Since 2013 I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a wonderful organization, Bizcatalyst 360 led by Dennis Pitocco, where I am also a Featured Contributor and member of their “Thought Leadership” Panel. I get to interact and share ideas with a vast array of top leaders in their chosen field. There is no price that can be put on opportunities like these.
Recently, Dennis asked the group to contribute our thoughts by answering 10 questions on leadership and how our leadership skills and mindset were formed. Below are my answers that I am happy to share with you.
How Do You Become a Better Leader?
1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?
An old respected boss always told me “make it the best you can at all times”. Seems simple enough but too few follow this advice. Customers will notice and appreciate your efforts to provide the best products and services.
2. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of an organization?
We must understand that: Each of us possesses skills that, if allowed to be used, will benefit all. The difficult part is recognizing the specific methods that work best when motivating others.
3. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility?
I train my employees to “put yourself in the customer’s shoes”. If we wouldn’t be happy with the product or service we provide, how can we expect others to be happy with it? We are aware of our shortcomings and still “sell our product”. But, if the customer knew about it, would they be happy? (more…)
Every business has one or more employees that seem to take a back seat to the day-to-day machinations of business. Dutifully they perform as intended and do their best but are not looked at in times of need or expected to do much more. They are “the workers”.
For several years after he graduated from high school, George has been trying to find a full-time job. He attended college shortly but that didn’t seem the correct fit for him; he was more into “hands on” things. Of course his mom has known that ever since he was small; he has always been rather independent and stubborn.
In his younger years he joined the local Boy Scout troop. The troop’s elders saw glimmers of leadership emerging – but that’s what the Scouts do – teach leadership and values. He rose to the rank of Life Scout, but didn’t feel the urge to go for Eagle. Another opportunity lost? Maybe…
George now works full time as a valet at a local branch of a major auto dealership. What he likes most about this job is the opportunity for advancement. Needless to say, his family is proud of his efforts. His first three months of work has taught him diligence and responsibility, especially when called on to pick up the slack for a few of his coworkers.
One Saturday, he was the (more…)
Aren’t you tired of hearing customers complain? Tired of low productivity and high payroll costs? Tired of watching your service scores fall month after month? What are you doing about it? Are you a change agent or the king of status quo?
A successful business is dependent upon the unwavering ability to identify challenges, evaluate a new course of action and put into effect the processes and procedures to make it happen. You must be willing to change as needed…until it works!
Sadly, too few are willing to put in the effort to do this.
We sit through many unproductive meetings discussing the issues at hand but never come out with tangible solutions and an action plan to improve. Why is this?
What role do you play in your organization?
“Oh, things will never change”. “I doubt he (the boss) will want to do it”. “We’ve always done it this way”. “But we tried that already”. “It’s not in the budget”.
Do these statements sound familiar? (more…)
The schoolyard created natural leaders. They were the ones that chose the teams. They were the first ones at bat, their friends sided with their opinions and they led the way with their rebellious streak. You can spot them a mile away.
In business it’s not always that easy to find a leader.
Sure, we always hear about Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, et al. We easily recognize these titans of business and how their leadership has guided their companies to prosperity.
But what about the great leader right under your nose?
To fill that vacant leadership/management position we search through resume after resume for the perfect applicant. We try hard to entice the high performers from our competition. We contact headhunters and willingly spend top dollar to find the best available candidate.
Then, when that newly hired superstar disappoints, we wonder why…
“He was the best candidate that we interviewed by far! I wonder what went wrong”. “It turns out he really isn’t a good fit for our culture”. “He’s taking too long to adapt to our ways of doing things, I don’t think he’s going to work out”.
The boss is never wrong. His/her decisions are right and for all the obvious reasons; he knows better, he has the experience and he was put in charge because he’s the best qualified person the company has. Come on now, you know that’s B.S.!
More great employees were “forced” to quit because of the failure of leadership than for any other reason.
What I mean by “forced to quit” is that they were put in a position where their efforts were in vain. Their belief was that quitting is better than staying at a job/company where they have no future. At least not if they wish to be an integral part of the business.
Sure, if they wanted to stay in their entry level position where little is expected of them, they may ultimately retire from the firm. But since they have ambition and strive to be better, they joined the ranks of management. They hope and expect their service and knowledge will help grow the company.
Boy, were they wrong. (more…)
A touch of independence mixed with patience, possessing a definite superiority complex and territorial. These are some characteristics associated with the common house cat. But what if we in the customer service industry held these same traits dear to our heart?
My cat is not responsible for anyone other than herself. She wakes when she wants, at least not until she hears me rustle in the kitchen, and seems to not have a care in the world. But we have employees that answer to us. They look to us for direction and we must coach and council those that fail to abide by established norms.
Once we are independent of others our team will fail because of lack of leadership and poor cooperation with fellow coworkers.
We can’t sit in our big comfy chair so sovereign in our beliefs that we hold no expectation to assist others.
Cats aren’t team players.
Another cat trait is acting as if (more…)
Once again we identify the reasons for failure, reasons why your employees feel isolated and the reasons why you’re not a good leader. Maybe YOU’RE the weak link in the company’s chain. I hope not. Here’s Part 2.
18. Fail to recognize employee milestones
- Do you even know the birthdays of your employees, or their work anniversary?
19. Brag about your accomplishments
- Your employees don’t care about your past accomplishments or plaques on your walls. Help them get their own awards and recognition
20. Belittle the accomplishments of others
21. Push your agenda above others
- Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean that your pet projects should come first
22. Fail to follow up or delay action on employee concerns
- Are you always too busy to talk to your employees? Do they “bother” you with their questions? Maybe the problem is you instead of them
You think you’re a good leader. You have the position, the title and the power. You’re the boss. But your employees don’t work hard for you, they talk behind your back and morale is poor. You don’t understand why.
Well, here’s why.
1. Manage from your office
- You can’t tell how your business is running by just looking at reports while sitting at your desk. Get out of the office once and a while
2. Resist change
- Without trying something new, how will you ever get better?
3. Delegate more responsibilities then you take on yourself
- They do more than others while still assisting those in need
4. Manage by intimidation or threat
5. Take credit for others’ work
- Great leaders celebrate the good work of others, and not take credit for it
We hire those we expect to help us get better. We want them to be the front line of our business. We put our trust in their efforts to do what is “right” for our customers. But then we fail them…
The problems start right at the “orientation phase”. Who takes the new employee and immerses them in the “culture of the business”? Oh, this doesn’t happen at your company? And you wonder why business is bad.
You don’t support them because you have meetings to go to. You keep the “bad” ones far too long with little accountability. You don’t provide the tools needed for them to do their job. And you wonder why business is bad.
You allow employees to come in late or call out with impunity. You stopped the departmental or customer service training because you didn’t think it mattered. You no longer worry about employee standards of appearance. And you wonder why business is bad.
You cut staff and put management in their roles, but (more…)
Did you ask your employees any of the questions in Part 1? Did you find out if they like working for you? If they are happy at their job or if they’re thinking of leaving? You didn’t? HA, I knew you were afraid…
You must have the perfect department then, the perfect employees and have nothing to gain by this exercise, so don’t bother with Part 2 – stop reading now. Go back to your cubicle and read the paper. Check on your budget, read your emails, do anything but improve.
But, if your honest and, like me, finally realize that many times we wear the rose-colored glasses far too long, it’s time to make a change.
We must realize that many times we forget to put our employees first so that they may take care of our customers as intended.
If you really have guts, ask them, ask them all.
Here’s the next 5 questions… (more…)