Every Person in Your Organization Must Understand This One Principle

Every person in your organization must understand this one principle - what they do in their role contributes to the profitability of your company. Profitability isn’t simply a goal to be achieved, it’s the outcome of the work your people do every day:

How they serve your customers.
How they think about the problems that have to be solved.
How they pay attention to detail.
How they lead and follow.

It’s the direct result of your commitment to them and their commitment to you.

Reality Check

You can make a profit and still not maximize profitability. That’s because profit is an absolute number - revenue minus expenses. While profitability is a relative number - a percentage that expresses the ratio between profit and revenue.

If profit measures how much money a company is earning, profitability measures the impact of your people on your business.

When two companies make the same profit and one is significantly more profitable, go straight to the people as the reason why.

The How

Simon Sinek wrote a great book titled Start With Why. If you haven’t read it, let me encourage you to do so.  Interestingly enough the subtitle of the book is even more intriguing to me: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Did you catch that? For all of the emphasis on why, when it comes to maximizing profitability through people, the most important word is HOW.

How does every person in your organization contribute to the profitability of your company in their role? That’s a statement first and a question second by design.

It’s the responsibility of leaders to consistently and relentlessly communicate how what people do, day in and day out, directly contributes to the profitability of their company.

When people are developed with the awareness of their impact, they have a lens through which to consider their actions, choices and decisions.

When this occurs, they have the ability to affect outcomes. Why? Because they can then answer the question of how on their own.

Have the Conversation

Clarity comes from understanding. Defining someone’s contribution to success allows them to be sure that what they do matters. If you can’t, don’t or won’t establish the how, you’re likely left with an assumption.

Do you really want to treat profitability as an assumption? Do you want to assume that people know the impact of their choices, decisions and actions or would you rather know with certainty?

Clarity is the result of communication.

It’s concerning to me how often really strong leaders are simply willing to assume that communication about profitability is occurring. Have the conversation with people. Engage them in awareness and understanding. Pose the scenarios and require them to think it through and work it through.

People drive the performance of a company. From the entry-level to the C-Suite. If you disagree, then I’m going to ask you why that person has a job in your company. We all benefit when we’re challenged to think about how what we do contributes to the profitability of our company.

To begin the conversation just ask someone what they did really well today or how they could have done better today. The question leads to awareness which gives you insight and that insight allows you to make better choices and decisions to achieve better outcomes through people.

Thoughtstarter

Make a point over the next week to ask several of your employees, team members or associates how they contribute to the profitability of your company in their role. Do they have the answer? Do you see their awareness, or lack of awareness, reflected in their choices, decisions and problem-solving ability?

Have you made a conscious effort to consistently communicate how individual roles contribute to profitability? Have you created a culture in which your people can answer that question independently?

Final Thought

As a leader, never forget that every area of your business, including profitability, is about one thing.

People.

Here’s to communication, clarity and results,

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts on this week's blog in the comments.


Family Favoritism is Alive and Well… and Limiting the Growth of Your Business

There’s no good outcome from allowing nepotism to be the deciding factor in a family member or friend getting a job within your company.  When you favor a friend or relative into the business, with little to no consideration of alignment to a role, you’re doing more harm than good to both them and the business.

It doesn’t mean that family and friends don’t have a place. After all, how does a business become a family business if there’s no family involved? Put simply, when you hire or promote people, including family members, who aren’t the best fit for the job, you’re encouraging misalignment.

#Thoughtstarter

No amount of love aligns a person to a role that doesn’t fit their behavioral style, leadership profile or driving forces for coming to work every day. Ask yourself if family members arrive at their positions on purpose or if they are placed in those roles with a healthy dose of “good luck” as their primary strategy for success. Misalignment between a person and their role isn’t resolved as a result of your intention for someone to be successful.

A Course of Action

In the two decades of serving the needs of leaders/owners of family-owned businesses, I’m continually struck by the compromise of performance standards driven by the belief and subjectivity that just because someone shares a lineage or friendship, they're going to bring superior performance to a role.

The best thing that leaders in family business can do to course-correct is to bring objectivity to the decisions of who gets a job within the company.

The Back-Story of Nepotism

Jaine was under-performing in her role and she knew it. For two years, her life was a self-described “living hell” and she wasn’t shy about sharing her opinion. She was the director of marketing. Her mother, and co-owner of the business, asked me to develop an understanding of where she was at and what should be done to correct the situation.

