This would have been the message if the speaker at your last business meeting presented in nursery rhymes: Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jump over The candle stick. You feel better, right? You now know what is expected of you and the definition of success. And, you have no real context for why it is important or idea about how to move forward.
We taught mice and pigeons to do all sorts of interesting things during my graduate school class in behavioral psychology. The principle is simple: provide a stimulus and elicit a response. The stimulus-response cycle still plays an important role in animal training today. And, it is evident in virtually every routine action we take. You don’t think about your response; you just make it. And at some point, it becomes automatic. On most days, those automatic responses are benign routines that allow you to effectively navigate. Unfortunately, they can also become anchors that prevent you from making a change that will transform your business and your life.
My presentations about leading change usually include a story about Double Stuf Oreos and Brussels Sprouts. You can view the story here, but the basic principle is simple: A child will willingly change what they are doing to reach a jar of cookies on top of your refrigerator. You seldom see them act with the same sense of urgency to acquire Brussels sprouts. With that in mind, leaders generate creative tension when the vision they create for change is compelling – like cookies – rather than boring like vegetables.
How do you define integrity? Is there an absolute definition? Or, do you find yourself quoting the phrase made famous by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: “I know it when I see it”? We know that it appears at or near the top of every list of desirable leadership traits. It is the essential ingredient for building and sustaining trust with others. Go ahead—take a stab at it. Integrity is . . . It is more difficult to define integrity than you thought, isn’t it?
The willingness and urgency to change are based on emotional readiness not intellectual understanding. If intellectual understanding – knowing what we should do – was all it took to change, the gap between realizing we need to do something different and the work of implementing that change would be non-existent. But that’s not how it works.
There are three realities in leadership: Leaders are defined by their results. The act of leadership is about the ability to influence others to accomplish the desired result. You will never succeed at your first [...]
Your best employees are contemplating quitting. Some of them already have – even though they are still on the job. Hiring is picking up – especially for the stars who more than compensate for their cost with superior performance. Your best employees will have the opportunity to leave. Are you vulnerable for an exodus? Chances are the answer is yes if you are guilty of any of the following:
I received this email last week. The author’s name has been withheld in order to protect his/her job: “I read your book Make Change Work. and it made me angry. What made me angry is the fact that I work as a management consultant for one of the largest consulting firms and I am ashamed how few (if any) of the wisdoms we actually take from your book and coach our clients accordingly. Very often, we are in gross ignorance of the very valid insights and tips you have in your little book.”
Three weeks back I wrote about my exceptional service experience at Sewell Lexus of Dallas. The theme of the post was that it was the Sewell people rather than their product that has kept me as a loyal customer for over 20 years. The premise behind that post is the same one I offered in my 2006 book, Results Rule!: Fundamentals are the minimum. Being distinctive is the difference if it adds value. I can purchase a Lexus from a number of different dealers. The quality and service of the Sewell staff makes them distinctive in a way that adds extreme value. The very nice folks that service GE kitchen appliances just reminded me that you can’t forget the first part of my premise: Fundamentals are the minimum. Because without the fundamentals, there is nothing you can do to stand out with your customers (at least not in a positive way).
Every change is evaluated against the result AND the damage inflicted during its implementation. Ignore the people side of the change (feelings and perceptions), and it is only a matter of time before the desired results suffer, too. The type of change needed in today’s successful organizations is continuous. It is generated from every level, and it requires engagement and commitment from those involved. You can mandate compliance. Commitment and engagement to make change work are volunteered when you focus on more than the end result.
Delivering customer service – at least the way it is practiced in most companies – is easy. The customer asks you for something, and you give it to them. Building a culture that is obsessed with serving customers is hard. Carl Sewell’s family of auto dealerships is at or near the top for sales and service with the brands they represent for one simple reason: They are the best at sustaining a culture that serves customers.
Culture change follows behavior and performance change not the other way around. If you buy into that premise, the behavior and performance you expect, enable, measure, reward, and hold people accountable for will become the habits that define the culture. The best organizations have clarity, alignment, and execution across each of these areas. And that leads to the question of “how do you know a change is taking place?”
There has to be something we can learn from Washington’s failure to address the debt limit, right? There are three very important lessons about leading change you can take from the chaos over approving the federal budget and raising the debt ceiling.
Don’t worry about the sale. Just take care of the customer. Give the customer the best customer service you can deliver, even if the customer isn’t buying, and eventually the sale will come.
This week we feature a guest blog by New York Times best-selling author, Larry Winget. It is based on his new book, Grow a Pair. I can't recommend this book enough. Buy it now, and then buy another copy for that person you know needs to grow a pair.