Save Time, Close Sales with These Two Words

adult-background-business-computer-53508

As I pointed out in last week’s post, most salespeople fail to close sales because they focus on the wrong point when presenting their product or service to a prospect. The problem is focusing on your product, then trying to find Continue reading “Save Time, Close Sales with These Two Words”

Special Labor Day Bonus Post

Two topics that I focus on here at this blog are the importance of careful, deliberate thinking and the power of the human mind to lift anyone from ordinary to extraordinary.

I felt rather vindicated by this simple proof Continue reading “Special Labor Day Bonus Post”

The Salesperson’s Biggest Problem

Man with Problem

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time in sales meetings and trainings for selling new products. It seems that the most talked about points are product features and benefits, and how to overcome a prospect’s objections. The problem with that approach is that Continue reading “The Salesperson’s Biggest Problem”

Accomplishment and a Copperhead Snake

sneaky snake

Yesterday, I was on my riding lawn mower cutting grass. When I got near the mulch around a hickory tree, near an azalea bush, I saw it; a copperhead snake.

Copperheads are sneaky snakes. They camouflage very well and if you get too close, they bite and inject you with a poisonous venom. I don’t like that.

There we were, staring at each other… Continue reading “Accomplishment and a Copperhead Snake”

7 Essential Steps to Enhance Your Leadership Effectiveness

 

Zig Ziglar

Many years ago, I learned a neat trick from Zig Ziglar during his presentation.

Zig asked the audience what was important to them. He had them shout out their answers as he wrote them on an overhead projector. There were quite a few things on that list of common interests. Here are the top seven, as I remember them.

  1. Acceptance
  2. Respect
  3. Health
  4. Security
  5. Happiness
  6. Love
  7. Money

That list is pretty much a list of priorities as well as the major interests of the audience.

Since then, whenever I speak to individuals or groups, I either ask that question, as Zig did, or else I listen carefully in conversation and notice when people mention their interests.

Especially when people get to talking about their work, a number of those topics come up, and I make mental notes that later become blog posts. The answers are always very much the same, and generally in this order of precedence.

Why Are My People’s Interests Important?

You may be thinking “At my work, we just have a job to do. What’s the significance of what people want?” The answer is simply that it is valuable information to help you motivate and enable them to work closer their peak of potential.

As Benjamin Franklin so accurately said: “If you would persuade, appeal to interest, rather than logic.” Keep in mind that people’s interests are not necessarily logical, and logical viewpoints on significance vary widely.

7 Steps To Enhance Your Effectiveness

  1. Set the example. Your people see you as the personification of how things are done. I is in your own best interest to model the qualities that you want your followers to exhibit. To see a real example from my life, see this  post
  2. Show genuine personal interest in your people, without undue fraternization. Learn about your people by asking general questions about their families and hobbies. Remember what you learn and ask about those things from time to time. (e.g. “Robby, how’s your wife and baby doing?” Or “Amy, did you make that hole in one on Saturday?” A little personal interest will improve your style and elevate you in your followers’ eyes.
  3. Absolutely prohibit any belittling of anyone, by anyone on your team. Allowing anyone to make any one of your people the brunt of jokes, for example, may seem like harmless fun, but it is destructive to everyone. It stifles creativity and productivity. Warning: You owe it to everyone on the team to enforce clear, high standards of conduct. I use a two strike rule for this. I’ll counsel after the first infraction, and send the violator packing with the second. One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel.
  4. Always strengthen and encourage. Be a guide. Even for your problem people. Try to catch problem people doing something right and commend them. Your job as a leader is to build your people up to be able to do your job, so they can move onwards and upwards. As my friend, Dan Miller of 48 Days.com fame says: “A rising tide raises all ships.”
  5. Seek your people’s help in setting the goal and the plan. You do not have to act on all, or any of their suggestions, but seeking their ideas will make them feel like a valuable part of the team.
  6. Clearly explain the goal, the plan and the part each member plays in its accomplishment. When people know what’s going on, they can contribute to course changes, if something gets a little off.
  7. Don’t micromanage. Give your people freedom to be creative, within boundaries. For example, you can limit the amount of money they can spend without your approval, or implementation of an idea that violates or has any effect on customary policies.

Any leader can use these 7 steps to improve his or her leadership effectiveness, without relinquishing any authority to make final, expensive or policy altering decisions.

Conclusion

Using these 7 steps has been proven in real life situations the world over to increase morale, productivity and initiative in those who follow the leader.

Your ideas are important

Don’t take your knowledge that can enrich others to the grave with you. Please share your thoughts or answer one or more of these questions in the comments.

Do you find any of these 7 steps challenging? Have you used any or all of them in the past? What were your results?

Private Questions

If you have a question that is of a private nature, use the form below to contact me directly.

 

 

 

Confessions of a Technological Pygmy

 

Startup Stock Photo

Yesterday I did a live stream on Facebook titled Why People Don’t Follow Some Leaders. The replay is now available. The choreography is not great, but the content is extremely valuable.

In the video, I share some key points on how to fix problems with people who don’t follow with enthusiasm, but just do enough to get by. I believe you will find it helpful to streamline the results of your leadership efforts, or if you already have my subject matter down pat, you will be encouraged that you are on a track that has been proven over many years to be effective and successful.

If you find the video helpful, please don’t forget to like my FB page and share the video with your friends. You are also welcome to share your ideas and comments here.

Have You Put the Cart Before the Horse?

Since horses are built to pull carts, not push them, it makes no sense to put the cart before the horse. Of course, this illustration is so obvious that not many make that mistake, in this physical scenario. Besides the horse may not approve.

Balking Horse

In the world of modern life, however, it is not so obvious, and more people than you would believe do put their “carts before their horses” That is a critical mistake. Here is what I mean.

Let’s be honest. People start businesses to make money. That’s a good and necessary element of the plan, but if that is THE plan, the main focus of it, success is likely to be limited and problematic. There are many, very many frustrated internet entrepreneurs who are working themselves to a frazzle while making little progress simply because of their flawed approach.

Rather than trying to outright convince people that you and your product or service is worth their time and money, show them. Contribute, rather than convince. Through contribution, you will convince them.

This simple change of focus makes good sense because it represents the concept that Contribution Creates Compensation. Let’s think about that for a moment. When the weather is cold and you want a fire in the fireplace, do you tell the fireplace to give you heat, while promising to feed it wood after the fire is burning? Of course not. Do you expect your car to take you places on the promise that you’ll feed it some gasoline after you get there? Of course not. In both these simple examples, you know that you must provide the fuel in order to get the results you want.

It’s the same in dealing with people. They will not reward you with profits until after you have delivered some value to them. Therefore Contribution Creates Compensation.

The Proof is in the Pudding

We need to take a closer look at contribution and compensation. For our purposes today, contribution is value that you freely give to your audience.   One of the most valuable contributions you can give to your audience is information. Information is knowledge or expertise you already have. It is valuable because it gives your audience knowledge that they don’t already have. They can then turn that knowledge into understanding and apply it as wisdom.

The information you offer can be in many forms, such as a report, an ebook, or a free consultation with you. This usually starts with a blog or podcast, or on social media, for instance.

Now, compensation is not always money, but it is also something of value. In the beginning, compensation is usually a potential customer’s email address, as in when they subscribe to your blog, or a follow you on social media, or it may be merely giving your information a fair hearing. These are the beginning steps that must be taken before significant monetary compensation follows, as it naturally will, from those who find value in your contribution and who can pay for it.

When a wise person wants heat from the fireplace on a cold winter day, he or she knows that an investment is required. That wise person may be cold and shivering and desperate for heat, but they know they can’t just demand heat, or even put a large log in the cold fireplace. They MUST follow the necessary steps of placing something that will burn quickly and easily in first (tinder); something like wadded up newspaper. They know that the tinder won’t burn long enough or hot enough to catch the big log on fire, so they add kindling, small twigs and sticks starting with very small ones just on top of the paper, while gradually increasing the size and quantity of the kindling. After the proper preparation, they can light the fire and when the kindling is burning hot and fast, they can keep increasing the size of the logs in the fire until they get that big one burning that will give heat for a long time.