When I spoke with Jaine, here is exactly how she started the conversation: “I was put in this role because I’m my mother’s daughter, not because it’s what I wanted to do. She wants me in the company because that’s her vision and dream. I was an art major in college and my mom thought that my creativity would define my success in marketing. I wanted a job after graduation so I went along with it and I’ve regretted that decision ever since.”

This is the nightmare of nepotism within family businesses. Today, Jaine is a curator for an art museum in a major metro and she values her mom as a parent, rather than being frustrated by her as a business owner.

Fit Over Family

Within the business, there must be value in fit over family. Hiring someone simply because they’re related, but not aligned with their role, only prohibits or avoids family conflict for a moment.

On the other side of that decision are blind spots that are seen by everyone with the exception of the person that decided to favor family over fit.

5 Things to Consider When Hiring Family into the Business

Ask these questions if you’re looking to eliminate blind spots when hiring family into the business. Each of these have an emphasis that considers fit over family.

  1. Why is this family member the best person for the job? How have they earned this role ahead of other candidates?
  2. What are their unique skills and how will their talents and abilities deliver value to the role?
  3. What tension will be created within the family and the business by placing this person in this role?
  4. Am I hiring this person because they are the best fit and aligned to the role or am I selecting this person to avoid family conflict?
  5. What thought or perspective haven’t I considered? What are the potential blind spots?

Until next week,
Brent

Have you seen nepotism “in action”? I’d like to hear what you think or have you share your perspective and experiences.


The Growth of a Business Requires Constant Refinement

Thinking Differently About Growth

The growth of a business is fueled by the growth of people. Both are based on constant refinement and evolution. Small changes, or those of a bigger variety, should drive improvement and clarification as things move from simple to more complex.

If you’re growing and advancing, you’re consistently making refinements in your approach. 


The Morph

In the nearly two decades since I started Perpetual Development, my commitment to the growth and development of people, and the companies that they’re a part of has never changed. I know the following to be true: When you help people maximize and achieve their potential, they will do the same exact thing for you.

With this commitment in mind, when changes or refinements are required within my company they get made. I’ve never been afraid of morphing--the transformation that allows us to evolve, grow and achieve our potential.


The Growth Exchange

I learned a long time ago to never fall so in love with a method that it blinded me. Doing so would keep me from the objective of better serving our clients and achieving better outcomes.

If you invest in people, they will invest in you. Their growth is my growth. Your expansion is my expansion. It’s a growth exchange. The challenges of your growth are the challenges of my growth. Personally and professionally this has been proven to me over and over again.

And it all comes down to awareness.

It’s about:

  • recognizing strengths, shortcomings, failures, and successes.
  • reflecting and recognizing changes in direction and strategy
  • thinking bigger and beyond boundaries.


#Thoughtstarter

Our growth is a series of exchanges connected to the growth of others.


Our Maturity

The full breadth of our development, individually or organizationally, is truly perpetual. As I have evolved, so has the company. And as Perpetual Development has evolved so has the relationship and work we share with our family of clients.

Interestingly...most of our morphs have come as a result of people whose intention was helping me maximize my potential--growth exchange in action.

Last week I discussed the evolution taking place at Perpetual Development and how time away, intentional planning, and a willingness to go beyond boundaries has led to an evolved mission here at PDI.

It’s also what led to the new look and feel of PerpetualDevelopment.com. We’ve made it more clear, concise, and user-friendly so that there’s no question what we’re up to. And as always, I welcome your feedback. Thanks for being a part of this journey with us.

Here’s to continual evolution,

Brent


Clinging Tightly to the Past Can Limit Your Future Growth

A big thank you to each of the guest writers who contributed to the Thoughtwave Blog in the month of June. Each of them brought their own unique perspective to their topic and to their writing.

For me, the month of June was about stepping back from my writing to consider the WHY behind my writing. When you clearly understand why you’re doing something, there’s a higher level of connection to what you do and what you produce as an output. My writing break gave me that exact perspective.

What is Evolution?

This isn’t about asking and answering that question on a grand scale, so let’s look at it on a more practical level.

Have you ever experienced a breakthrough or had a breakout moment? A time when you really had to push beyond boundaries to get to something that brought you to another level?

