How Does the Influential Leader Compare?

Leadership Ahead

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” -Kenneth Blanchard

There are several types of leaders in our world today, but at the heart of it all, the influential leader is the one we’d most likely want to work for and respect. Influential leaders understand the power of a mind that’s eager to listen, to understand and to learn. Positional leaders tend to be threatened by others’ ideas.

Influential leaders lead with an inspiring spirit that focuses on “We” and less on “Me”. The influential leader’s goal is to inspire the team toward success and to celebrate the team members’ contributions. Positional leaders tend to lead from the top floor corner office, alienated from the team.

Influential leaders keep in balance the opinions and thoughts of others while the positional leader measures the comments of others as a metric for success. Influential leaders understand that leadership will not always make others happy but they understand the need to focus team members and customers on the goal, the mission, and the values that produce the greatest results.

Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Influential leaders are about what can be accomplished when the team aligns, collaborates, and wins together.

This holiday season, I encourage you to be a contributor to winning teams. If you’re a leader, train yourself to be the best influential leader you can be. Read great leadership books, identify three areas of your leadership life that you can work to improve, and seek honest input about your leadership life from the key people you trust and respect.

If you’re a member of  the team being lead by a secure and influential leader, celebrate that leader.  He or she is a gift to you! Express your gratitude and appreciation in ways that make it clear that you’re honored to be part of this leader’s team.

What difference do influential leaders make in the workplace today?  Share your story by clicking here.

Leadership Inspires Really Happy Customers

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“We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us. Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order”

~Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Have you ever encountered an employee who was obviously part of an organization that believed happy customers really matter? How about an employee who was obviously safe, cared for and empowered by her organization to lean toward customers in very tangible ways? If you’ve met someone like this, you’re certain to remember them.

Employees like this don’t happen by accident. They are trained, inspired and rewarded by great leaders who clearly articulate what they believe about customers and why customers are important to the organization.

Employees like this deserve to be celebrated. Here’s an employee you’ll never forget.

Jay tells his story of an encounter with Lydia, taking serious her ability to make customers really happy!

Jay was the best man in a wedding and had ordered his shoes from Zappos as instructed by the groom. He paid for 3 day shipping by UPS ground, and his package was lost in transit. When he called UPS to have his package held, the agent told him she couldn’t hold it until after one attempt to deliver it to the correct address. Knowing he wouldn’t have the shoes in time for the wedding, he asked again to have them held. The UPS agent said that while she couldn’t stop the shipment, Zappos might be able to since it shipped from their location.

Jay called Zappos and was wowed by Lydia’s customer service actions. To make things right, Lydia over-nighted a new pair of shoes to Jay’s wedding location, she moved him up to “VIP” status with Zappos, she stopped the shipment with UPS and had the shoes returned to Zappos. Then she removed the charge from Jay’s card and had the shoes delivered at no charge to him.

Jay’s response?  “Zappos has earned a customer for life — In addition to all of this, I originally ordered from them because they had the cheapest deal on the shoes I needed.”

Zappos did it again!  They delivered WOW through service, but for the leaders and employees, that’s just they way they do things.  That’s their culture!

Leaders who are great at communicating what they believe instill those beliefs in their employees. There’s nothing more powerful than an employee who’s been inspired to lean toward customers in very tangible ways. Great leaders inspire greatness, and these are the leaders people willingly choose to follow. That’s the essence of leadership!

Share your thoughts by clicking here.  I look forward to learning from you and your experiences!

Does Corporate Culture Matter?

“If you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own.”

~Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos

“Culture is a combination of attitudes, actions and beliefs that combined create pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation” (Fast Company).  It translates itself into the feelings and experiences people have when they encounter you and your business. And as we all know, how a person feels about their encounter determines the story they share with others.

I recently rented a car from a national rental company, and the culture I experienced was far less than positive. I encountered a manager who said he didn’t have my reserved car in stock, so he would “upgrade” me, only to find on their website that I had been downgraded. I offered to pay more money to upgrade to the car I wanted only to be coldly told, “No,”  there were no cars available in that class, so an upgrade wasn’t an option. I experienced a culture that didn’t care about customer needs and a culture that seemed programmed to say, “NO.” The whole experience left me disappointed, frustrated, and ready to share. That’s the power of a culture experienced.

Then there was a late night dinner at that the Havana Central Restaurant and Bar, Times Square NY that was an experience in culture of a different kind. Opening the door to enter the restaurant, two unknown ladies raved to us about the homemade Empanada’s, and from that moment on, the service, the atmosphere, the experience, and the food was exceptional!  I highly recommend the Havana Central Restaurant and Bar, Times Square.  There I experienced culture in the most positive, upbeat and festive ways. Simply put, I was wowed!

Havana Times Square

 (Havana Central Restaurant and Bar)

And then there’s the Southwest Airlines culture where I learned the power of “Leaning toward the customer.” I’ll never forget the day I watched as a Southwest manager greeted a distressed passenger connecting onto a Southwest flight from a transatlantic flight. This dear lady was upset because security wanted to confiscate the Holy Water she was bringing home to her ailing mother. The Southwest manager stepped in, took the Holy Water, had it packaged, paid for and shipped to the lady’s home overnight. One simple act that made a world of difference. That’s a culture that goes beyond talking about “Leaning toward the customer.” That’s a culture practically lived. That’s a culture that makes a difference and wows customers.

“If you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own.”  -Tony Hsieh

You and I are living proof that when a company gets the culture right, we have amazing experiences. And when a company drops the ball on culture we know the pain it creates. Whether you’re a single business owner with no employees or you’re the leader of a major corporation, your culture matters to the people you serve so give culture the time, attention and emotional energy it deserves. Culture determines the experiences of your guests. Corporate culture matters.

How has corporate culture affected your buying experiences? Share your story and help us to learn firsthand the power of corporate culture.

Gratitude: The Foundation of Abundance

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“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

~Eckhart Tolle

805 million people continue to struggle with hunger every day,”and I just opened my refrigerator to shelves of plenty…I’m grateful!

A recent walk through the halls of the 9/11 Memorial brought sacrifice to a level I’ve never before experienced…I’m thankful!

Lunch with a friend I haven’t seen for several months brought back great memories and reminded me that there are people around who take a genuine interest in others…I’m blessed!

This Thanksgiving week is a time when it comes natural to acknowledge all that makes us grateful. Now imagine a world where more people like us look for things to be grateful for beyond the Thanksgiving week.  Join me and thousands of others in completing a combined total of 2983 acts of compassion, gratitude and service .

As you do, pay attention to how your acts of gratitude impact your daily life. When gratitude is part of your daily routine, you’ll come to appreciated the abundant life your already living.

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”Albert Schweitzer

What acts of compassion, gratitude, and service you will perform? Post your thoughts here.

The Key to Success

 

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I’ve learned that one thing moves me to greater levels of success: ACTION. In the past, the three phrases that kept me from acting were…

“I’ll TRY to…”

“I need to do more research”

“Let me talk it over with…”  

I can’t recall one time that “trying” to do something actually made it happen…action makes things happen.

I’ve discovered that more research seldom gives me the confidence I need to act. Action has given me that confidence. After I commit to a project, then I can learn more about it, making it possible for me to ask informed and relevant questions at that time. I have better context. It is impossible to have all those answers before I commit to something.

I’ve stopped consulting people experiencing less success than what I’m going after because I found them quick to discourage, distract, and point to all the ways my efforts will fail.

Sometimes it is necessary to just say no to an opportunity. “No,” is an action, take it if you need too. And the sooner the better – then you are freed up to say yes to the right opportunities.

The one constant that continues moving me to greater knowledge and greater levels of success is action. And no action has been life threatening for me or anyone around me.

Experience has taught me that actions resulting in failure can be re-thought, re-directed, or stopped. The ability to change a decision reduces the risk and develops our courage to act.

Choose to live a life of action today. When faced with an opportunity, examine it, and then take some form of action. Say “yes” or say “no,” but do not put the opportunity off with excuses. Saying you’ll try or that you want to do more research is likely an excuse…neither produce the results we really want in life. Act decisively and be among the people who know the satisfaction of success.

Our world needs more doer’s in order to improve our quality of life. Look for your opportunity to take action, and when your opportunity comes, ACT.

Let me know how taking action makes a difference in your life.

 

Giving Value

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In a world where we’re often told, “No,” and people seem to go out of their way to do very little to serve others well, think of the difference it would make if you joined me in a commitment to give value whenever possible. We’d make a radical difference, and here’s why.

Jeffrey Gitomer said, “Adding implies you have to ‘buy to get.’ Giving means the customer receives BEFORE buying.”

Giving value is about surprising others with the unexpected before being asked. It’s about going beyond the norm to wow the people we serve each day. It’s about going beyond the competition to give in the most memorable ways.

In a world where people are looking for connections to grow their business, you can give value by making an introduction to the person who can best help that business grow. Find ways to solve challenges for your clients, and without a fee, offer the solution. And when you come across great articles, books or resources that will benefit your client, make the investment to get the resource into their hands as quickly as possible. Give value unconditionally. Give value simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Giving value compels us to spend more time thinking about what’s truly valuable to those with whom we engage.

Giving value inspires us to work diligently to understand the viewpoint and needs of those we serve.

Giving value motivates us to find ways to make a difference.

How will giving value impact the way you relate, engage, and sell?  Let me know what you think.

Positioned To Earn New Clients

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Have you ever accepted a business card with good intentions only to lose them to some black hole? It’s common knowledge that good intentions are simply good intentions. Without a clearly defined process and plan, you’ll soon discover that someone else is winning the business that was meant to be yours.

Rather than stuff great business cards in a place where you’ll forget them, create a well-defined sales-process that positions you as the go-to industry leader when potential clients are most ready and willing to invest in your services. A systematic process makes it possible for you to consistently follow-up, and it positions you as the valuable resource that you are.

A sales-process that includes consistent, value-added follow-up makes you more memorable to potential clients, allows you to educate them, and helps them see and experience your businesses culture long before they invest money in doing business with you. Through a process like this, potential clients get to know you, your values, and your way of approaching business. You become the trusted advisor/expert before you meet to ask for the sale. People are more likely to do business with someone they know, like and trust.

What would it mean for a potential client say to you,

“I have plans to use a service like yours later in the year and when I’m ready, I know exactly how to contact you. You do a great job of staying front and center of my mind by the way you stay in touch with me! I read everything you send my way, thank you!!”

Wouldn’t that be a compliment to you and your business? That’s the power of a well planned sales-process in action.

Are you positioned to be top of mind with potential clients the day they’re ready to buy? What about when they have a bad experience with your competitor and suddenly they’re actively pursuing a replacement?

The person who is top of mind, most familiar, most liked, and most trusted will be the person they likely turn to next. That person must be you. Position yourself for success and enjoy the ride!

What do you think?  Share your comments here.

The Buying Process

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I recently made a call to a particular business to place an order only to be told that they would need to call me back with an exact quote, their vendor was gone for the day. Satisfied with the response, I trusted the process would work. Three days later, with no return phone call, I purchased the product from a competitor simply because this businesses process failed me.

What I’m learning is that we most often buy people and processes over products and price.

Think about it. You decide to purchase a product or service, and with all things being equal, the factors that compel you to buy are most often either the person doing the selling or the person’s process.

A business owner recently told the story of getting quotes from four vendors before making a decision to purchase. This person wanted to buy from a particular vendor because they were a personal friend; however, there was a problem. This friend’s business had not given a quote and was taking an unusually long time to get back in touch.

On the other side, there were other less known vendors who had followed processes making them appear efficient and eager to do business. The competitor’s quote was in, and this business owner was struggling with what to do. Not wanting to give up on the personal friend, this business owner was at the point of being swayed by the competitor’s processes.

Think about your own buying experiences. Have you ever bought a product simply because you felt like you could trust the company since their people or their processes were efficient, timely, and as they promised?

Share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with this premise and why.

 

Make Decisions – Reach Your Dreams

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Every day there are things that you can do to more intentionally move toward your dreams and goals. Whether your goals are personal or business, they hinge on the decisions you make each day.

Realizing your dreams and goals depends upon your ability to…

1. Analyze information and opportunities well, but not to the point of death. There are people who love to study things to the point of indecision. They come up with one more question, they ask to see how it all works, and after all the research and analysis, they decide to “think about it some more.” Decisions can be over-studied and over-analyzed. Due diligence is important, but at some point you must to come a definitive “yes” or “no.”

2. Realize that decisions can be evaluated, altered, or even reversed if at some point you find them to be wrong. Learn to trust your gut, ask great questions, then take that leap of faith. The reward is always beyond the decision point. Chose to step out and act. In your actions you will discover there is a path that moves you intentionally toward your goals and dreams.

3. Train yourself to make clear, decisive decisions, declaring a simple “Yes” or “No” as often as possible. Avoid the temptation to fall into the cracks of indecision because indecision is the costliest option of all. Indecision leaves matters unresolved, matters that ruminate in your mind and vie for your attention. A decisive”Yes” or “No” frees you to move into your opportunity or onto your next opportunity which carries its own unique set of decisions.

Every decision presents opportunities to advance toward your dreams and goals, and every decision presents opportunities to settle back into the life and patterns you’ve come to know so well. Settling will never move you toward what you really want in life. Choosing to move forward in faith proves to be the most rewarding life.

I wish you the courage to say “YES” or “NO” today so that you move confidently toward your goals and dreams. That will be your most rewarding destiny. Move in that direction today!

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped!”

~Tony Robbins

 

The Art of Moving People

 

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You are in the business of moving people. Whether you are the leader of an organization, the owner of a business, the member of a sales team, the employee or parent, you are constantly moving people.

In his book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others Daniel Pink calls sales, the “art of moving people toward our ideas, our projects, or toward ourselves personally.”

In order to move people, we must seek to understand things from their perspective. The threat that keeps us from seeing from others’ perspective is our personal power. When we believe we have the best information, we feel powerful. When we’re convinced that we have the solution that’s best for everyone, we launch our personal power trips. And when we’re convinced beyond a doubt that we know better than anyone what others really need, we put ourselves in a most powerful situation.

While that power may feel good to us, it’s been proven to “anchor us too heavily to our own vantage point, (keeping us from) insufficiently adjusting to others’ perspectives,” Power and Perspectives Not Taken, Adam Galinsky, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Our personal power keeps us from seeing from other people’s perspectives. And the loss of people’s perspective inhibits us from moving people for the good of us all.

The next time you engage in a conversation where you want to move a person toward your ideas, your projects or toward yourself personally, surrender your personal power and make it your goal to first gain the other person’s perspective. Ask open-ended questions with an intent to discover real needs. Guard your mind from thinking over others while they’re talking. And take a real interest in what others are saying to you.

Perspective takers enjoy the art of moving people for their good.  What will you do to take the perspective of others today?

“Teach thy tongue to say, “I do not know,” and thou wilt progress.” –Maimonides