Customer Supremacy 

If you Google “the purpose of a business” you’ll find many statements about what a business is supposed to be about. One example says the primary purpose of a business is to “maximize profits for its owners or stakeholders while maintaining corporate social responsibility.”

I kind of like that one, I don’t disagree with any of it but there is a huge hole in that statement. 

The great business guru, Peter Drucker, fills that hole with his statement that “the purpose of a business is to create a customer.” I wholeheartedly agree with that but it’s an over simplification. Placing your sole focus on creating customers is not a sustainable business model, especially these days. 

If I were to answer the question, “what is the purpose of a business?” I’d say it is to create customers and nurture a sustainable and profitable relationship with those customers over a very long period of time. All this while adding real value to the communities where your business is conducted, be it in your neighborhood or around the world. 

There is a lot to that statement. The customer for instance is the final arbiter of whether or not the relationship is “profitable” for them. They determine whether or not the products or services they receive in return for what they have spent is of value. Ultimately the customer is the only one who gets a vote in this. 

Similarly, it is the communities where the business is conducted that get to decide whether or not the business is adding value to ALL members of the community. Even the members who may not be customers of that business. 

Customers are the center of every business. Every business. Up until very recently I would have thought this was common knowledge. But as is often the case I was wrong. 

In a recent conversation with a business person, a person very high up in their organization, it was explained to me that it’s possible for a business to “mature” to the point where they no longer need customers. In fact, they may be better off without them. 

I’m seldom at a loss for words but I was completely flummoxed by this statement. Rather than respond immediately I remained silent while I tried to digest what I just heard. I figured there must be something I missed, or I was misunderstanding what was said. 

Instead of replying I kept in mind one of Dale Carnegie’s principles that says “the only way to get the best of an argument is to void it.” I said I must have missed something and I asked for clarification. 

The statement was repeated almost exactly as it was said the first time. 

This is from a person positioned high enough within their organization to affect every decision where a customer is concerned. I’m not at all certain that they realize that the profits their company uses to stay in business come ONLY from the customers they claim not to need. Anybody else see a problem with that?

If you’re ever tempted to adopt the same philosophy you need to keep this most indisputable and basic fact in mind. When you lose your customers your business ceases to exist.

Let me repeat that…when you lose your customers your business ceases to exist. 

It doesn’t matter if your business is new, old, or as this person says, “mature,” without customers you have no business. 

Companies that lose sight of the supremacy of the customer will eventually lose those customers. No business can afford the mindset of “win some lose some” when it comes to customers. Every lost customer must be understood to be a significant failure on the part of the business. Every effort must be made to understand why that customer left and what can be done to prevent it from happening with another customer . 

The focus these days seems to be on CX Hubs, and something called “Customer Experiences” and a ton of other buzzwords going around. All of them seem intent on providing more cost effective customer service. All of them also seem to ignore the absolute supremacy of the customer when it comes to even keeping the business open. 

I’ll close this with another rather simplistic statement regarding customers…but one that happens to be true. “Businesses that take care of their customers will always have customers who care to do business with them.”

Never never never lose sight of that fact and your business will be around a long long time. 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may just be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

Why I’m Different Than You

I’m not different than just most of you. I’m different than every single person reading this post. Even if every person on the planet read this post I’d still be different than every other person reading this post. 

Just different. Not better. Not worse. Just different. 

You’re different too. Different than every other person on earth. Not better. Not worse. Just different. 

When we learn to appreciate those differences magical things can happen. Sadly, it took me longer to learn that than I wish it had. But as they say, better late than never. 

I did a Sales and Leadership class a couple of years ago, literally days before the pandemic started, with a group of sales professionals from around Asia and Indonesia. If I recall correctly there were Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesians in the class. This group couldn’t have been more different from me if they were from another planet. 

I think, I hope, that I taught them a lot. But I know they taught me more than I taught them. I learned a lot about sales from them and I learned a lot more about leadership from them too. But there were two things in particular that I learned that still stand out. 