If you have, then you can fully appreciate the clarity, focus and purpose that’s achieved as an outcome and the kind of results that are both possible and attainable.

Evolution is a process of change and continuous growth in a defined direction. It’s about moving from a simple level to a more complex level and valuing the progression as a part of achieving better results. It’s about our development.

Look and Laugh

During my break, I took the time to read some of my early articles and posts. I looked at them and laughed. My actual thought was, “Why in the world would anyone read these?”

The reason I asked the question is because I was looking at my writing through a different lens. My writing has evolved… thankfully. What it was then, isn’t what it is now. I expect more of myself and you should expect more of me as a part of the Thoughtwave Community.

My writing is better because of inputs and coaching from people who were willing to tell me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear, and they did/do so with an invested intent and purpose. These are people that I value. These are the people that have given me the ability to visually see my own evolution. I know that because I can look back at where this began and smile in considering where the company is now. I know that because of the investment they’ve made in my growth.

#Thoughtstarter

There’s no space for mediocrity when you’ve seen and experienced what growth and evolution produce.

Clinging Tightly

We all know people who cling so tightly to the past that they can’t see the need for growth into the future. They fail to evolve because they choose not to evolve. They hold on because they’re unwilling to let go.

For me, this viewpoint is suffocating because it stops evolution and growth in their tracks. It denies the future of opportunity and values something simple because of the work something more complex would require.

It’s not uncommon to see entrepreneurs who started a company cling too tightly to the past and fail to evolve as their industry, business, customers, opportunities and the world advance.

Meaningful Evolutions

Forward-thinking leaders foster growth and evolution as a requirement within their companies and among their people.

They see a direct connection between how their company brand evolves in relationship with their customers, clients, vendors, and industry. Growth-oriented leaders look to provoke connection through image and emotion in the customers’ minds while valuing the core elements of their unique identity.

This deliberate and purposeful progression is based on understanding what people want, need and desire from their company.

We’ve Come Full Circle

Perpetual Development, as the name might imply, is about continually evolving. We’ve seen so many changes over the last 20 years that it’s good to pause, consider and reflect.

In the last two years alone, we’ve started Thoughtwave, expanded and increased our social media presence, said goodbye to some and hello to many. While change is often necessary, evolution is impactful. The difference between change and evolution is that evolution must include development and/or advancement.

If, as I said earlier, clinging tightly to the past suffocates me, the continual advancement of Perpetual Development excites and frees me to consider all of the future evolutions that are possible.

Now Is The Time

It’s time for an evolution at Perpetual Development - One that remains true to the core of our identity but better reflects where we see ourselves heading into the future. One that values knowing both who we want to attract as a part of our community and who we don't.

The clarity of an evolution isn’t discovered in an arrogant view. It’s discovered in a purposeful view. 

To that end, we’re moving forward with purpose and on purpose. We’re headed in a forward direction and with greater clarity.

Final Thought

We’re glad you’re a part of our community, appreciate your readership and value your evolution.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.
Brent

P.S. View our updated Mission, Vision, and How statements below (click to enlarge) and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

PDI Mission

 

(click to enlarge)


Family Business. The Legacy of Generations.

Jordan Fee is a 4th-generation owner of Fee Insurance Group.

Recently, Jordan shared his thoughts on a series of questions centered on the business of family business. This candid insight from Jordan revealed his thoughts and perspectives as a next gen business owner.

Fee has been an independent, family-owned company for over 130 years. Jordan’s father, Allen, is the company CEO and his uncle, Bob, is the company president. Jordan is a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Authority on Workers Compensation (CAWC), and a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS).

Personally… Jordan and his wife, Heather, welcomed their first child in 2018.

Tell me about your earliest memories of being a part of a family business.
JF: Some of the earliest memories I have are of my mom bringing my brother and me to the office to see my dad, uncle, and grandpa. It was always a big deal for us because we got to have a pop every time.

What was the first work you can remember doing for the company? 
JF: Every year at Christmastime, we received calendars and my dad would always have my brother and I go out, around the community, and deliver them to some of our clients. It was always kind of a big deal.

When do you consciously remember saying, “I want to become a part of the family business”? 
JF: I always had a great appreciation for what my dad, grandpa, and my uncle did in regards to community, the relationships they built with people, and the type of work they did in helping people reduce risk.

