As personal circumstances change, self-assess and “adjust you” as a first step.

We all go through changes in life, and every change has an impact on the trajectory of what happens next. Some changes we control and some we do not, but what we can always control is how we deal with change. Just speaking from my own experience…… I remember when I was in my twenties, which was when my role at work was mostly sales related. I prided myself on being one of the hardest working and most efficient sales people, which is what I knew I had to be in order to create enough business to scale to our company to the next level. Then I met my future wife and got married at 29. Of course this was a great change, and one that made me realize I needed to make some adjustments to me and how I spent my day so that I could spend quality time with her, while not letting my foot off the gas pedal in regards to my career and our company. I knew I did not want to give up my health and at the time I was working out in the evenings. My wife is an evening person and I am a morning person, so my self-assessment was that I needed to switch my workouts to happen before she would wake up, and I would work a bit later, so that when I got home, it would be home time and no more work.

Then at 32 we started having babies. We had our first baby girl and I realized I could not work late hours any longer. I did the self-assessment and realized I needed to get my non-interruption work (working when others are not, to focus on strategy/catch up items) done before my workout, so that I could come home around 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., rather than an hour later. The diagnosis was that my 5:15AM wake-up time needed to shift to 4:15AM. Done.

Then….. I ran out of my own 24 hours. I had taken away most of my “me” time, while still preserving my 1 hour alone time, my workout, and my family time. There were no more efficiencies to gain; so it was either accept that the professional pace could not continue and just settle for “normal”, or stay dedicated to growth on behalf of our clients, employees, and all other stakeholders. I chose the latter which meant bringing on additional leadership (and me changing regarding giving up leadership of certain areas), who had to be like-minded with similar drive and commitment to growth. I also had to shift my focus to making sure our management team continued to be solid, growing, and have the right mindset. If I had not made these choices, we would not have grown from 46 employees to 120 in the last three years.

In summary – had I known all the personal time changes I would need to make in order to continue having the GWC (“Get It”, “Want It”, and have the “Capacity” to do it) factor, I could have really been a superstar in my 20s; life was much easier, however we don’t know that until we experience each change in life. The main point of my message is that we all control how we choose to react to change, and we should never fall victim to believing outside factors are contributing to our new capacity issues we experience, without doing our own self-assessment and making changes to our own disciplines first.

The choice can also be to not change; just be conscious about it and recognize that all the factors around you have not changed and there will be issues to address and ultimately changes you will need to make so that you can stay balanced and satisfied in life.

 

As leaders we must provide the Whiteboard along with the motivation and accountability.

12 years ago I enhanced my workout routine by joining a gym that is focused on a circuit training type routine. The specific difference is that there is a Whiteboard that lays out all exercises to be completed within an hour. It is instructor led, but not one on one; we are broken up into groups and the instructor is there to educate us on the workout before we start, to answer questions as we move through the Whiteboard, and to motivate us to do the routine the right way and finish on time. The result is that my workout group has had the same people in it for all these years (low turnover) and everyone works hard and gets along. They are all top notch people in general as well. However, if you took the white board and instructor (our leader) away from us, we would probably just drink coffee and do a couple of sets of something, or we would most likely leave and go find a better leader/organization to be part of. Staying with the gym/workout theme….. Who do you think performs higher – people who go to an instructor/course led facility where they are held accountable, or those who go to a regular gym and their routine and motivation is all on them? Just walk into each type of facility and the answer is apparent.

People expect strategy, motivation, and accountability to be driven by leadership. It is a mistake to convince ourselves that the team should just be naturally motivated, strategic, and hold themselves accountable. If this were the case, why would leaders be needed. Only 10% of people do these things naturally and rise to the top. However, that 10% and the other 90%, expect the organization and their leader to lead them on their path to success. This is the same for me when I go to my 5:45 a.m. class each morning; My expectation is that I am going to show up, be led, and I am going to perform at a very high-level because of the environment, the leadership, and my peers all being on the same page.

Leaders should always provide the vision/plan, give guidance and motivate others for execution, and inspect/hold others accountable. Otherwise, the team might just be wondering around the gym and getting much less of a work-out completed.

 

 

If we were great actors we would be in Hollywood…..People see what you feel

As a leader, it is a constant battle to have the right plan, attitude, and belief that success is attainable and within reach. The leadership commitment is to exude confidence and be a positive force in the organization at all times. People check their leader(s) for genuine feeling/emotion constantly, and what they are looking for is positive energy, motivation, and hope.

When you are dealing with the biggest issues and are feeling a bit down – know that no matter what you do, your true feelings and state of mind are trickling down to those you lead. You may believe you are not showing a negative side to your team, and you may even say that your peers, but don’t fool yourself for too long. In these moments (which there are many in leadership) we must act swiftly and do whatever it takes to get our heads back in the right place; only then will others feed off of the positive energy they need and deserve, and in turn everyone is then part of the solution.

Reminds me of a great quote………..

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

If you fail to handle yourself first, others will feel it and the impact is magnified.

Having Great Relationships is the required foundation for future success

The importance of relationships is generally understood in business. Given there is little opposition to the concept it is easy to assume that all will act accordingly and need little guidance. However, we must be consistently intentional about the Relationships that are built and maintained with our Clients and Team Members. I am fortunate to have been brought up in environments where Relationships were at the forefront of how we cared for Clients and our Team Members, therefore it has always been the #1 focus and I would argue that it is what has made our organization special and attractive.  In regards to measurable results: Long-tenured team members, high client retention rates, and consistently performing at the highest level in our sector, are all attributed to our intense focus on Relationships, more than anything else.

Not many people in life give more than they receive (I recommend the book “Go Giver” if you have not read it), but that is exactly how great relationships start and how they are maintained. When this happens, the other side gives back in the form of trust which is the centerpiece of any great relationship. The hardest thing is training on this concept and getting people to really understand what it takes, and then to make sure they start doing it rather than just thinking they are. In regards to our clients, we should make sure to continuously train team members (typically sales will have the most responsibility in this area) on all that they should be doing to build great relationships, and we should inspect their efforts along the way and provide feedback/mentoring as needed. In regards to our team members, every Leader and Manager must have the same level of understanding as to what great relationships are and the commitment required to build them with those they lead, which is the only way for the concept to be ingrained in the organization’s culture.

While the concept of relationships being important is easy to understand, it is also the easiest to ignore in the face of other more tangible challenges. As we grow, our organizations will need new systems, additional team members, and we will confront many new issues. While all of these things should and will change, the one constant has to be our commitment to having the best Relationships with our Clients and our Team Members. Great Relationships will not only get us through it all, they will also be the reason that we lead the way.

Wildly successful teams are stacked with different personalities; they are mature enough to purposefully position that way, and they go the extra mile to effectively communicate with one another.

This is true at every level of the organization. We each have a personality type that is better suited for a certain role. The most successful leaders realize this and are purposeful in how they organize their team. An Executive Team with all the same personality types will fail to capitalize on all the opportunities to grow and deliver the expected results. The same goes for departmental teams; if everyone is the same, working together takes no effort, but failure is likely just around the corner.

Below is a snapshot of a behavioral analysis for MCCi’s Management Team (I have redacted all the initials other than mine). This is just one snapshot of a report that we are able to view – there are many others for each person’s personality, their decision making style, communication style, etc.

Understanding personalities and conforming to them is a leadership responsibility. As leaders, we should not expect others to conform to our personalities.

Many organizations have started personality testing prospective hires to make sure they have role alignment, which is the first step in building a successful team. The next step is to analyze existing teams and go through the exercise of understanding (which is the same thing as respecting) one another; there is much more relationship building and alignment work to do after joining forces.

 

Big changes require great plans, and great plans require even better audits

Things never go as planned with large projects/big changes. If the proper inspection cadence is not set as part of rolling out the plan, then it is futile to be frustrated by a lack of execution. I have accepted that where people (and even the best people) are required, certain things will not start, be done as intended, be finished, etc., without proper follow-up by the leader…….and that with more people, the chance of miss-alignment is magnified.

For the project to be worth starting, the leader of the project must be willing to do what is required for success and put in the inspection points at the onset. Similar to a meeting being unproductive with out a leader, agenda, and set duration, so is a plan that does not include an audit process.

 

Never “send” a client or prospective client to another department, or have them do what you can easily do for them.

As a consumer, have you ever thought… “Did they really just tell me to call someone else”, or “Did they really just make me fill out that form when they have my information right in front of them-don’t they want my business?”.

As organizations grow and become more complex, communication and systems are key in regards to retaining the ability to consistently delight clients, and delighting clients is the only way to grow. In my experience, communication is routinely the problem/solution. Yes, systems are key for long-term sustainability, but the human communication element can fix or break any system. Here are some simple examples:

Bad Client Communication:

  1. “You will need to contact our X Department”
  2. “We need you to fill out this application”

Good Client Communication:

  1. “I am going to go ahead and connect you with support by submitting a ticket on your behalf, so stick with me here.  Before I hit submit and give our support team a separate heads up, can you confirm for me that I have captured the issue correctly?”
  2. “I have all of your info right here, so let me fill that out in an effort to save you time. I will then have you verify/complete the form and we can get everything going asap”

This likely seems like common sense to those who innately focus on delighting clients.  However, it is easy for growing organizations to make the mistake of assuming every team member (especially newer team members) understand the commitment to delighting customers; it is something that must be ingrained in our culture, which means it has to be very apparent in the behavior of every person and department in the organization.

It is all about leaving the client/prospective client with positive closure every step of the way. And in those times when the answer is not apparent, recognizing that those are the times to shine as a true partner rather than just a vendor; these are the times that we get to dig in and seize the opportunity to show others the extent of our commitment to serve. I routinely reflect on how strong of a characteristic it is to genuinely CARE; it beats just about any strategy.