Earlier this year I had the privilege to facilitate and present at a Strategic Sales conference. The theme of the conference was ‘we all have ability – the difference is how you use it’. Fascinating discussions arose around individual skills and strengths (their super powers) and how to use them in the business as a whole rather than limit them to a specific branch. As in system thinking the true power of a business is recognised when people start working together towards a common goal. (The group/system is more powerful that the sum of the parts) In the process the team communicated across multiple levels and the fresh ideas and innovations put forward were used in developing a strategy execution plan. The result has been a 15% increase in GP over 6 months.
The 7 steps to maximising your super powers are:
- Know yourself. Understand what your strengths are and just as importantly what your weaknesses are.
- Talk to others in your team and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. You might need to go first to make the communication more transparent.
- Identify your business goals. What do you want to have done by the end of the year to achieve your strategy. Companies often call these CSF’s or critical success factors.
- As a team look at your strengths (in the team) and plan on how to best use these to achieve your business goals.
- Identify what weaknesses you have in the team and how you can reduce or eliminate them using the team strengths.
- Draw up a plan of action showing actions, responsible people and time lines.
- Measure progress monthly. Often plans need to be fine tuned because of changes in the company, market, customer or competitor.
Stephen Covey said that TRUST is the glue of life. The power of trust comes from it’s ability to inspire and influence. It strengthens relationships and is an essential ingredient in effective communication. All of these things are required if you are to be a good leader. People will only follow those that they trust.
There are 8 basic steps in building trust as a leader…none of them mutually exclusive.
- Never compromise on matters of principle or standards of excellence, even on matters of minor importance.
- Be persistent and never give up.
- Have a clear vision of where you are going and communicate it often.
- Know what you stand for and set high standards – don’t be afraid to tackle problems despite the risks.
- Spend less time managing and more time leading – lead by example.
- Bring out the best in others – hire the best people and delegate responsibility – but stay in touch.
- Have confidence in yourself and those around you – trust others.
- Accept blame for failures and credit others with success – possess integrity and personal courage.
A good test of whether you are trust worthy is to answer the 4 questions linked to the ‘Nature of Trust’ as discussed by William Shoemaker (6 August) at https://thehubcpn.wordpress.com/.
- Do you keep your promises? Often promises or commitments are made flippantly and in the heat of the moment. Consider your promise before committing to it. It is often useful to manage expectations by agreeing to a time line and stating any conditions, which would make it difficult to meet your promise.
- Are you open in your communication with everyone? I worked with a team who had a communication style of ‘brutal honesty’. Although open and honest this style often led to conflict. Be open in your communication but agree on a communication style with your team and associates. Even suspicion that the communication is less than open will make the listener doubt the message.
- Do you always act with honesty and integrity and without hidden agenda’s? Being transparent in your actions not only creates trust but more importantly allows others to focus on their own tasks without having to wonder about what else is happening.
- Do you always meet your obligations to look out for other people’s interests as well as your own? People are reluctant to follow instructions or decisions where the outcome will be unfavourable to them. Your decisions and actions will be followed and generally not questioned if others feel that you have their interests at heart.
I have worked with over 500 teams in Africa and Europe and found that one of the most important elements in developing high performance teams is teaching them how to build trust.
Noah had a ‘blue ocean strategy’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpb9UgXWf6Q setting him apart from everyone else, he used disruptive innovation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDrMAzCHFUU in finding solutions that were not expected and typically designed for a different set of customers.
Let us compare the three values Noah used while building the Ark against what we are expected to do for our customers today.
Availability – Noah and his family (team) were involved in planning and building the Ark, sourcing provisions and then collecting the animals. Noah and his family were always available to look after the animals with their needs. Noah did not delegate problems but solved them with the help of his team. Today our customers want the same level of availability from us and our teams. They want us to be there for them to answer questions, help solve problems and offer advice. They also want to know that they can always get the products or services we offer within a reasonable period of time.
Reliability – Noah made a promise to build the Ark and fill it with animals. Even though he went through some difficult times he persevered and delivered on his promise. Reliability is a cornerstone of trust. If our customers can rely on what we say and do it creates a trust relationship leading to a partnership. Customers buy from people they trust.
Knowledge – Noah had specific knowledge that floods were coming and with that knowledge became indispensable in executing the plan. Market and product knowledge can be used in the same way when shared with our customers through training sessions or strategic conversations. The power we gain from sharing knowledge with our customers and teams will lead to them seeking us out for advice. The more knowledge shared the greater our expert power.