Right out of college I went and did an internship in a medical malpractice insurance company in Minnesota. It was a great experience. I wanted to apply the same traits of work ethic and building relationships that my dad, uncle and grandpa exhibited. I wanted to do what my dad did but didn’t necessarily know it would mean the family business specifically.

The older I became, my early 20’s, the more evident it was to me that I had a connection to the insurance industry. Helping people with their insurance needs and reducing their risk was something I would enjoy and be comfortable having a conversation around. I also knew that I had room to grow and would be challenged in a good way.

This is when being part of the family business became a serious deal for me. I knew I really wanted to be a part of Fee as a company. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. I would challenge people who think it is; it’s actually harder working with family than it would be working in a company where people aren’t related.

Why is that?
JF: The expectations placed on me as a Fee were automatic. They were way more than what I would have experienced working with a company that wasn’t founded and led by family. The separation of family and the business is a challenge. We work together, but we also want to be able to enjoy each other outside of work. We are passionate and committed to our business. We also want to be able to enjoy family barbecues and holidays without work being the center of every conversation. Even when we’re dealing with something challenging or intense at the office. Someone who doesn’t work with family wouldn’t have this level of understanding or have to deal with the family work balance and blend.

How do you define your own identity given the family relationships and legacy? How do you work on defining you every day in this business?
JF: It’s definitely difficult.  You grow up and you come into this business and you see what others have done to make it successful. I’ve seen and heard the stories of what my grandfather did to grow this business by building relationships and establishing trust. I see the same commitment from my father and my uncle as well. I want to be known for the same level of relationship and trust with people. At the same time, I understand I’ve got to be my own person. I’m not them. I’ve got my own style. I’ve got different ways I go about things. I handle problems and situations differently than they do. The struggle, and the thing that I remind myself of continuously is, I’ve got to just be myself in all situations. I can’t constantly think, “Should I have handled it this way because that’s the way my dad would have handled this?” I’ve had to determine my own thoughts on situations while always keeping in mind what’s best for the company. It’s important that I know who I am and focus on my trajectory as a professional while valuing the perspectives shared by my father and my uncle.

So, when you started at the ground level, was that your idea? Was it your dad’s idea? Was it a requirement? 
JF: Allen, Bob, and I all agreed that’s where I was going to have to start in order to get a good understanding of how the business works and operates. If I earned a place of leadership, I would have a good understanding of why things happen, how success is achieved, why problems occur, and so forth. Entry-level work was a good place to start to be able to give me the best picture of how the work got done. How we deal with clients, how we deal with companies, and how we deal with our employees. This was about looking at the complete picture of the business.

Not long ago, you became an owner of the company. Did you always know that you wanted to work towards becoming an owner?
JF: You know, that’s a great question. I think once I got to the point where I decided the company meant enough to me that I wanted to be a part of it, as an individual, in the family, with this name, I knew that ownership was a potential. It wasn’t guaranteed and it was going to have to be earned over many years. Which it was. I feel comfortable in my leadership and abilities. But yet, I felt like the name, the company, this legacy went beyond my abilities. They meant enough to me that if I earned the opportunity, I would be honored to represent the ownership team of this organization because I believe in the mission, I love the legacy, and I want to do anything I can to preserve it into the future.

What is the most rewarding part of family business? 
JF: I think the most rewarding thing for me is the leadership and the people that have come before me. The people that made this company and made the brand what it is today across the state and beyond. To have that attached to my last name, that’s pretty rewarding. I’m very proud to be able to say, “I’m a Fee”. Again, it’s because of the leadership here, the people that are a part of the company, and all the loyal customers and clients that have trusted us to handle insurance and risk management for them over the lifetime of this organization. That trust in us, that’s rewarding to me. It’s rewarding for me to be viewed as a trusted advisor in this organization and continue to be viewed as a trusted advisor with our customers.

If you were to share one thought with NextGen leaders, who are pursuing ownership in a family business, what would it be? 
JF: Something that my dad always has stressed with us is never lose sight of your foundation and what’s important to you. For any NextGen thinking about leadership and ownership, I’d offer the same thought. If the legacy of your family business is important to you, if that’s your foundation, always remember that and never lose sight of that focus.

The legacy of Fee, moving it forward and getting even better for the people that have trusted in us for so long. That’s my foundation. Family business, just like any other business, doesn’t come without challenges. Always rely on the foundation of why you’re doing what you’re doing. I remind myself of this foundation regularly. Why I’m here, why I believe in Fee, how it aligns with who I am, and where I’d like to see it go into the future. This is how I know I’m in the right place and how NextGen family business leaders and owners will know they’re in the right spot.

This is the foundation that gives me the confidence that I’m doing what I want to do in further defining the legacy and leadership of our company.

- - -

Let us know your thoughts on this week's guest blog in the comments.


Vacations and Breaks Exist for a Reason

There’s a reason that breaks and vacations exist. Both provide the opportunity for us to gain or regain perspective. Both give us the opportunity to energize, re-energize and gain even greater clarity.

In my world, things move quickly and there’s never a lack of goals, achievements or objectives to accomplish. Many times self-induced, the pace of my days is consistently faster than slower. It’s how I’m wired and I’m grateful that this is how I was created. I’ve learned to embrace it and stopped apologizing for it a long time ago. It’s not for everybody, which is good, because this isn’t everybody’s life.

To take on each day as a new day and not rehash the day before is a view I value. It’s more about bringing a fresh perspective to a new day than it is about not reflecting on what occurred in previous days. In order to maintain a fresh perspective, breaks and vacations are a requirement, not an option.

In order to write well, you learn to value consistency. Writing coaches have told me that in order to become a better writer, I need to write between 500 and 2,000 words a day about anything. I just need to write. The same could, and should, be said about most things that we look to master. We must value the consistency of the practice and the work.

And yes… believe it or not, consistency also relates to knowing how to take breaks and vacations well. Not a view I understood for many years and one I’ve come to appreciate. Why? Not solely because of age or wisdom, but rather because of me knowing me. It’s about my own self-awareness. After all, the better I am to myself, the better I am for you.

The value of simple logic that makes sense is based on one thing...SIMPLE. I’ve often thought that the following sign should literally be hung outside my head on the front of my face. (Got the visual?)

“BRB. In order for me to be the best version of me, a break/vacation was required.”

A bit of a different approach; let me encourage you to think beyond boundaries about what you just read.

So, here’s what’s happening. I’m going to take a vacation and I’m going to take a writing break from Thoughtwave. During the month of June, I’ve lined up four people to contribute their thoughts and perspectives through their writing. Each guest has selected a topic and view that’s unique to them individually. Each person is at a different stage or place in their life and/or career. I trust you’ll enjoy reading what they have to share.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with each of you in July with even greater clarity and energy around my writing and around Thoughtwave.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful
Brent

P.S. The guest bloggers will be revealed on my Instagram (@PerpetualDevelopment) today!


The Five Generations of Leaders

Generations

By 2020 there will be five generations of leaders in the workplace.

The oldest generation in the workplace, the Traditionalists, were born between 1900 and 1945. They were told by their parents that they were to be seen and not heard. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II and truly understand what it means to persevere during tough times. Traditionalists consider work a privilege, which may lead to why they’re not afraid of long hours and expect the same of others.

The youngest generation in the workplace, Gen Z, was born after 1997. They are extremely technologically advanced, absorbing tons of new information daily. Generation Z does not rely on their parents as much as previous generations as technology has made it possible for them to start working at an earlier age than their parents.

The drastic differences among these generations can create a competitive advantage if we take the time to transform how we connect, lead, develop and manage.

“Innovation comes ultimately from a diversity of perspectives. So when you combine ideas from different industries or different cultures, that’s when you have the best sense of developing groundbreaking ideas.” - Frans Johansson

 

The Medici Effect

In 2004 Frans Johansson published The Medici Effect, an exploration of why robust innovation happens at the “intersection” where ideas from diverse cultures, disciplines, and industries collide. He highlights that “all new ideas are a combination of existing ideas.”

The intersection of generations in the workplace is exactly where opportunity resides. However, there are some generational assumptions to be avoided and some uncomfortable truths to confront.

Generational Assumptions

  1. Traditionalists are technologically incapable.
  2. Boomers are micro-managers.
  3. Gen X’ers are slackers.
  4. Millennials need constant praise and think everyone deserves a trophy.
  5. Gen Z’ers rather spend time on their phone than experience real life.

