Latest "Leadership" Posts
You’ve heard it over and over again as CEO—delegate, delegate, delegate! Learning how to delegate is crucial for every CEO, yet research shows that one of the top areas board directors say CEOs still need to work on is “sharing leadership/delegation skills.”
With all of this focus on delegation, is there such a thing as over-delegation? You are, after all, CEO—NOT Chief Delegation Officer. So while it is important to delegate some things, not everything should be delegated.
Below are 5 areas of your business that are your responsibility to always monitor closely:
1) Quality Standards
As CEO of your company, as soon as you stop paying attention to the quality of your products and services, so will the rest of your employees. While you can delegate quality control to employees, you cannot delegate setting the quality standard. That comes from the top and should be protected by the top. The quality of your product or service will only be as high as the bar you set as CEO. No one has sharper eyes, ears, and intuitive knowledge of what quality means for your company than you.
2) Financial Health
Having your accounting and reporting tasks performed by trained CFOs and accountants is necessary, but what is not necessary is to yield all decisions about your company’s future and supporting tactical initiatives to your financial team. While your financial team is your right hand, you are exclusively responsible for telling that right hand which tasks to focus on accomplishing to maintain the financial health of your business.
Recently, I met with Bill Caskey, a friend and colleague in sales performance development, caskeyone.com. We were talking about what makes for remarkable sales performers. The right balance of mindset and mechanics was our conclusion. One without the other creates an unsustainable performance recipe. I later added one more ingredient:
Here is What it Looks Like:
- Mindset sets the frame for what is possible for yourself and your team. It is not a false bravado or an artificial “rah-rah” speech. This is the lens through which remarkable performers view the world. It is abundance-based and confidence comes from the concrete and accurate view of people, process and the marketplace.
- Mechanics include all of the baseline skills necessary to connect, build trust, diagnose, advise and present solutions to prospects. In the modern sales world this requires successfully expanding the participants in the process on both sides of the buying process.
- Magic is the least tangible, but still necessary component of discerning between several choices what is the best and most productive choice to make in a variety of leadership, management and selling circumstances.
My upcoming program for senior sales leadership is called, “The 3 Ms” based on the ideas of mindset, mechanics and magic. I built it because often the least invested in position is the one of sales leadership, yet it has the highest leverage for performance. If you are interested in learning about it or the upcoming start of our next Academy sessions, click here to provide us your information and we will get right back with you.
An entrepreneur shares the 5 most important lessons he learned while undergoing through the traumatic experience of closing down his business.
My friend Richard just closed his business. He’s a smart person, creative, ethical and hard-working. It was a big blow, but he’s a positive person and now he’s back at it. I asked him to share what he learned from the experience and I found his response so encouraging I wanted to share it:
“Having closed a thirty-year old commercial plumbing contracting business that I bought from its founders in 1999, I share these lessons learned for the benefit of my fellow serial entrepreneurs.
#1. Be Careful When Choosing Partners
After previously doing two large, successful projects in partnership with another specialty trade contractor, I learned the hard way that who you select as partners matters. Really matters, as in life and death matters.
When the senior executive with whom I had done the other projects left the firm, I had no reason to think that things wouldn’t continue in the same positive manner. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Not only did the new executives take $8 million of my scope of work after we secured a big hospital deal together, I ultimately had to file a lien and lawsuit for damages approximating $1 million.
#2. Don’t Wait to Deal With Problems
When my partner company started shorting my monthly draws by $30,000 to $40,000 towards the end of the project, I should have reduced payments to my vendors in kind.
Are you playing it safe? Phoning it in? Trying not lose more than you are trying to win? When you stop pushing, testing and challenging yourself, you risk a backward slide that could be permanent. It becomes permanent for the same reason they tell a thrown rider to get back on the horse. This past few weeks have included a number of stories I have heard that showed the kind of risk-taking I am talking about:
- An owner told a prospect that they had 30 days to buy or she would take the solution to the prospect’s competitor and give that competitor the market advantage. The prospect walked and their competitor is about to be market-taker.
- A sales rep called the CEO office of a Fortune 50 company, cold, to get an appointment…and got it.
- A company fired a client that represented over 10% of their revenue because of unreasonable demands. The client backed down and re-signed under favorable terms.
- Three companies landed their biggest deals ever – 8-figure deals, setting a new watermark for what is going to be possible for their future.
What is your big risk for this week? Month? Year? Are you pushing the limits of what you think is possible, or are you staying in your comfort zone? Growth happens past the limit of what you thought was possible. Grow.
For more on how to fight your fears, gain your prospects’ trust and much, much more check out my video interview with Ago here.
Learning how to delegate is crucial for a successful CEO. However, there are certain areas of your business that should always be under your control. Here are five.
There is such a push for leaders to delegate to their subordinates that it would be understandable for a business owner or CEO to think her job IS delegating. Maybe if you’re Larry Ellison or Jeff Immelt it is, but for the rest of us mortals, the job of CEO has a lot less glamor and a lot more day-to-day operational involvement.
As you grow your business, you will hire great people and should delegate as much of the business as you can and still have confidence. Having said that, there are some things that I believe you cannot delegate until you are much larger in size.
- Quality–Would you eat at a restaurant that the owner did not eat at regularly? Would you trust Steve Ballmer if he was using a Mac? The quality of your business, its products and services has to be inspected by you not just regularly, but daily. You also need to inspect it personally, not just through graphs and reports. The great CEOs I know check their quality personally and frequently. No one will have better eyes, ears, and intuitive knowledge of what quality means for the company than the founder, owner, and CEO.