One was that the challenges they faced in selling were very much the same as anywhere else in the world. The buyer/seller relationship is incredibly important whatever culture you might be selling in. 

But the biggest thing I learned was that no matter how different people might be from me, those differences are nothing when compared with what we have in common. Yes, there are certainly cultural differences but those are differences based on where we happen to come from, they are not based on who we are. 

Most of the differences I have from other people are created from my “life lens.” I may have experienced everything that you have experienced but my upbringing, my environment, my family and friends will all shape my life lens. That’s how I view each experience. Unless you’re actually me, you couldn’t view every experience exactly as I have. 

The statement, “if I were you I’d feel exactly the same” is a very fair statement to make. If you had their life lens you would feel exactly as they do. But you have a difference lens based on your personal experiences than every other person on earth. You can have a very similar life lens, but not an identical one. 

Once you understand that, the differences between you and other people will matter a whole lot less. Once you understand that, you open yourself to learning about and seeing the world through the lens of other people. 

When you learn through the life lens of other people you begin to value those differences and the diversity that comes with them. You understand that even though there may be some significant differences we’re all vastly more similar than we are different. 

Once we understand all that we become less likely to judge other people and more likely, far more likely, to simply try to understand and appreciate them. 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may just be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

How Trust is Really Built

I’m not sure why but I’ve seen a ton of blog posts and various articles lately about building trust. Most of them are about particular words you either should or shouldn’t use if you want to build trust. 

Some of them talk about tone of voice or making eye contact when you want someone to know you’re being particularly truthful. I love that word combo “particularly truthful.”

Imagine someone writing about building trust and in the article seeming to indicate that sometimes you’re more truthful than others. When you want to convince someone you can be trusted then you should be “particularly truthful.” They don’t explain what you should be the rest of the time so I’m left to wonder about it. 

What surprises me about every single article and post I’ve read the last few weeks on building trust, and there have been many of them, is that not a single one of them talked about being trustworthy. The talk about using “trustable” words and phrases. A few even talked about behaving in a certain way to convince people you can be trusted. 

But not one said to build trust by actually being trustworthy. 

To me being trustworthy is saying exactly what you mean and doing exactly what you say. All the time. It’s about honoring your commitments, every commitment. All the time. 

When your words match your actions, even if not everyone agrees with them, you will be trusted. 

If you’re forced to use certain words for people to trust you then I’d have to say it’s possible you’re not trustworthy. If you have to behave in any other way than being your normal self then it’s very possible that people shouldn’t really trust you. 

If you want to be trusted then don’t say yes when you know your actions are going to show you meant no. Don’t commit to doing something today when you know darn well it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to do it today. 

Trust isn’t built on what we say, it’s built on what we do. There’s no need to read a bunch of articles on how to be trusted. All you need to do is be trustworthy. 

One other thing, if you’re wondering how you can tell if someone else can be trusted there is only one sure way to know. Trust them, they will quickly show you if your trust is deserved or not. 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may just be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help. 

Saying Thank You is Not a Weakness

Isn’t that a ridiculous title for a post on leadership? I mean why would anyone think that thanking someone could ever make you look weak?

Except for too many people in leadership positions, that is exactly what they think. I often encourage leaders to thank their people for a job well done. Most of them see the wisdom in committing to that basic human relations principle. Most, but not all. 

The response I get from a surprising number of people who occupy leadership positions is that their people get a paycheck, that’s enough thanks. I also hear that when you start thanking people for doing their job they begin to expect it. But perhaps worst of all is the “I’m not their mommy, they do their job and we pay them…that’s where it ends.” 

Even though I’ve written about this before and even though I’ve said it a thousand times, let me say it again. If you don’t possess the most basic ability to be nice to the people you’re supposed to be leading then whoever elevated you to a leadership position made a mistake. 

Sometimes even the best leaders get busy. So busy that they “forget” that basic principle of of saying thanks to their team members. It is important to note here that “forgetting” to show appreciation for your team causes the same lack of engagement issues as choosing not to appreciate them.

Being nice costs you nothing but it can mean so much when it comes to keeping your people engaged and motivation. Being nice is the fastest, easiest way to demonstrate that you see the people you lead as actual human beings. It shows you care about them as people and not just an “asset” that fills some role or does a job. 

It’s probably a good idea if we look for a second at the difference between being nice and being kind…yes, there is a difference. Being kind to someone means doing something for them. It likely has a cost to you associated with it. Most often that cost is in terms of time but it can also be financial. Helping someone with a project at work when there is no benefit to you is an example of being kind. Going out of your way to give someone a ride home is another example. 

Saying hello to someone, holding the door for them, and yes, saying thank you, are all examples of being nice. It’s that simple.

If you want to be an actual leader, rather than merely occupy a leadership position, then you must realize that truly leading comes with a lot of responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is earning the commitment of your people. If your people think you don’t care about them as human beings they cannot commit to you. 

Many times being nice, which includes saying thank you from time to time, is all it takes to show you care. If you can’t even do that then you can’t actually lead either.

On a different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

Do Your Best…Because You Deserve It

We’ve all likely heard lots about the great resignation or great reshuffle or whatever you want to call it. I hear one of the reasons is that people seem to be searching for something better. Something that will keep them engaged. Someplace where they will matter.

Organizations that do a poor job of keeping their people engaged risk losing them. Or worse, they risk having them stay while remaining disengaged. You can find tons of articles about what companies and organizations should do to keep their people engaged. I don’t disagree with any of them. 

But I have a different idea. It’s pretty old fashioned. Some would say very outdated. More still would say it’s completely unwoke. But I don’t care, even if I’m the last person who thinks this way. 

The idea is that people who accept a paycheck from a company should figure out for themselves how to stay engaged. 

They should realize that accepting that paycheck obligates them to keep themselves engaged. Perhaps they need to accept responsibility for giving their very best effort even on the days they don’t feel like it. 

The very best companies with outstanding leadership are very intentional about working with their people to help them stay engaged and motivated. But most companies aren’t the best and many lack even mediocre leadership. 

If you’re in one of the companies not blessed with outstanding leadership and you’re waiting on your boss or leader to keep you engaged then you’re gonna be waiting a real long time. 

If you’re waiting for your company, boss, or anyone besides yourself to make you happy and feel fulfilled then I have bad news for you…or maybe it’s good news… you must develop the attitude of “If it’s to be then it’s up to me.” 

You have within you the power to keep yourself engaged. You have the absolute ability to motivate yourself. It’s great when you get some help along the way but don’t count on it. Stop looking out for the “stuff” that will keep you motivated and engaged. Start looking within because that’s the only guaranteed source of motivation. 

There would be far less movement of people in the workforce if more people accepted responsibility for their own results. Blaming someone else because you’re a crappy employee or poor team member is a sure sign of galactic irresponsibility. 

It is your responsibility to always give your best effort. It’s your responsibility not only for the company paying you. The fact is YOU deserve the satisfaction that comes with knowing you did your best. No matter what anyone else thinks. 

If you find yourself in a situation where it simply requires more effort than you can give to keep yourself motivated then you need to understand that it’s your responsibility to separate yourself from that situation. As soon as possible. 

If you continuously find yourself in those situations no matter where you’re working then perhaps changing jobs isn’t the change that’s needed. If you can’t determine what needs to change I’d suggest you consider investing in a mirror and looking there. 

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

Leadership Visibility

Much has been written about the most important characteristics of an Authentic Leader. Some would say judgement, some would say integrity. Some would say its something else but after integrity and judgement it kinda depends on the circumstances. 

But one characteristic is seldom mentioned. That characteristic is being visible. If your people can’t see you then your people can’t follow you. 

As a leader you are the model for the culture of your organization. You are the face of the values your organization represents. You are the cheerleader in chief and the light of hope when circumstances look dark.

But you can’t be any of those things if you’re not seen…on a very regular basis. 

There are many ways to communicate with your people these days. You can write a company blog. You can publish a weekly video. You can do email blasts a few times a week. But none of those can come close to just being “out there” among the people you lead. Short hallway conversations with anyone and everyone in your organization makes everyone feel as if they belong. The higher up you are in the organization the more these brief conversations are valued by the people you lead.

