Khalil Gibran and the 5th century Philo ‘be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle’
The book is full of gems and sections of questions to ask yourself, very thought provoking. The highlights for me:
Our sales teams are service oriented with up selling and cross sale being a spin off from a conversation rather than the purpose of the conversation.
Establishment leaders v’s Challenger Leaders: Establishment leaders have four blindfolds: Arrogance, Avoidance, Agreement and Antagonism. The book describes each one and how it shows up.
Challenger organisations and their leaders are more likely to fail when they imitate rather than disturb their establishment competitors. They fail when they default to what is already known to be successful.
The process of constant feedback and alteration in your brain only begins to slow down in your eight decade
Once you have made some positive and bold choices created your dream together and engaged people in it, the uncertainty of the environment quickly becomes much easier to navigate
The chapter on growing old disgracefully is all about staying lean and hungry. And what good looks like: say what you believe regardless of political implications. The way you deliver it is the key to success as I have learnt over the years in corporate.
I have always been a challenger, in every aspect of my life. I live by the saying “if it not scary its not worth doing’ and my purpose is all about challenging others to operate outside their comfort zones.
This book is all about how to challenge well and even when the norms of the establishment look like a better way to get on in your career, staying true to what you believe and your values is the right thing to do and always deliver the best outcome for your company.
Girls should be taught that sexism in the workplace is an “attractive challenge” rather than developing a “hostile attitude” towards men, the former head of one of the country’s top schools has said. The article finished by saying “concentrate on the positives” of the future rather than on “putting on your armour for a battle”. Food for thought.
I was sent this article by an amazing mentor. I read with intrigue, as over the decades in business I reflected on my own behaviour, what it was that triggered the hostile versus the attractive challenge. Working in software and now telco sales predominantly male industries, I have developed a hostile attitude to the “boys club”.
As an example the attractive challenge approach gives support when a male is hiring, offering up a list of female candidates from your network, offering an introduction, or call them to see if they would be interested in the role. Offering to be on the interview panel. This approach is far more supporting and helpful to your unaware male colleagues, than being hostile over their behaviour.
The attractive challenge when facing a bias situation: I am often told I am passionate, a male would be called courageous. An attractive challenge is questions such as ‘what is different between me speaking up on an issue and John speaking up about this issue? Why is John courageous and I am passionate? ‘ Drawing the individual to their own realisation of bias. In contrast the hostile attitude is reacting with why do you label women as passionate and men courageous ? This is confrontational and wont achieve the same outcome.
We all have choices, the attractive challenge coming from a calm place and coaching which has a greater effect than a hostile attitude, where you can damage your brand and your relationships.
You have a software application written and you are excited by the opportunity to start your own business. Launching it is not enough, to successfully secure sales you need know your market.
History has proved that marketing is the key to launching a successful business, you can have the best solution, but marketing wins. Once that stands out for me was SQL and Nested database. The latter is superior for scale, simplicity, yet SQL won the business. The alternative is a slow burn of referrals, which can work, but takes time.
So here are the steps:
Target market: Who are you selling to? What is their demographic? How do you get to the target audience(what do they read, what apps do they use)? Why are they buying?
Knowing how you reach your target audience is critical and knowing why they would buy your product?
1. Get a database of your target audience. There are many options to gaining access to a database:
Utilise a company with same target audience: ie customer segmentation, industry segment and/ or regional. Set up a referral fee in exchange for using their database. If B2B business to Business then buy a list: Illion, Core logic, listing company Or: Building your own database, utilise the internet for research
Dont proceed to step 1 without knowing who is your target audience. You will waste money and time, both precious.
2. Whats your message? Why are your target audience interested?
Why use your product?
Testimonials from exisiting customers
Referrals. Will your customers refer to other customers
Social media, connect with Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
PR; utilise a PR company in your sector, to get the message out their.
Note: Educating a new market is not for the faint hearted, definitely for organisations with deep pockets. If people don’t get it and you are not making sales, relook at the offering and your target audience. Jeffrey Moors book “Crossing the Chasm” describes early adopters in his book. Basically you need to look for risk takers
3. Easy to buy from
Once you have steps 1 and 2 nailed, can your target audience order your product simply and easily. If its too complicated, then you will not secure the business even if step 1 and 2 are executed well.
How many prospects have abandoned the process in coming on board, as it is to complex.
4. Build a business plan and cash flow and take it out to your network to test the above. Is the target marker large enough? Sold some niche products in my time and one the target market in Australia was 400 companies, only 10% come to the market annually and have a 10 year lifespan. Even if you won 100% of 40 Companies is that enough revenue to deliver the profit you are looking for?
This is a great opportunity to tweak your plans before going ahead for real.
5. Press the button, register the company and execute your plans.