Uncomfortable Truths

  1. Everyone is sick of generational assumptions.
  2. Employees from all generations aren’t sure they understand their company’s strategy.
  3. All generations want to improve the customer experience.
  4. All generations understand the need to make technological advancements, but their organizations are slow to implement new technology.
  5. Having multiple generations in the workplace is an asset, not a liability.

So how do you connect, lead, develop and manage five generations? After assuring that they all understand your strategy, a good place to start would be with a defined purpose and common objective. Once the goal is established, focus on what each individual does well and don’t make assumptions about which generations will contribute what to the goal. Look for individuals from different generations who have common interests and pair them together to work towards a solution. Allow them to find the intersection of their ideas.

Thoughtstarter

Where have you experienced the intersection of ideas between multiple generations that created, or will create, a decidedly more impactful outcome for your project or company?

How will you engage the views of multiple generations to eliminate blind spots in your approach and/or decisions?

Be authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your answers to today’s Thoughtstarters in the comments.


Your Salespeople Better Be Business People or Your Business May Be Out of Business

The breadth, knowledge, and ability of your salespeople equal the breadth, knowledge, and ability for them to grow the business. If you want to improve the performance outcome of your sales team, you must first educate them about the business and develop their complete awareness between their decisions and outcomes in sales.

A given? Not at all. Salespeople are expected to do one thing... SELL.  Far easier said than done. In many cases, salespeople are unaware, under-equipped and unsupported in their quest. A lack of a focused approach around teaching them the business of the business will likely leave them unfulfilled and under-performing against the target or expectation.

Thoughtstarter

The mandate to “just go sell” is far easier said than done.
Why do you think this is and what do you think about this statement?

Salespeople as Business People

The leaders of sales teams would be well advised to invest in developing their salespeople to be business people. The days of having a sales manager/director/team leader do everything for a salesperson prevents growth rather than maximizing opportunities. Having someone else do what a salesperson should have the awareness, skill, and presence to do supports a lack of accountability and a lack of performance.

The leaders of salespeople and sales teams need to have a focused approach around increasing the awareness and knowledge of their salespeople connected to the business. This is the process of developing salespeople as business people.

Here are five characteristics of sales teams where their business knowledge is advancing sales growth.

The Sales and Business Behavior That’s Expected is Rewarded

Incentive and bonus compensation are directly connected to the performance that’s expected. They aren’t used to try and manage salespeople. Expected behaviors are defined and the incentive is the result of demonstrating those behaviors.

Beyond Price, the Salespeople Consider Margin in Relationship with Customers

Each investment that’s made has an expected rate of return. Considering customers in relation to profitability is no exception. Every customer deserves to be treated well. Every customer should not be treated the same. Knowing the true profitability of each customer is important to salespeople who think like business people. Here’s a primary question they’re asking - “Who in my territory/area is costing me more to do business with than if I weren’t doing business with them?”

They’re Defining a Complete Business Relationship

They recognize that if it’s only about the transaction, there’s no true depth or mutual business respect in the relationship. This is about having the necessary conversations dealing with the complete business dynamic (credit, turns, marketing expense, etc.) rather than just the sale.

Selling Isn’t Done In Isolation

Beyond the people that make it complex, the number of variables that have to be dealt with in sales and business is only increasing. No matter how local, business is truly global. If a salesperson doesn’t understand the potential variables throughout the world that can impact their world, they will be selling in isolation and doing so at their own peril. Maximizing awareness and not selling in isolation comes as the result of educating salespeople at a higher level and knowing that they have the capacity and demonstrated ability to turn that into forward-thinking conversations with customers.

They Understand the Total Picture of the Business

What happens in the business landscape most often has a direct connection to the sales landscape. Think about the number of times something has occurred outside of your business that had an impact on your business. Did you later realize that this was something you should have seen coming? Think about each of the points above and ask yourself how you see those impacting your salespeople and your business.

It’s imperative that salespeople understand their role as business people. A failure to do so means that the future of your business is at risk, both in terms of sales growth and sustainability into the future.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Why Assumption Fuels Leadership Ignorance

Great questions lead to great conversation. Meaningful questions lead to meaningful conversation and deep questions lead to a deep conversation.

Questions, and the answers they generate, are the source of awareness, insight, and growth for leaders within companies.

Thoughtstarter

How many times have you delayed or avoided asking a question because you were uncertain or afraid of the answer?

Better Because We Ask

Here’s a question you may have heard before:

Q: What happens when you assume?
A: You make an ass out of u and me.

My good friend and colleague Ryan Lisk, the author of the book RealTime Coaching, reminds readers of the importance of inquiry ahead of assumption.

My perspective and direct connection is that we improve our leadership when we ask more questions and make fewer statements. Why? Because inquiry is the fuel to gain greater clarity and understanding about an individual, situation, problem or challenge.

Fearful of Feedback

Anyone who knows me knows that I not only enjoy asking questions, I enjoy asking tough questions that make people think. And yet… when I first began writing Thoughtwave the idea of getting feedback from readers by asking them questions sort of stopped me in my tracks. That feeling was driven by the uncertainty of the potential answers. I was fearful of feedback, so I never really wanted to engage with or ask questions of the reader. That fear fueled my ignorance related to my writing.

Inputs and Improvement

Last year I wrote about CANI – constant and never-ending improvement. The idea that nothing is ever truly finished or perfect. There is ALWAYS room for improvement and the source of that improvement is often times based on the input and feedback from a group of people known as our employees, customers, clients, readers or community of followers.

No Fear

There should be no fear in asking questions to gain understanding and avoid assumption. If you listen to your employees, customers or community of supporters and seek feedback from them, you’ll understand what’s working well and where you have the opportunity to improve.

In nearly 20 years as an advisor to the leaders who run family businesses, I have come to learn this very important point:

Leadership ignorance is fueled by assumption and the fear to ask important questions that will reveal the true health of any pursuit or business.

I have experienced this individually related to my writing and advise on it regularly as it relates to leadership performance and the advancement of cultures within privately-held and family-owned businesses.

Feedback is essential in moving beyond assumption. It tells the story of the needs and wants of groups of people that are critical to our success. Those inputs, listened to by leaders with wisdom and discernment, offer a powerful combination in getting to the core of eliminating the contradictions that can stall leaders and their companies.

Don’t assume. It’s a bad place from which to make decisions. Ask more questions. This provides the context by which you can make better decisions.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful

Brent


Don't Let Trends Lead You Astray

In 1984 parachute pants were “in style.” I was in college and owned a pair of those trendy tight-fitting pants. I wore them twice and never wore them again. Ripstop nylon wasn’t exactly a breathable fabric and the teal color certainly stood out in a crowd. Looking back, I laugh and know that’s a trend I would have been best to ignore. Those pants were designed for somebody, but certainly not for the 6-foot-tall, 200-pound version of me.

There’s No Magic Pill

When you follow trends, especially in business, you may gain short-term progression or attention, with the trade-off being the loss of long-term focus connected to your goals, objectives, vision or identity.

The phrase “there’s no magic pill” exists to remind us that consistency beats trends regularly.

Want to lose weight? Consistency. Want to improve your physical ability? Consistency. Want to expand your book of business? Consistency. Want to build wealth through investing? Consistency. Want to reduce or eliminate debt? Consistency. Want to develop people to think differently? Consistency. Want to improve at something? Consistency. Want to grow a company? Consistency.

Consistency isn’t trendy… it’s consistent. It offers stability apart from variation or contradiction.

The Critical Question

There are a lot of things that chasing trends can cause you to do. Some of them good and some not so good. Here’s a critical question to ask yourself.

What does establishing consistent performance require me to do individually and/or organizationally?

Consistency doesn’t require you to forego an awareness and connectivity to trends. Chasing trends may, however, cause you to forego consistency in your sales performance, leadership or business evolution.

It’s a Matter of Discipline

In a practical sense, defying trends is about two things:

  1. Definition - Knowing who you want to be as a professional and/or what you want your company to be in the marketplace.
  2. Discipline -   Working consistently and relentlessly toward the definition of your identity versus letting a trend take you somewhere else, in an alternate direction or someplace you were never intended to go.

Thoughtstarter

You Do You is a trendy phrase/idea being featured in a variety of commercials and on billboards across the country. While it’s trendy, it’s also a great call for clarity about people being the people they want to be in the world. Here are a couple of connected thoughtstarters that will help you move beyond being trendy.

  • Before you can do you, you must first define who you want to be as a person. This is about understanding your identity.
  • In order for you to do you, you must consistently and relentlessly work with the awareness of knowing who you are as a person, leader, friend and more.

Think about it for a while.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.