And there’s the challenge. The higher you are in the organization the more likely you are to get bogged down with the day to day requirements of managing the organization. It may feel as if the last thing you have time for is a talk with Patty from the mail room or Jerry from the loading dock. You may not even have time to talk with all your senior leaders. 

But that’s a terrible mistake.

No matter how busy you may be managing, never forget you’re a leader first. The health and culture of your organization will be largely (or should I say bigly?) determined by the quality of the relationships you have with each and every member of your team. The higher you are in the organization the greater the impact your words will have on people. A quick question to Patty about how she is doing can turn a disengaged employee into an engaged one. An additional comment about how much you recognize and appreciate Patty’s efforts will help the engagement last. 

If you’re wondering about how to tell if you’re “out there” frequently enough here is the only measurement that counts. The measurement is your people’s opinion. If your people think you’re invisible then you are. If they never see you then you might as well not exist. You can tell yourself that you’re more than visible but you don’t get a vote. The perception of your people is all that matters.

Visibility is the characteristic that not all leaders possess, not even all Authentic Leaders, but all Authentic Servant Leaders do. What they understand is that leadership is about people, and they know that strong relationships matter to their people. 

They make building those relationships a priority and they know they can’t build them while sitting behind a desk.

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

Angry Coaching

One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to coach and motivate their people. Coaching and motivating do not always go hand in hand. Although they should.

Sometimes coaching shows up all alone. Most often that is when the coaching is angry coaching. Angry coaching is frequently the only kind of coaching limited leaders know how to do. 

These types of limited leaders coach almost exclusively for corrective action. When one of their people has done something they consider wrong. Coaching someone for corrective action can always be an emotion packed conversation because it involves telling someone they have done or said something they shouldn’t have. If they disagree then they likely become defensive and that’s when emotions come into play. 

Sometimes the limited leaders bring their emotions to the conversation too. That’s always a mistake. Particularly if they are upset, mad, or frustrated with the actions of the individual they are coaching. 

The most effective leaders know it’s best to remove as much emotion as possible from a corrective action conversation. So if one of your people has made a mistake and you’re upset with that mistake give yourself some time before you begin to coach.

Generally speaking it’s best to coach in real time. That means as soon as you see something wrong you should say something. But if your emotions are in the way then wait. Don’t wait days, only wait long enough to regain control of your emotions. Your goal should be a positive conversation about something that may otherwise seem negative. Never, yep, I know that’s a big word but I’ll say it again, NEVER wait for an annual review to coach and dump everything on your team member at once. That’s a sure fire way to create a disengaged person.

I’ve had people in leadership positions tell me that sometimes the only way to get their people’s attention is to yell at them. If you agree with that then you may be in a leadership position but you are not a leader. Yelling is not leading…unless you’re cheering the success of your team. 

One way to ensure that your coaching is making a difference is to balance your coaching conversations between coaching for corrective actions and coaching for positive reinforcement. Yep, when your people do something right is also a perfect time to coach. 

Authentic Leaders don’t only look for what may be wrong. They look for what’s right and they seldom miss an opportunity to call that out. Letting a team member know you’ve noticed their efforts and that you appreciate those efforts is a very good way to ensure those efforts continue. While coaching for corrective action is always done in private, coaching for positive reinforcement can be done as publicly as the person being coached is comfortable with. 

A couple of more thoughts on effective coaching. Never use your passion as an excuse for losing control of your emotions. You’ve likely heard that before you can lead anyone else you must lead yourself exceptionally well. Controlling your emotions is but one example of leading yourself exceptionally well. If you can’t do that then you can’t lead. 

Remember as well that often it’s things we whisper that are easiest for others to hear. The loudness of our voice does not carry the message, it’s the tone of our voice that matters most. 

Coaching, honest, open, and timely coaching is an everyday requirement of Authentic Leadership. No matter your title or your position, if you go a day without coaching then you’ve gone a day without leading. 

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.