In our case of internet business, leading people to follow you, to work with you and to buy from you, you must nurture them, just as you would nurture that fire. Your initial presentation to your audience is your tinder, which is then followed by a small but valuable information product that you offer in return for their email address (permission to email them your offers). That small but valuable offer is the kindling that gets their fire burning, then you can offer them products of gradually increasing value and price, until you have a good, mutually rewarding relationship with them. Until they are your loyal and dedicated customer.

This does take time, but it is necessary, if you are to have enduring success. Enduring success will be built upon your relationship with the people you serve. If you are just peddling something for quick profit, you may find some quick profit, but it won’t endure and that will create a poor reputation for you that may take a long, long time to overcome.

If starting a blog or other platform seems like a daunting task, remember all you have to do is to identify the necessary steps, then take one or two of those steps every day, and pretty soon you’ll have a platform from which to launch your contribution, which, if valuable and needed, will produce compensation. (For a tutorial on starting a blog, see the link to Michael Hyatt’s site below).

Whoever you are, you have some knowledge, skill or information that is valuable to others. You are just as good, valuable and worthy as any of us, and with a little study and practice (trial and error) you can do anything that any of us have done.

Go on, get started and light that fire!

A very popular blog on the internet is Michael Hyatt’s blog. Michael’s specialty is building a platform. He contributes tutorials on how to build a blog as well as shares most valuable and interesting content. I suggest you check him out. (I have no business connection with Michael). He’s just doing a bang up good job and is a great teacher. I follow him and recommend him.

This blog is for you, so please share your questions or comments with me below, or use the contact form for inquiries of a private nature….and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog in the lower righthand sidebar to be notified when new posts are available.

Get started, build that fire and light it…and keep your horse in front of the cart.

 

Workplace Safety May Not Be What You Think

computer on desk w booksWhile workplace safety involves”Safety First” signs, rules (that are frequently broken) requiring the use of safety equipment and cleanliness, there is another side of the safety issue.

A safe work environment includes mental and emotional safety, as well as physical safety.

A long time ago, I heard the famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar ask the audience of several thousand people what characteristics they wanted in an employee, and if they were an employee, what characteristics they would look for in a boss. Zig asked the audience to shout out their answers, and as they did, he wrote those answers on the overhead projector. Their answers may surprise you. Here are the qualities the random people in the audience said they wanted in others:

  • Integrity
  • Dependability
  • Honesty
  • Enthusiasm
  • Motivated
  • Compassionate
  • Humility
  • Sincerity
  • Competence
  • Creativity
  • Open mindedness
  • Loyalty
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Self Directed
  • Goal Setter
  • Admirable
  • Positive Self Image
  • Loves people
  • Prompt
  • Communicator
  • Has a calling
  • Long suffering

Wow! That’s quite a list, and I wasn’t able to write fast enough to get them all down. It is enlightening that the answers are always very similar with every group.

Here’s what I’d like you to do; study that list and imagine a person who meets most of the listed attributes, then answer this: How many of those qualities can you honestly say you demonstrate daily, or almost daily?

Consider this: those are the qualities that a group of random individuals said they want in a boss or employee. That’s important, so let’s look at these people for a moment and ask why they want these qualities. After all, they could have said they wanted people who are self-centered, belligerent, callous, careless, and many other negative things. Let’s examine why they want so many “positive” qualities in their associates.

If you would count yourself among the group who selected the qualities on Zig’s list, think why you appreciate those qualities in others. You probably said something like “that type of person makes life easier, or more enjoyable.” If that was your answer, you hit the nail on the head!

Why People Want These Things

People want the kind of characteristics in Zig’s list because, as modern science has shown, their brains want to keep them safe and in familiar surroundings. Sticking with a known situation is intuitively regarded as keeping safe. That is an emotional response that relieves the person of the need for taking a perceived dangerous step, such as searching for a new job, or ending an abusive relationship.

Almost all the qualities on Zig’s list are qualities of attitude, not skill. As one employer said, “If I can have an applicant who has those attitudes, I can teach him the skill.”

Most employees will tell you that if they had a boss with those attitudes, they would be able to produce more and better.

Both the employer and the employees are exactly right because those attitudes will greatly contribute to, if not produce a safe working environment.

A safe working environment is devoid of fear of embarrassment, abusive talk, physical abuse, pettiness, gossip, etc. When workers are subjected to an environment that contains those elements, even if they are not directed towards an individual, they naturally fear that “they may be next.” A mean or ignorant leader may respond that in fact, they may be, unless they produce.

A wise leader, on the other hand, understands that people who are nurtured by an environment of respect, honesty, integrity and most of the other things on Zig’s list will produce better, come forward with suggestions, respond with respect and courtesy which comes together to make their job, and yours, better in every way.

The reason for this is due to the involuntary internal adrenal response that occurs in people when they are fearful, therefore they are on “alert” for perceived danger, compared to them being comfortable and relaxed.

When a person perceives danger of say, embarrassment, their body releases cortisol into the bloodstream and their priority changes from the job at hand to self protection against a perceived threat. This is known as the fight or flight syndrome. Doesn’t it make sense that a person whose primary goal is to protect themselves will be less productive than one who is comfortable and feels free to create? And that a person who feels safe will also feel free to create and produce?

On the flip side, when a person feels safe and secure, his or her body will produce the neurological transmitting hormones, dopamine and endorphins, that cause him or her to be contented, happy and maybe even a little euphoric. That is a condition that wise leaders will encourage because it leads to better creativity and production.

The culture, you, as a leader, create and the attitude you express towards your people is all that is needed to create a safe work environment. The chemicals at work in your workers’ bodies will produce the expected result, for better or worse. Personnel problems are usually symptoms of leadership problems. If you remove the symptom, you still have the root problem. That’s a leadership treadmill. These facts hold true in the workplace, and even more so in the home, among your family.

The “icing on this cake” is that your expressions towards your people have an increased effect on you. When you help your workers feel good, you will feel more good than they do. How I wish I had known and applied this when I was in my twenties!

If you are an inexperienced or sloppy leader, who resorts to yelling, embarrassing your people or use other negative tactics to gain compliance, implementing the change in your attitude that I am suggesting will probably not get instant results. Your people will be suspicious of your changed attitude. You will get results over time, and the time it takes depends upon how long it takes for your workers to believe you have truly changed. But change you must, for your benefit, and most important, for the benefit of your followers, upon whom you depend to get the job done.

If you want to see faster improvement and want to have your people recognize you as a good or great leader, you can get together with them and tell them that you have been studying leadership and realize that your skills have been lacking and that you are working hard to change the way you do things, for their benefit. Your honesty and forthrightness will impress them and give them hope. Their “learning curve” for developing confidence in you and their freedom from real or imagined fear will come about much more quickly.

Leadership is influence. Most people are comfortable being influenced, but leaders step out of the crowd and begin to influence the crowd.

For more information on the effects of a leader’s methods of relating to people, see my recent post,  Some Helpful Leadership Science.

An ancient Chinese proverb says “A gentle wind calms a stormy sea.” Let me add that a calm wind also keeps a sea from becoming stormy.

What experiences have you had with these approaches to leadership? Other readers may be helped by your comment below. Let’s not let the good you can do for others die with you. Step up, speak up and let your valuable insights benefit us all. Thank you.

If you have a question or comment that you would rather keep private, please use the contact form below to contact me.

 

 

Setting the Example: The Price and the Payoff

In my last post, What is the Basis of All LeadershipI mentioned that there was a price we instructors at the Montana Military Academy had to pay in order to set the example we wanted our students to follow. There was also a big payoff – a reward. The question becomes “Is the payoff more valuable than the price?” In other words, is the effort of setting the example a good investment?

Woman giving guidance

The Price:

What did it cost us instructors to set an example that convinced a group of disheveled, unruly soldiers to change their ways and conform to the rules?

It took a lot of effort and two weeks time. We instructors set the example through our impeccable appearances, our speech (which revealed our attitudes), by demonstrating our professional knowledge of the subjects we taught, and last, but far from least, we demonstrated our understanding of and care for the underperforming soldiers under our care. How did we do it?

We worked on our personal time, after working hours, to starch and iron our uniforms, spit polish our boots, which was not required, study the lessons we were scheduled to teach the next day, and we discussed ideas for handling students who were unusually challenging. We did this in private in the instructors’ quarters. The students didn’t see the effort we put in, but they saw the results. They understood by the results of our appearance and professional expertise that we did much more than was required.

While this sounds like drudgery, it was really a joyful time for us instructors. It was a time of camaraderie which enabled us to become a close knit group, both professionally and personally. At times we had to cut our sleeping time to 3-5 hours. These were times of rewarding personal sacrifice for all of us.

Although I am relating this information by way of a military story, remember that civilian leadership is exactly the same. The same principles apply to leadership in business, family, church and clubs or informal groups. People will instinctively follow the person who sets the example of knowing what needs to be done, has a solid plan for doing it and who communicates via attitude and body language that he or she can encourage and lead the group to success in whatever endeavor is being considered.

Communication of your skills via attitude, demonstrated aptitude and confidence will inspire people to want to follow you. Words are cheap and should be used sparingly.

The Payoff:

Although, through each pay period, we instructors received the same pay as we would have for just doing an average job in another field, we were rewarded with compensation much more valuable than money.

Every new day during the course, when we came together with our students, we were rewarded  with a boost to our individual confidence, as we saw the progress our students were making. You see, we knew what we were doing because we had studied and had been taught by more accomplished leaders than ourselves.

We knew when our student’s appearance improved that it was because of the example we set. This increased our confidence motivated us to continue the boring task of spit shining our combat boots in the evenings because we wanted the satisfaction of seeing our students perform even better the next day.

Our evenings of studying and discussing the subjects we taught (subjects we already understood) increased our confidence in our ability to teach. The satisfaction from the improvement our students experienced and demonstrated in the classroom and during field training was indescribable!

The most valuable part of the payoff for us was when the students started holding their heads high, signifying their increased confidence that they gained through the knowledge and discipline we taught them.

To have made a life changing, career changing improvement in their lives was a privilege that few people ever experience.

For us instructors, it was a very deep emotional experience that ended with tears welling in our eyes, after the students’ graduation and we had to say “good-bye” to them, as they scattered across the state to return to their home units, to be strong leaders. These soldiers had become our team, albeit only for a short time. It was like a family separation.

The payoff continued for years. At various events, such as our two week summer training with our units, we would occasionally meet one or two of our former students. They would be using the skills we taught them with the confidence we inspired in them. They would seek us out to visit with us and thank us again. Often their rank would indicate that they had been promoted to a higher pay grade.

A lesser payoff for all the effort and heart we put into our jobs came when we received our evaluation reports, which became a permanent part of our service records. We were rewarded with kind words from our superiors, which are strongly considered for a soldier’s career advancement (increased responsibility) and promotion.

Since I haven’t clearly stated this fact, please be aware that our ability to be accurate in the effort we put in to transforming our students was also partly the result of self evaluation and mutual critique. Critique is constructive criticism. In order to make yourself better, you must understand and correct your deficiencies. We all have them.

Don’t let your special knowledge, ability and your unique method of presentation go to waste. Share it with the rest of us. Yes, I am an instructor, but I also learn from my students.

You have abilities that are unique to you, and valuable to the world, so please make your contribution, or ask your question in the comments. If you have a matter of private concern that I can help you with, send it to me via the contact form below. I am here to serve you; to help you become a better leader.

You have greatness in you. Don’t deprive the world of your special abilities.