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.

Your Business Lives on the Street

The primary challenge for every new business is to win that first customer. Your product or service may be exceptional, but if its value proposition fails to attract customers, then there is no business. 

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Once you’ve earned a customer’s trust, the challenge shifts to retaining it. Your customer evaluates your relationship by asking: does your offering deliver the promised value? Is your quality reliable and your service personal? Are innovation and improvement, guided by their input, key components of your culture and your means for enhancing the value you offer? How do your offering and your people make a difference for them, contributing to their growth and progress? 

Your first customers launch your business, but it’s their enduring trust that sustains it. 

Regardless of how big you’ve grown, your business lives on the street, with your customers. Preserving their trust compels that your highest priority remain what it was when your business was founded – appreciating what your customers value, and exploring how you may help them overcome their challenges to achieve their goals and aspirations. 

During your journey, the need for better efficiency or higher productivity or reduced risk may seek to detour you away from your focus on market and customer. […]

By |May 8th, 2019|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Overcoming the Fear of Change

The market is littered with once great companies that could not change as needed to meet new business realities. With the pace of change accelerating, leaders seek to direct it rather than just adapt to it.

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

But change raises fear and anxiety, which is why leading others effectively through the journey of transformation is one of the most challenging, and necessary, leadership responsibilities. The fear of change grows as people consider the risks of the unknown, questioning whether where you want to lead them is better than where they are now. Will the future be better than the present? 

These 3 tactics help leaders overcome the fear of change that can paralyze their people and impede progress: 

Sell the desirable future.People must grasp the benefits of the change before they will accept it.  Identify the advantages related to the needed change, explain how these benefits outweigh the risks, and describe why the desirable future is better than the current reality. Consider who is impacted by the proposed change – who is rewarded by it and who is punished. Then make the new change desirable by rewarding employee performance that conforms to the required behavior. Over communicate.Most of us need to hear points and counterpoints more than once […]

By |May 1st, 2019|Grolistic|0 Comments

Speed versus Bottlenecks

The pursuit of speed and agility is constrained by bottlenecks. 

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Bottlenecks arise as a consequence of striving for functional efficiency. The premise is that maximizing profit requires that we optimize the use of resources. Since people tend to be the most expensive resource, being efficient demands that everyone be kept busy all the time. 

It’s easier to measure efficiency by focusing on narrow, functional processes, without regard to cross-functional work flow and resulting outcomes. In pursuit of efficiency, the amount of work flowing into the functional process on which people work is kept high, increasing the likelihood that every employee, of every skill type, will be fully utilized. 

But every process has a constraint or two, and people can only work the process as fast as those constraints allow. The consequence is that the process slows down. When there is more work to do, it takes longer to complete any one job. Work in process (WIP) builds just ahead of each constraint and invested hours accumulate like inventory. So keeping everyone busy all the time does not produce efficiency, and the resulting bottlenecks hinder the drive to move faster. 

The solution is to redefine efficiency. Rather than striving to […]

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

What Advantage Do You Own?

What’s your competitive advantage in the market? Why do you own it? 

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Once you know the answers, invest your heart, mind and energy on leveraging your advantage to create value for your customers, dominate your competitors and grow your business. 

If your advantage is trust, always deliver more than what was promised. 

If your advantage is knowledge, collect it and share what you’ve learned with your customers and employees. 

If your advantage is relationships, build enduring ones by partnering with your customers to accelerate their progress and sustainability. 

If your advantage is being innovative, focus your curiosity and research on meeting challenges that go beyond satisfying customer needs to fulfilling their growth aspirations. 

If your advantage is responsiveness, devote your energy on consistently responding faster than expected, and more promptly and thoroughly than your competitors. 

And if your advantage is price, buckle up…you’ll spend most of your time counting pennies and sliding downhill. 

Whatever your advantage, leveraging it to create value for your customers will increase the value of your business.

What is your distinctive competitive advantage?

How can you better leverage it?

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

The Dialogue of Change

No one can be compelled to change, so no change initiative can succeed without dialogue between the advocates and those impacted by the change. 

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Beginning this discussion before the initiative is launched provides the opportunity for people to exchange conflicting opinions, explore possibilities and discuss obstacles as a precursor for committing to support the change.

For the advocates, the launch dialogue is an exercise in persuasion, intended to start an open, productive conversation with those impacted, aimed at convincing them that the change is worthy of their support.

Those affected by the change need an opportunity to express their concerns before they will allow themselves to consider proposed benefits.

The most successful change dialogues begin in response to an empathetic message from the advocates that expresses a sincere interest to uncover the worries of the affected parties. Asking those impacted how they interpret the change initiative, and listening to their responses, provides clues that enable the two sides to find common ground.

How do you encourage productive dialogue with those impacted by a planned change?

What methods have been most effective in earning support for your change initiatives?

The Journey Matters

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

In the classic story, “The Wizard of Oz,” the four key players are each searching for something they lack. When challenged by the Wizard to steal the Witch’s broomstick, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tinman begin a quest during which each discovers that hidden within them is what they seek. By sharing the journey, they help each other realize this insight. 

All journeys can be transformational, from those that traverse space to others that navigate through ideas. Sharing a mission with others is a bonding and learning experience, enabling the participants to recognize their individual strengths and vulnerabilities, and to appreciate the power of collaboration to accelerate personal development and team progress. If people commit to a shared journey, they emerge from it with a greater sense of purpose, mastery and ownership, realizing the potential that lies within them. 

This is why journeys matter, and why leaders driving change inspire their teams to embark on them in pursuit of innovation and improvement. Results produced from these initiatives benefit the organization, the leader, and the participants. The organization’s competitive advantage is strengthened, the leader’s credibility is validated, and the participants discover how they make a difference. 

How do you inspire your […]

By |April 2nd, 2019|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Cultivating Breakthroughs

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When heads are down, focused on getting things done, people can get stuck. Looking around, they often find that they are surrounded by people who are just as stuck as they are, so progress slows to a crawl. 

That’s because one of the first questions we are taught to ask at work is: “What’s required here?” By meeting the spec, we get evaluated as being diligent, reliable and loyal. 

But then, someone sees a different way forward, a path not previously explored. A few others recognize the potential and join in the quest, becoming a bonded team that wants to share the journey, moving exactly where they want to go. The result is a breakthrough. 

Breakthroughs are driven by those who seek to make a difference, to do work that matters. They ask: “What’s the opportunity here?” For them, it’s about contribution and forward progress, not simply compliance. It’s a more challenging route, but for them and for the business, it’s worth it. 

All workplaces include those who seek to protect their status quo, while others search for ways around obstacles, recognizing that these limitations are not real. Some people prefer to check boxes while others seek to draw the boxes.

Leaders rely on […]

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

Valuing Discretionary Effort

When an employee fulfills obligations and achieves assigned goals with expected behavior, we recognize this as acceptable performance. The job is getting done. 

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

But when one contributes more than the common standard, more than what’s expected, then that’s discretionary effort. 

To improve results, leaders need advocates who can collaborate with them to drive productive change. For them to invest discretionary effort, these advocates need to appreciate how the change creates value for the business and how they can make a difference by making the change a reality.

So, the value generated by discretionary effort is significant…for the business, for the leader, and for those who contribute their energy and time to the effort. 

For the business, improved results resulting from a successful change initiative create value. 

For the leader, driving productive change validates their credibility and competency, but it also identifies high performing advocates who might have the potential, and aspiration, to lead.   

For the investors of extra effort, the challenge of implementing valuable change offers an opportunity to make a strategic contribution to the organization’s future, to be exceptional, to breakthrough and be recognized. Discretionary effort creates careers. 

How are you inspiring discretionary effort?How do you recognize those who choose to invest […]

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

What Customers Value

A customer’s inquiry typically solicits a resolution to a stated, short-term problem. If your solution relieves the customer’s immediate pain, without contributing to their long term progress, then you’ve produced transactional value like any other commodity. And you’ve wasted an opportunity to reveal your organization’s experience, expertise and competency in a way that differentiates your business. 

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

But, if prior to proposing your solution, you discover why resolving the customer’s need would contribute to their success, then your solution can become more than a transaction – it can be an investment in the customer’s future. Learning more about their current circumstances, and how their current challenge is constraining longer term progress, opens the door to a dialogue with the customer that transforms your solution – from the resolution of an immediate problem that produces transactional value into an opportunity that creates strategic value for the customer by removing an obstacle that is inhibiting the achievement of their goals. 

Customers prefer to work with providers who create strategic value for them. Your solution creates strategic value when it:

Produces quantifiable benefits that resolve the customer’s immediate issue while also contributing to the achievement of a longer term goal or aspiration; andStrengthens the customer’s competitive […]

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

Change Takes Practice

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Wherever change energy is initially directed, there will be uncertainty, disruption, fear and discomfort among those who are impacted by the change. As a result, the first reaction to change initiatives is likely to be resistance; once the impact is clarified, advocates emerge who refocus their energy on learning more and seeking a means to contribute. 

Leaders realize that inspiring these change advocates to invest their talent, energy and time is the first critical milestone in the change process. And once the champions have accepted the challenge, they need a channel for their investment. Without promptly identifying this path forward, energy and urgency diminish, creating a drift towards demotivation. 

The channel provides direction and structure for the change initiative to be planned, implemented and monitored for effectiveness. As an example, the channel may be a process improvement initiative. For the leader, the channel provides an organized method to remain actively engaged in the change process, to influence its direction, and to sustain the inspiration that launched it. It offers a way for leaders to practice their skill of driving change. 

For the champions, in addition to being the focus of their discretionary effort, the channel provides a medium to […]

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