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.

Regaining Control

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Much has changed in just the past ten days. And we’re reminded, as we were after 9-11, that despite all our efforts to exercise control over our lives, unplanned circumstances can quickly disrupt our routine and sense of control. 

We’re in for a rough ride for a short while ahead, but we will adapt, as we always have, and find a way forward. This chaos will end, but another shock awaits in the future, so use this time to prepare for it. 

The challenge is to wisely invest our valuable time and energy on more than a short-term adaptation. When things turn uncertain, it’s the best time to proactively explore sustainable improvements that strengthen your business, and provide a means to regain some measure of control. 

Carve out time with your team to assess how your operations are being impacted and consider what could be done differently, done better. Evaluate processes and initiate projects to improve them. 

Think about your served markets and stay close to your customers. How are they being impacted? How can you relieve your customers’ stress? What innovation might become apparent that could mitigate the negative consequences they may be experiencing? 

While continuing to react to the evolving business circumstances, regain control by investing time to […]

By |March 19th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Less Data…More Story

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Leaders and change are inseparable. Whether reacting to a threatening external challenge or proactively disrupting the status quo to improve performance, leaders realize that people do not readily embrace change; initially, there will be uncertainty, disruption, fear and discomfort among those you lead when change is on the table. 

But leaders also recognize these emotions as necessary ingredients in a change initiative. When paired with a clear, thorough understanding of projected benefits, they can be leveraged to focus energy, to encourage perseverance, and to achieve the commitment and shared ownership required for change to be successfully implemented. 

Cultivating an appreciation of benefits within your team to motivate change is best accomplished by using a story. If all you share is data when introducing the initiative, it will just sound like noise; there’s no emotion in it. People have a very limited capacity to absorb data without a supporting narrative. But once you wrap your ideas, features, benefits and effort into a story, it generates empathy and becomes information that enables action. 

The most effective stories describe triumphs over trouble, departures from the past, doing what has never been done, or going where no one has ever been. Every story is about challenge and change. 

Using stories to convert data into […]

By |March 11th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Doing

Bob SchultekAuthor of The Gauntlet

Leadership is often the difference between success and failure. 

The most productive leaders appreciate that their prime directive is to improve results, requiring that they nurture a team culture which challenges the status quo, and shares the commitment and accountability for embracing change. 

Recognizing their responsibility to develop those they lead, and knowing from experience that the most beneficial learning is accomplished by doing, these leaders promote change initiatives as learning experiences that open opportunities. 

They counsel that natural talents can only take a person so far, and encourage the expansion of knowledge and the strengthening of skills through these initiatives, clarifying that increasing knowledge requires study, while enhancing skills involves practice. 

They carve out time for teams to hone skills like observation, experimentation and resolving differences while pursuing innovation and improvement, and sustaining focus on their company’s purpose and goals. 

The results are: productive change that makes a difference for customers, teammates and the organization; team members who are more self-reliant and whose contributions are more visible; and, a culture that delivers results and values its people. 

How engaged are you in “doing” with your team?

What improvement opportunities exist for you and your team to pursue?

By |March 5th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Accelerating Team Commitment

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

To build a culture of shared accountability, a team must be capable of constructively debating conflicting perspectives about an issue that requires action. There can be no team commitment to a decision without resolving these differences. Mastering this conflict management process is a vital leadership skill. 

Productive conflict dialogue identifies gaps in team members’ positions on the target topic based on their individual experiences and expectations. The skillful use of questions and related discussion are used to explore the reasons for these gaps, and to determine points of agreement.  

The objective is to resolve the gaps and gain a deeper understanding of the issue at hand so that a team commitment can be secured which enables the necessary action. The challenge for a leader facilitating this dialogue is to refrain from prematurely inserting his or her perspective into the conversation to expedite a resolution. Achieving the objective, while strengthening the team’s bond, requires that the team have an opportunity to exchange views and resolve differences without the leader’s proactive influence.  

Guiding a conflict resolution discussion that will lead the team to reach a mutual understanding is like weaving a thread to connect ideas. Asking open-ended questions to discover the motivations behind the […]

By |February 26th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

The Work of Leaders

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Creating value is the work of leaders. 

It’s a perpetual challenge, involving the preservation of key customer relationships, the constant quest for innovations, and the relentless pursuit of quality, productivity and sustainability, all simultaneously occurring in accordance with the company’s culture. 

Preserving proactive, strategic customer relationships yields insights about evolving aspirations, goals and needs, which enable adaptations to ensure that these valuable relationships endure. 

Observing and assessing trends from industry or market engagements encourages the curiosity and anticipation that inspires innovation. 

Aligning operating functions to improve cross-functional performance and produce strategic value for customers while maintaining equilibrium between those tasked with challenging the status quo and pursuing innovation, and those responsible for quality, efficiency and risk aversion. 

Leaders are expected to create value by securing commitment and cultivating shared accountability that improves results. Leveraging their credibility, influence and ability to inspire, they mobilize their people to challenge what is possible, transform goals into actions, model core principles and strengthen culture so that value is created for customers and for the business. 

What can you do differently to strengthen your value creation?

How does your team share accountability for your company’s overall performance?

By |February 19th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Two Languages of Business

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Business discussions regarding value creation or the utilization of resources employ two languages. 

Those who work within the operation most often speak in terms of things – units, hours, etc. Senior leadership speaks in the language of money – dollars earned or saved. 

To attract senior leadership attention, middle managers in these businesses are required to translate the language of things into the language of dollars. Decisions are always made using the language of money. 

The same translation is necessary for those proposing solutions to customers. The projected benefits created by your proposed solution must be quantified in the language of money so that decision-makers can easily assess their value to the business. If you don’t know the worth of a unit or hour to the customer, rely on your experience to specify an incremental amount that is included in your proposal. At the very least, the customer may react to your assumption and enlighten you. 

Connect the generated value in your proposal to a customer’s goal or aspiration and they will see your solution as an investment in their future rather than as a one-time expense that relieves a short-term pain. Go one step farther and describe how your solution also strengthens their competitive advantage, and your generated value will be perceived as strategic. 

Speak the […]

By |February 12th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Controlling the Price Discussion

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Price is obvious to all customers. It’s clear, direct and easy to evaluate. It simplifies, and so expedites, their buying decision with minimal consideration. It’s why they like to hear the numbers as early in your discussion as possible. 

But talking price too early, without first learning more about the customer’s need and why its resolution is important, just confirms their initial perception of your offering as a commodity. And like every other commodity supplier, they then assume that your primary motivation is to sell, not to solve. They sense that you’re seeking the one-time transaction, not a contribution to their success or an enduring relationship; like them, you agree that price is the dominant deciding factor. 

Talking price too early enables the customer to treat you like a vendor, wasting an opportunity to reveal your organization’s experience and competency, and your genuine interest in their success. It discounts your expertise, diminishes your brand, and sets you up for a one-way journey down in revenue and profit. 

For your offering to be seen as more than a transaction -…for it to be recognized as a solution that resolves a need while contributing to a strategic aspiration,…for it to […]

By |February 4th, 2020|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

The Impact of Observation

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Having signed 52 baseball prospects who would later become major league players, Tony Lucadello is known as baseball’s greatest scout. His discoveries included Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins and Mike Schmidt. 

The number of his signees making it to the big leagues is far greater than any other scout. And he accomplished this with a territory that included Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, rather than the good weather states of Florida, Texas or California where more opportunities to discover talent existed. 

In his book, “Profit of the Sandlots,” Mark Winegardner explains how Tony accomplished this feat. He “spurned the radar gun and stopwatch” preferring to observe prospects from different spots around the perimeter of the field versus watching from behind home plate like other scouts. Rather than judging how each performed, Tony sought to assess how coachable a kid might be, if a “hitch in a swing or a throwing quirk might be corrected,” which was best accomplished by observing from different perspectives. This enabled him to envision a player’s potential versus relying solely on a prospect’s current talent to determine if he should be signed. 

Tony’s successful methodology offers lessons for leaders when coaching or mentoring those they lead. The most meaningful insight about a person’s potential is […]

By |January 29th, 2020|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Practicing Productive Conflict

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

The quest for improved results dictates the need for change. It’s a journey filled with conflicting opinions that require resolution before commitment to the change can be secured. 

In his latest book, “Thriving in Conflict,” Doug Johnston presents his definition of conflict as “a gap between what we expect and what we experience that leads to deeper understanding and better results. 

The “deeper understanding” described in Doug’s definition is enabled by ensuring that the exchange of differing opinions remains productive. There are proven tools that facilitate positive momentum towards resolution, but none are more important than humility and some agreed rules of engagement. 

Practicing productive conflict dialogue begins by developing principles to guide how the two parties will engage each other, providing conversational boundaries intended to minimize the amount of conflict. The first such rule involves adopting a mindset of curiosity that shifts away from “I’m going to convince you” to “What can I learn by first asking and listening, before declaring my position?” 

Asking the other party to launch the discussion by stating their goal, explaining why it’s important, and describing what is needed from you, while you listen without interruption, expresses respect and reduces defensiveness, accelerating gap discovery and ultimately, resolution. 

How frequently do […]

By |January 22nd, 2020|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Team Characteristics That Drive Change

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Successfully tackling change initiatives is most often due to these team characteristics than it is to the types of individuals on the team:

Accountability: Team members are comfortable taking risks; the team relies on its leader for support and on each other to act with urgency, commitment and thoroughness. Clarity: Team roles, goals, and implementation plans are clearly documented and understood. Impact: The project goals are personally important for each team member; they feel valued and believe that their efforts will make a difference for customers and the organization.

Teams that demonstrate these characteristics are more energized and invested in the project, and they appreciate the journey. 

What characteristics are evident in your change initiative teams?

How might these characteristics be employed in team member selection?

By |January 15th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments