Fast Leadership

Are you a leader in a hurry? Are you rushing to lead? Do you feel urgency to “get your people up to speed?”

 

Those are all normal circumstances for many leaders, particularly new leaders. But here’s a word of caution. If you go too fast, if you get too far out in front of your people, if you’re dragging them along more than pulling them along you might not be leading them at all. 

 

You may want to consider slowing down to speed up your leadership potential. If your people can only see your back it makes it hard for them to hear what you’re saying. If your people are constantly looking at your back it will be hard for you to show them that you care for them. 

 

If you never slow down enough for your people to catch up then when you do eventually turn around you’ll discover there is no one there. You will have lost the opportunity to lead.

 

Inexperienced leaders often feel that leadership requires them to be out front at all times. More experienced and successful leaders would tell you that you lead from the middle at times. Other times you’ll have more success actually leading from the rear. 

 

Living out front all the time makes it harder to connect with your people. It separates you from them and only provides you with a one dimensional view of their capabilities. It doesn’t take long for your people to believe you’re disconnected from their world and they are most likely right about that. 

 

It’s tough to coach from out front. The farther out front you are the tougher it is. You’ll discover it’s far more effective to coach your people when you’re along side of them. Your closeness will indicate you care and make it much harder for your people to claim you don’t understand what they are going through. 

 

Sometimes your people will need a push and they only place you can push them when you’re out front is to the rear. To push them forward you must be leading them from the rear. It takes an Authentic Leader to let their people be out front but out front is where the real growth takes place. 

 

Look around. Are some of your people along side of you? Are some of them in front of you? Are they all behind you? Are some of them way behind you? Are all of them way way behind you?

 

If you don’t like the answers to those questions then perhaps you need to slow down a bit and realize that leading people isn’t a sprint, it’s more like a marathon. It takes perseverance and stamina and heart. 


Do you have what it takes to authentically lead? Slow down a bit and consider your answer to that question before rushing to the front of the pack. 

The Benefits of Being Kind

Al Capone once said that you can get much farther in life with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone. 

 

I suppose he believed that but if you’re an Authentic Leader you don’t need the gun. Your influence along with a kind word will be more than enough to get you wherever you want to go. It will also be key in convincing your people to make the journey with you. 

 

I once knew a guy in a leadership position who was certain that being kind was a weakness. He frequently said he didn’t need to waste time on kindness because his people had no choice but to do what they were told. He was of course wrong. So wrong in fact that he’s not in a leadership position any longer. He doesn’t torment people who work for him anymore but I’m pretty confident he still torments himself on a regular basis. 

 

Being kind to others is good business. But kindness is about way more then business. I would submit that it’s impossible to live a happy and fully productive life without being kind to others. 

 

Being kind allows you to cope and overcome stressful situations. Being kind let’s you pay less attention to yourself and your problems. Doing something for the benefit of someone else takes your focus off of you and puts it on someone else. 

 

A truly kind person does not have ulterior motives for being kind. They are loving and giving out of the goodness of their heart. Kind people have a high level of self-esteem and because they love themselves first it let’s them care about others too. 

 

Kind people expect to be treated with respect and that expectation is often met. Kind people don’t have anything to prove to other people so they get to be themselves. Being kind allows you to be comfortable in your own skin. 

 

Just so we’re clear don’t mistake being nice with being kind. They are not the same. Being nice means treating people well and being polite. Being kind requires that you care for people and have the courage to show it. 


You can be nice to people while also be unkind. Don’t make that mistake. Care for others, show kindness whenever and wherever you can. It’s one of the kindest things you can do….for yourself! 


Customer Relationships

I recently was asked by a business if I could help them determine the strength of the organization’s relationships with their customers. 

 

I said yes and then told them I could tell them the strength of those relationships immediately. They seemed puzzled until I told them their customers didn’t have a relationship with the organization. 

 

I could say that because no customer, not ever, has had an actual relationship, in the truest sense of the word, with a business or organization. Human beings only have real relationships with other human beings. (and pets of course) 

 

Businesses that think otherwise do so at their own risk. Successful businesses understand that customers only build relationships with people.  

 

That’s just one reason, albeit a major one, why organizations must take care of their employees. If you’re running a business then you must understand that you cannot have solid customer relationships when your employee relationships are nonexistent. 

 

Businesses that have a philosophy that says employees are interchangeable likes parts of a machine believe that the business “owns” the customer relationship. They believe that their people don’t matter. It’s a “organization first” philosophy. 

 

That philosophy shows itself in many ways. The quality of the product or service the company offers is reflected in that “organization first” thinking. The quality of customer service in an “organization first” business is always substandard. 

 

Turnover and recruiting expenses are often through the roof in an “organization first” company. So by the way is customer turnover. 

 

You will never, and yes I know never is a very strong word but I’m using it anyway. You will never find an organization that is decades old or even older that has an “organization first” philosophy. 

 

Those companies that have survived in good times and bad have a “people first” philosophy. They invest in their people. They build strong relationships with their people. They help their people grow. They know it’s their people who will build those vital relationships with their customers. 

 

If you’re running a business today don’t bother investing a dime to determine the strength of your customer relationships until you’re certain of the strength of the relationships with your own people. 


Building relationships with your people leads to your people building relationships with your customers. It’s the only way to sustain and grow your business.

Obsolete Salespeople

I heard a speaker several years ago say that in the not too distant future the sales profession wouldn’t exist. He said that everything, absolutely everything would be purchased online with no human interaction.

 

I thought that was one of those attention grabbing throw-away lines that speakers sometimes use to get the attention of their audience. (Not that I would ever do that) But he was serious, he really believed what he was saying. 

 

At the time I was certain he was wrong, in fact I thought it was a downright stupid thing to say. I’m not so sure anymore. Research shows that the Centennial Generation (that’s the generation just entering the workforce) would prefer as little contact with a person as possible when buying something.

 

Have you seen those commercials where you buy the car online and then go pick it up at a car vending machine? (I don’t know what else you would call it) That company was built for the Centennial Generation. 

 

There was a time when I couldn’t have imagined anyone buying a car without seeing and test driving it. Now I can easily imagine car dealers only existing to repair cars bought somewhere else. 

 

I still can’t believe that the sales profession will ever completely go away. But I can certainly foresee the day when there are far fewer people selling than there are today. That day is likely less than 10 years away and if you still want to be selling in 10 years then you had best start making some changes right now.

 

There are lots of very lazy salespeople around today. They are basically order takers who are unprepared, unaware of their customer’s needs, and unlikely to ever overcome an objection by proving the value of what they are selling. 

 

The good news is that they will be the first salespeople to leave the field of selling. The ones who remain will need to be professionals of the highest caliber. They personally will need to provide value to customers. They will be highly paid and much sought after professionals.

 

Think about this, if you can get everything you need, pricing information, product knowledge and customer support online then why would you need a salesperson mucking up the transaction? 

 

If you’re going to be in sales 10 years (or less) in the future you MUST add tangible benefits that a customer or prospect can’t get any other way. 

 

The question to ask yourself today is “what do I bring to the table?” 

 

Can you, with a high level of specificity state why someone should buy a particular product or service from you? I’m not asking why they should buy it from the company you work for, I’m asking why buy it from YOU as opposed to some other salesperson. 


This may sound harsh but if you can’t answer that question then you should plan on a career other than sales in the near future. Alexa, Siri or some other form of Artificial Intelligence will have taken your place.

Leadership Execution

There are many things that can cause a leader to fail. One of those things, and one that is not often talked about, is lack of execution.  

 

Holding a leadership position doesn’t automatically make someone more disciplined. Leaders may be superior vision casters but if they don’t have a solid plan to make that vision happen then their vision soon becomes clouded. If they do have a plan then they must also have the discipline to follow it. Many leaders don’t have the required discipline needed to execute their plan. 

 

Leaders also sometimes focus on less significant things at the expense of the things that really matter. I’ve literally seen leaders who were more concerned about what’s on the buffet table at lunch than they were about the content of a meeting. Some things matter more than others and leaders who execute well can tell the difference between the two. 

 

Another reason some leaders don’t execute well is that they don’t have the right people in the proper roles to make their vision come to life. Many leaders, perhaps even most leaders fail to realize the importance of placing people in roles where they have an opportunity to use their strengths. 

 

A large majority of people within an organization are promoted because they were good at what there were doing before the promotion. The assumption is that because there were good in one role they will be good in another role too. That may be partially true but there is more to consider. Much more.

 

Let’s say a person was a particularly skilled customer service representative. You recognize that skill and promote them to a leadership role within the customer service department. Their customer service skills may still shine but are they also good at helping other people shine as well? 

 

Your first level of execution may have been spot on. But if the people you put into leadership positions can’t help other people develop then your second level of execution is lacking. If you have potential superstar performers being “led” by people who aren’t truly leaders then your second level of execution is severely lacking. 

 

If your future top performers are not being led by your very best leaders then you’ve not only missed the boat on execution you didn’t even make it to the dock. One of two things will happen when your future top performers are being “led” by non leaders. The first one is their star will simply burn out; they stay with your organization but their potential has now been tamped down to almost nothing. The second and more likely result of potential superstars not being developed by the people above them is that they leave your organization and go on to succeed somewhere else.

 

How long do you think an organization can withstand that type of poor execution?

 

Leaders who execute well are two or three or four steps ahead of leaders who don’t. They not only consider the consequences of their decisions they consider the consequences of the consequences of the consequences. 


Successful leaders develop their plan and focus on the end goal to help themselves stay disciplined. They prioritize well and never let small things obscure the important ones. And most importantly, they grow their people on the way to success through solid execution with every level of their organization. 


The Lottery of Life

I don’t often buy lottery tickets. I do when there is a jackpot over $500 million or so but why bother with those pesky $200 or $300 million ones. 

 

I think lots of people are just like me. Lottery officials seem to confirm that. The higher the jackpot the longer the lines to buy tickets and the faster the jackpot grows. 

 

There are a lot of people who play the lottery of life the same way. They ask for a little help but what they mean is “do it for me.” They will actually refuse “some” help because they want enough “help” so that they don’t have to do a thing on their own to succeed. 

 

The people who truly win the lottery of life are the ones who have developed the discipline and work ethic to succeed on their own. Except they know they never really do it on their own. They work their butts off and accept whatever help they can get along the way and use it to boost their own efforts, not replace them.

 

There are certainly people who seem to “luck” their way to success. There are people who have the appearance of success handed to them. There are also a whole lot of people hoping for success to somehow magically appear.

 

But the surest way to find success is to look for it in the hard work and effort you put forth to earn it. 

 

The legendary baseball player Babe Ruth once said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” Are you that person? Do you suffer the setbacks that life offers and bounce back to try again? Are you working for success or hoping for success?

 

I don’t want anyone to stop hoping for something better but hope alone doesn’t accomplish much. Never allow hope to stop you from making a concerted effort to earn the success you’re hoping for. 


If you’re willing to work for it then I’m willing to bet you’ll find it. You’ll find it or you’ll make it but either way you’ll have won the biggest lottery of all. You’ll have won the lottery of life! 

The Line Between Respect and Fear

A leader needs the respect of their people. But do they also need their people to fear them? At least a little? 

 

It wasn’t too many years ago that one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies sent all of their new managers through what they called “Fear School.” It was designed to teach the new managers methods for instilling fear into their employees. 

 

That company believed that while respected leaders were a “nice to have” feared leaders were a “must have.” They knew that fear was a powerful motivator and it worked for them. Or at least it appeared to work. 

 

What they succeeded in doing was forcing the compliance of their people. Compliant people can produce immediate results that sometimes leads to short-term progress. Fear appears to create a sense of urgency in people but it’s not really urgency, it’s anxiety. That anxiety creates a lot of activity but very little productivity. 

 

People who are led by fear tend to live in survival mode. They aren’t interested in what’s best for the company or it’s customers. They are concerned with their own well-being and not making waves that could swamp them. Their focus is on themselves not the organization and that is not a recipe for success. 

 

Fear kills! It kills trust. It kills creativity. It kills communication. It kills good decision making. It kills action. 

 

Lead on fear long enough and you’ll kill your organization. 

 

While fear can force at least temporary compliance only respect can earn the commitment of your people. 

 

Leaders who earn the respect of their people have the opportunity to make them better. Respected leaders inspire their people to do more, be more and accomplish more. People who respect their leaders don’t feel the need to watch their backs. Instead they focus on the customer to make sure they are taken care of as well.

 

Earning respect comes from showing respect so Authentic Leaders put their people first. They build the trust necessary to create clear, open and effective communication. These leaders are not afraid to admit when they are wrong and they never dump the blame for their mistake on someone else. 

 

Respected leaders have to opportunity to build more leaders. Fear-based leaders can only hope to hang onto the followers they have. While respected leaders grow, fear-based leaders eventually just go. Go away that is. 

 

And yet the temptation for many a leader is to believe that they still need their people to fear them at least a little bit. If you’re one of those leaders I’d say to you to make certain that your fear-based leadership is not just a cover up for your own fear and insecurity. You may think you’re hiding beneath layers of intimidation and authority but eventually you’ll be discovered to be just another person with a leadership position who doesn’t lead at all.


If you’re going to truly lead you’ll need to risk allowing your people to see you fail from time to time. So stop with the fear tactics. Begin developing a strategy for building the trust of your people. You’ll soon discover that respect grows best when fertilized with that very same trust.