Tag Archives: leadership

Thought on the Value of Failure…

Thomas J. Watson built a worldwide industry during his 42 years at IBM, where he served as CEO and Chairman. He was a pioneer in the development of accounting and computing equipment used today by business, government, science and industry.

Starting out as a bookkeeper at age 18, he went on to sell sewing machines and musical instruments, and then joined National Cash Register (NCR) as a salesman.

Eventually Watson worked his way up to general sales manager at NCR, inspiring the sales force with the motto, “THINK,” which later became a widely known symbol of IBM.

Watson developed IBM’s management style and corporate culture from his training at NCR, and turned the company into a highly-effective selling organization. To the surprise of many, one of his most famous sayings was, “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.”

Storytelling Can Be a Solution for Many Managerial & Leadership Challenges

leadership4Business leaders and managers often express their frustration when their directives, presentations, or other messages don’t seem to be heard or understood — or heeded!

Many report having to reiterate the same policies and procedures, only to have them fall on deaf ears again and again.

If this sounds familiar, there is a simple solution for today’s leaders!

As presented in a recent newsletter, storytelling has proved to be the key leadership technique for increasing understanding, buy-in, and compliance.

For example, in a recent Forbes article, author and consultant Steve Denning suggests, “Rather than merely advocating and counter-advocating propositional arguments, which lead to more arguments, leaders establish credibility and authenticity through telling their stories…

“When they [leaders] believe deeply in them, their stories resonate, generating creativity, interaction and transformation.”

“Stories can change the way we think, act, and feel,” says the editorial team at mindtools.com.

“They can form the foundations of an entire workplace culture, and they have the power to break down barriers and turn bad situations around. Stories can capture our imaginations, illustrate our ideas, arouse our passions, and inspire us in a way that cold, hard facts often can’t.”

Research by Paul Smith, a consumer research executive, indicates the following as being among the most common reasons for the use of stories by business leaders:

  • Inspiring the organization
  • Setting a vision
  • Training or teaching important lessons
  • Defining culture and values
  • Garnering organizational buy-in
  • Leading change

The 5 “I’s” in Team?

The business world has begun to see the deep connection between employee engagement and customer experience, productivity and profit.

Simply stated, highly-engaged employees try harder, make a stronger discretionary effort, and tend to drive business results!

They are twice as likely to work after their shift ends, twice as likely to do something good for the company that is unexpected of them, and three times as likely to make recommendations for company improvements, according to an Employee Engagement Benchmark Study by Temkin Group.

But despite the benefits of an engaged workforce, far too many organizations struggle to engage their employees, as evidenced by the fact that only thirty-percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged.

The 5 I’s
We’re all familiar with the quote, “There’s no “I” in team.”

Playing off of this adage, Temkin Group suggests there are actually 5 “I’s” in team…  and five key ways to engage your team.

Read the full article…

Balance the “Rear-view Mirror” With a Proactive Performance Management Plan

A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective team or sales management. The most successful approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.

Balancing the Rear View Mirror
Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month, quarter or trimester.

Consider that circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing. While the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly (in terms of lost opportunities) if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

As an alternative, the best approach is to adhere to a comprehensive and proactive performance management plan.

Read the full article…

Another Viewpoint on Leading a Sales Force

leadership4As a follow-up to our previous post, a recent article published on allinnetworking.com asks, “Are You the Julius Caesar of Sales Management?”

The perspective is consistent with many of our sales management-related posts, and suggests that great leaders share the following three attributes that are key components of engaging and motivating a team:

  1. They understand the people who are being led
  2. They lead by example
  3. They possess and exhibit a belief in the ability of those being led

See related article…

Are You More Interesting… or Interested?

interested2Do you strive to be interesting?

Many say they do… but whether you are a sales manager, business executive or business owner, consider that becoming more “interested” could be an important component of driving your organization’s sales growth and business development effort.

While great amounts of emphasis are more commonly placed on striving to become “interesting” in our interaction with others, consider how the alternative of becoming more “interested” might influence the various people involved.

As a sales manager or business executive, our ongoing responsibilities doubtlessly include driving growth and motivating the team. This typically involves helping sales people or team members to maintain a positive attitude as well as a belief in their ability to get the job done; it also involves managing processes so people stay focused on and work on the right things, and leading people toward mutual goal achievement.

It is not easy work.

It can become easier, however, when we find ways to consistently exhibit an honest interest in the work being done . And please note, this means becoming “interested” not only after the work has been done, but also while the work is being done! An after-the-fact or “rear-view mirror” approach to management can only yield judgment about past performance; but our “interest” while work is in progress enables us to influence results – hopefully for the better!

“Interested” people also tend to ask questions. So, this genuine interest can best be expressed by asking questions about day-to-day efforts, successes and challenges; we can then analyze the information gathered (by listening carefully to people’s answers to our questions) and proactively find ways to become involved. A steady diet of this type of interaction will quickly lead to a better understanding of the team’s attitude and aptitude.

But most of all, if consistently implemented this interactive and collegial management style has a tendency to send a strong implied message – a message that says we care! A message that says each team member is important and their work is important. We might be surprised at how much more effectively people perform their jobs when they realize how important their success really is from our perspective.

Paving the Road to “You Know Where?”

We are nearly two months into the new year, and I’m thinking aboutimportantVurgent the status of our resolutions.

In the business world, many of us have resolved to pursue revenue growth in one way or another, and our hearts tell us that this year we’ll succeed; our intentions are good!

However, it is commonly said that the road to “you know where” is paved with these good intentions! And as the adage suggests, many of January’s goals will sadly join the ranks of the unachieved, falling prey to the countless emergencies and new priorities that will most assuredly present themselves in the ensuing months.

If you’d like to take measures to avoid this oh-so-typical situation – that is, to avoid sacrificing the important in favor of the urgent, here are five ideas for keeping this year’s resolutions alive and well:

  1. Set both “result” and “activity” goals. Many of us will plan on increasing sales by X%, but fail to also set the activity goals that will generate the desired result. These may include making an extra number of sales contacts each day, attending a certain number of networking events each week or planning more customer retention meetings each month.
  2. Schedule the activities identified in step #1. Research indicates that things entered into calendars are less likely to be “postponed” or procrastinated due to other demands on our time.
  3. Keep score. Goal achievement will require documentation and consistent implementation.
  4. Measure progress and results; hold yourself and the team accountable for not only completing action steps, but also for assessing the effectiveness of each step.Make improvements or refine the approach as necessary – and be careful to avoid the usually-inaccurate conclusion that, “if the activities don’t produce the desired gains, then these activities are a waste of time!” Instead, if outcomes fall short, it’s better to reexamine execution.
  5. Hold yourself personally accountable for steps 1 through 4; lead the way!

Are You A Conative Person?

excusesA recent BusinessInsider.com article identified the word “conation” as being a critically-important element of success.

If you’re wondering (as I did) exactly what this word means, here’s one of the more straightforward definitions provided: “The will to succeed that shows up in single-minded pursuit of a goal.”

A “conative” person has this will.

The article notes that the opposite of conation is the tendency to think about doing things but not necessarily taking action; “excuses rather than action.” The article then goes on to suggest that the way we’ve been taught to learn is, unfortunately, cognitive, not conative; but being conative is better… “We do not think our way to a new way of acting. We act our way to a new way of thinking.”

If you want to change or achieve something new in your life, then you must do something different.  Be conative!

Foundational Team Building Blocks

teamWhether you are a sales manager, business owner or department head, building, motivating and nurturing your team are critically-important components of long-term success.

We came across a straightforward article on projecteve.com that offers some good ideas for effectively building high-performing teams, which include:

  1. Create a common purpose
  2. Recognize achievement
  3. Open communication

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