- Innovation–Recently I spoke with an innovation consultant about whether innovation can be delegated. She told me that her company can provide a great deal of the process for ensuring innovation occurs regularly and effectively.
If your business is going to grow, you need employees who can think like an owner. Here are a few techniques to make that happen.
One of the great challenges in running a fast-growth company is aligning your company’s vision, mission, value, and culture with the daily activities of the business. It is vital, however, as the growth of your company is in part dictated by how quickly you can transfer these values from the mind of the owner to everyone else.
I have built four companies that grew at 10x each in less than 5 years. Here are some of the techniques I found useful in developing “owner’s eyes” in my people.
1) Pair up–As a leader, if you are operating alone, you are missing an opportunity for development. In growth companies, there are always new opportunities just around the corner, so you should always be developing people to go beyond their existing positions. Skills-training is relatively straightforward, but imparting the company’s mission, vision, and values to employees is more difficult. Spending time with your people and exposing them to your approach is a good start.
2) Repetition changes minds and habits–If you want people to see like you do, it helps to ask the same questions over and over. As you ask these questions when you are pairing up, they will subconsciously begin anticipating the questions and will seek to have the answers ready when asked. This is training that allows for the alignment of company values from one leader to another.
Ask these questions to your employees:
- How do we make money?
- What is our biggest cost that we control in our service or product?
- How do you help make us profitable?
If your employees in your company can answer these questions to your satisfaction, stop. You are doing everything you need to do and you should just keep doing it.
However, if not, then go to work.
Make it clear – You are not trying to teach an MBA level course. You are seeking clarity of what the 2-3 big levers are that make the key difference.
Connect the dots – Help every person to see what his or her contribution is to those few levers. Be specific. By getting people to see how their efforts change the numbers, you can reward behaviors that fit and correct behaviors that don’t. A trucking company I know explained to their drivers what the ratio of idling time was to fuel cost. Simple change, shut off trucks on deliveries that are two floors above the first floor, or unloading over more than one palette.
Monitor and reward – Behavior modification 101- what gets measured and reinforced gets done.
Before making the decision to downsize, you need to evaluate your sales efforts. Your real problem might just be a lackluster sales strategy.
Do you ever look around your office and ask yourself, “What are all of these people doing?” You look at your sales and revenues and they are flat or below projections. Your payroll, however, is still disproportionately robust. You start to wonder…Do we really need all of these people?
Before you grab a pencil and start plotting how to “right-size” your business, ask yourself a few questions first:
1) How does seasonality and business cycle affect your staff needs?
2) What does the backlog show the demand to be in the near future?
3) What does the pipeline show for the possible demand in the near future?
One of my great mentors once said, “All business problems are really sales problems.” An overstatement perhaps, but it is still something worth considering. Once you have looked at the fluctuations in your staffing demands based upon the questions above, you need to focus on ramping up your sales efforts.
Let me start with a confession–I have made almost all of the staffing mistakes you can make, some of them more than once. I have held onto staff when I should have trimmed. I have trimmed when I should have kept. It took me a while, but eventually I learned the lesson to hire slow and part ways fast when it is clear the relationship isn’t a good fit. Assuming you have done the same, that means you have a really strong staff who are underused.
Here are four common assumptions that CEOs make, and how you can avoid them.
Having been in the CEO role a half-dozen times, I have made a wide variety of foibles, blunders, misguided assumptions, and bonehead choices. Most of the great CEOs I have the privilege to know and work with are self-effacing people who can recognize mistakes along the way.
Employees understand what customers’ value. Often in the transactional activity of day-to-day work, the waters become murky as to why one customer has chosen to work with your company. Ask your employees why your customer’s choose your company over a competitor. This will provide you the data that is at best incomplete and at worst completely wrong. Transaction data is about accuracy, speed and reliability, which are pure service values. The next level up is about quality, product, and availability. The real value for your biggest customers comes from what problem in their business revenue, supply, and cost chains that you solve.
Customers understand what your company does for them. When a customer chooses your company for a service, it is typically to solve a particular problem or supply a service or product. Over time, you become a vendor/supplier who is favored as much out of habit. Time and again, companies tell me that they meet with long-time customers and are asked to refer another company to help their customer with a problem that the company provides now. It drives owners crazy, obviously. Make sure your customer recognizes all the solutions you have to offer.
Insurance may not be sexy, but it is becoming a bigger expense for almost every business. Here are the five common insurance mistakes and how they affect the bottom line.
Recently I had an interesting conversation with a CEO about blind spots in business leadership. In particular, she was discussing the way businesses purchase and manage insurance. She said it was one of her blind spots which she eventually recognized the hard way. With that in mind, I called Dave Dias, a friend of mine from InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com, and asked him what were the most common mistakes CEOs made regarding insurance. Below, he explains the five biggest mistakes:
If a CEO is disengaged at the time of policy placement or when a significant claim occurs, it will almost certainly cost the company money. Consider the example of one CEO who couldn’t have been more removed during a sensitive claim-settlement negotiation following a major fire loss. He wasn’t conversant on the issues and relied exclusively on his staff. By the time the CEO re-engaged and began asking pertinent questions, the most germane issues had already been negotiated and settled. The financial loss was in the tens of thousands of dollars. His absence was a big miss; the matter would have been mitigated more in his favor had the CEO been more engaged from day one.
Allowing Procedure To Trump Leadership
Overanalyzing an issue “by committee” delays critically-important decisions and costs the company money. One CEO was overly concerned about getting everyone’s buy-in for the implementation of a newly formed safety-compliance committee.