RobertSchultek

About Bob Schultek

Bob has more than 30 years of service as a senior sales and business development executive, CEO and business owner. His expertise includes customer-partnered business development, strategic planning, sales management, customer service, operational alignment, lean process analysis and improvement, quality assurance, and performance management. He has worked in the energy, medical device, bioscience & pharmaceutical, discrete and process manufacturing, packaging and distribution, communications and information technology, and business-to-business service industries.

Productive Apologies

Customer relationships are valuable, fragile, and not to be taken for granted. It takes time to build trust with a customer; destroying it can happen in just a few incompetent minutes. 

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Relationships are intimate. People, not organizations, create them – by listening with empathy to one another, and then connecting to resolve a problem or achieve an aspiration. When something goes wrong, these human connections make the difference – it’s when they’re needed most. But too few organizations have trained, empowered or rewarded their employees to invest the time and emotional effort necessary to leverage them. 

A business naturally worries about being held responsible when things go badly, but when this happens, it’s already too late for such concerns. You’re already being held responsible. The question is what to do about it. Avoiding the problem, or delaying a response, only aggravates an already negative situation. 

The best option is to accept responsibility and contribute to the relationship by apologizing -not to make those who are harmed disappear, but to leverage your human connection with the customer. Your relationship can be strengthened by directly and promptly acknowledging your customer’s concerns and expressing regret for how your failure may have hurt your personal relationship; and then by acting to resolve or improve the situation, i.e. collaborating to refine the defective system that caused the problem. Your apology builds a bridge that enables you and your customer to move forward together. 

An effective apology includes:

Acknowledging to […]

By |August 14th, 2019|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Discovery Defeats Commoditization

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

The market cultivates commoditization – easy access to information, simplistic assessments meant to hastily define you, and alternatives that prioritize price over value. All is done with minimal dialogue, to hasten the transaction, saving time and money for the supplier, and perhaps for you too. If your objective is to be perceived as a commodity supplier, then this process is effective for you. 

But if your strategy is to be distinctive, then you must find an efficient means to discover what a customer values, and then propose solutions that will deliver the required benefits. 

A discovery process reveals how your knowledge and expertise, delivered through your product or service, creates value for the customer. It uncovers a customer’s unstated needs, along with their stated ones, and resolves why these are important. Asking the right questions, in the right order, clarifies the customer’s current circumstances, their aspirations in addition to needs, and the barriers to be overcome so goals can be achieved. The resulting dialogue heightens the customer’s sense that prompt action is necessary, while providing insight into their decision-making process. 

Discovery motivates the customer to do most of the talking, providing you with an opportunity to demonstrate empathy, competency and a commitment to […]

Leveraging “Liminal Space”

Leaders are expected to improve results by driving productive change…to improve processes, to move faster, to increase agility, to make things better. 

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

But before change can occur, a decision to change is necessary. No one can be compelled to change…they must be influenced or inspired to invest time and energy in transformation. But imagine if leaders could pro-actively expedite this decision to help their teams discover elevated capabilities and transform the way their work is done. 

Once a person decides to pursue a change, they cross a threshold, leaving behind ‘what was’ while seeking to discover ‘what can be.’ This time and space where something is left so as to pursue what’s next, is called “liminal space”… and experiencing it is essential for a change transformation to occur. The word “liminal” is derived from the Latin root, limen, meaning “threshold.” So liminal space is the “crossing over” space where all transformation takes place. 

Throughout our lives, we encounter many liminal space moments that disrupt our routine and provide opportunities for us to reconsider our choices, our priorities and our way forward. These moments command our attention, making us feel as though time is standing still. They happen frequently at big change events like weddings or funerals, or may result […]

By |July 31st, 2019|Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Doing Work That Matters

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Doing work that matters is about being vigilant for opportunities to make a difference…for your customers, your associates or your organization. Making something better for one of these groups often creates value for the others. 

Doing work that matters is about leading by example… taking ownership of an issue, without authority, in order to make it better. Acting to resolve a problem, rather than complaining about it, demonstrates commitment, generosity and shared accountability that encourages others to contribute. 

Doing work that matters doesn’t have to involve a big issue; start with a lesser concern. Find a small corner where you can make a difference and get to work making it better. 

Doing work that matters improves results and strengthens culture to sustain high performance. 

How do you encourage and support “making a difference” with your team?

How do you help identify opportunities where they can take action?

By |July 24th, 2019|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Improving Innovation Success

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Significant time, energy and money are invested in the pursuit of innovation so organizations strive to improve their success rate. Optimizing the efficiency of their innovation process begins with their expectations about the outcome. 

Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the renowned quality and management expert, observed that every process is perfectly designed to deliver the results it gets. 

If an organization expects its pursuit of innovation to be imperfect and unpredictable, then its innovation process will be a hit or miss proposition. Relying on assumptions about customer needs rather than on solicited facts, on what competitors are doing, or perhaps on a bit of “blue ocean” providence, will produce predictable results – mediocrity and disappointment. 

Higher innovation success rates are produced by compiling comprehensive market intelligence, understanding the boundaries of an organization’s core competencies, specifying realistic, short as possible time-to-market objectives, and committing to an innovation strategy grounded in these elements. 

Want to launch an innovation quickly, with reduced risk and a higher probability of success? Resolve a challenge posed by a profitable, key customer that helps them realize an aspiration – orders will be soon be forthcoming. Then push the limits of your innovation to consider how future circumstances might evolve to challenge it. How could your innovation be […]

By |July 17th, 2019|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Two Paths for Accountability

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

The recent celebration of our nation’s birthday prompts reflection about our distinctive idea of individual freedom, and our persistent pursuit of the aspirational vision and values so perfectly expressed in our founding documents. During our journey, we’ve celebrated achievements and suffered failures, but we persevere, continuing to experiment, to learn, to evolve and to improve as we strive to fulfill the promises that sustain our unprecedented liberty. 

Being a free people, we have the option of choosing, but then must be accountable for the consequences of our actions, be they good or bad. History teaches that our choices thus far have been more worthy than not, so we’ve endured as a land of opportunity, ever moving towards the vision first expressed by our founders. 

Embedded in the story of our nation’s journey are lessons for business sustainability. Every day business leaders make choices that are expected to improve results and create value. Their success in doing so often rests in how they manage accountability. 

Some perceive accountability in a punitive way. Failure to achieve a goal, or challenging the status quo, may indicate a lack of competency or respect for authority. Chronic failure may develop if these issues are not addressed, negatively impacting the leader as well as the individual. To motivate behavioral change, these leaders […]

By |July 11th, 2019|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Ways to Help Leaders Coach

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Leaders who invest time to coach their team strengthen the company’s culture, elevate performance and improve results. But in our dynamic, highly competitive economy, it can be challenging to carve out time for the deliberate, sometimes tedious, work of mentoring those we ask to follow our lead. And the process itself can become complicated and prolonged, raising concern about failing. Yet, for leaders, coaching is a crucial priority, and an essential driver of improved performance. Here are 3 suggestions to make the coaching process less complex and more efficient for leaders: 

When coaching performance.Most coaching focuses on a performance issue, to help resolve a specific challenge. The dialogue around this issue is usually well-defined and the objective is clear – to guide an employee to a resolution rather than specifying one. Guiding may take a bit longer as the person works through alternatives with you, but ultimately, she or he learns the process for resolving a problem so that accountability is increased and dependence on you is reduced as future challenges arise. When coaching for development.The more complex coaching challenge is guiding an employee’s development, which turns the focus from an issue to the person dealing with it. This […]

By |June 27th, 2019|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Factors For Leaders Driving Change

Three factors enable leaders to drive change: 

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

The leader is perceived as genuine and credible, consistently demonstrating conviction and modelling values-based behaviors, while being positive, transparent and open to feedback. People trust that their leader has their back – that he or she understands what motivates and concerns them, and keeps this in mind when setting high, but realistic, expectations of them. People feel respected and appreciated for their contributions, driven by the leader’s confidence in them and gratitude for their commitment.

Which of these 3 factors require more of your attention?How else do you inspire people to invest discretionary effort in a change initiative?

By |June 18th, 2019|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Promise Makers and Keepers

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

For customers, it’s your sales person who creates the first impression of your business. If that person listens more than talks, probes to discover why resolving a need is important, and proposes multiple viable solutions that address the customer’s aspirations as well as their stated need, then it is highly likely that the customer will want to do business with your company. 

The effective sales person appreciates that she or he will continue to be the primary face of your business for that customer, and recognizes that a trust relationship can only take root once your proposed promise is realized. To ensure this result, the sales person takes ownership of the relationship by clearly communicating the customer’s needs, expectations, challenges and related goals to your operational personnel, and by collaborating with them to ensure that your promised value is delivered. 

Taking ownership implies a deeper commitment to the customer, an accountability that far exceeds just booking the order. Its premise is that the sales person’s responsibility is not fulfilled until the promise made to the customer is. It acknowledges that having made the promise, preserving the customer relationship depends on sharing ownership of it with those in your company who deliver the promised value, the promise keepers. 

Measuring sales performance by only […]

By |June 12th, 2019|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Make Things Better

The objective of change is to improve something – a product, service, process, etc. – so that value is created for our customers, our employees, our business, or hopefully, all of these. 

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

The positive benefits of changing for the better are evident around us. Our products and services, our food, our environment, our communication tools, our number of options and many other things have improved because someone decided to make them better. Our survival in a competitive world demands that improvements continue, compelling us to make things better. 

But making something better can be stressful; here are three reasons why:

Better involves change, which can generate fear. Overcoming fear requires optimism to consider what is possible and confidence to act. Better also implies that the current state is imperfect, which may cause some to object. Challenging the status quo disrupts precedent, altering something that they feel is currently working well. Making implies that someone needs to act to make something better, and it might be you. In fact, if you don’t choose to pursue improvement, then you’re part of the status quo, which can be problem.

Most people seek to make a difference, to do work that matters, to make things better. This takes courage and hard work, […]

By |June 5th, 2019|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments