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.

3 Ways to Nurture Innovation

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Businesses seek to create value by moving faster, being more agile, and unleashing innovation. An innovative culture challenges people to take risks, promotes curiosity and learning, and encourages independent thinking that cultivates engagement, enthusiasm and meaningfulness. All of which strengthens your competitive advantage. Here are 3 ways to nurture an innovative culture:

Consistently communicate that innovation is essential for the success and sustainability of your business. Your personnel must understand that it is not optional. Promote collaboration with customers to develop novel concepts which meet their needs while enabling them to achieve an aspiration. Provide time and space to brainstorm during weekly meetings or independently with associates. Establish guidelines for ideas or suggestions to ensure that those submitted cite quantifiable benefits like revenue generation, quality or productivity improvements, or cost/time savings. Launch a cross-functional team to evaluate and prioritize proposed ideas and suggestions using these guidelines. Allow sufficient time for innovative ideas to develop. Encourage champions, recognizing and rewarding those whose innovations are validated, and the managers who excel at motivating their teams to improve and innovate. Drive fear of failure from your workplace. Leaders who react negatively to a new idea or a failed attempt, create a fear of failure that constrains innovation. […]

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

The Value of “Why”

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Asking “why” produces valuable insight. 

Asking why requires reflection that leads to understanding, often uncovering root cause. Challenging people to think is what stimulates discovery, solutions and growth. 

In a customer relationship setting, asking why establishes what a customer truly values, beyond their expressed need.   

In a quality assurance scenario, asking why something happened, after learning what occurred or how it occurred, accelerates the diagnostic evaluation and identification of productive remedies. 

In an employee development situation, asking why communicates a deeper level of empathy, beyond what can be accomplished through active listening alone. 

But when employing a why question, be aware of two caveats. 

First, because reflection is the objective for asking why questions, allow time for the respondent(s) to answer. This could involve waiting a few minutes, or perhaps sending everyone off to think about the issue, research possible reasons, and return later with an answer. 

Also, the tone used when asking a why question makes all the difference. If your tone is accusatory, reflection about cause will be replaced by reflection about self-defense, producing minimal productive insight. 

How often are you employing why questions?

How has asking why accelerated discovery and decision-making in your operation?

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

Moment of Truth

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

In every customer relationship, there is the moment of truth – the moment when something goes wrong. 

It’s in that moment, when your promise has been broken, that your customer experiences the real nature of your business. What your company truly values is exposed. 

When a business is young, every customer relationship is precious. Promises made to customers reflect a personal commitment and depth of caring that adds value to an offering and cultivates a customer’s trust. 

As the business grows, so does its awareness of risk. There’s more to lose. Policies are created to protect what has been earned. Policies generate procedures, which then require a bureaucracy to manage them. In time, to justify its value, the bureaucracy defends itself – often during moments of truth. What prevails in your moments of truth? Is it your promised care for a customer expressed in your company’s values, or the policy that claims to make things right but is actually intended to protect your company? Which approach enables you and the customer to move forward? In moments of truth, how well your business demonstrates care and commitment is what makes the difference. It’s your people who reveal how much you care – people with the […]

By |August 28th, 2019|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Ways to Strengthen Emotional Intelligence

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

The better a leader relates to and works with others, the more successful he or she will be in building teams that collaborate, take ownership and deliver results. A leader’s strong interpersonal skills enable the creation of connections and the development of trust necessary to help teams achieve goals and drive change. Understanding how their emotions and actions affect those they lead, and engaging openly and transparently with their team, enables these leaders to guide, challenge and sustain their people. These are qualities that define strong emotional intelligence. 

Emotionally self-aware leaders find it easier to be empathetic. Leaders whose drive to achieve is coupled with a positive outlook and adaptability generate an emotional edge that motivates action. Helping employees realize how they make a difference cultivates a sense of appreciation that inspires the extra effort necessary for teams to deliver improvements. 

Exercising these 3 behaviors on a daily basis can strengthen your emotional intelligence:

Practice active listening. Focus on hearing the spoken and unspoken message instead of rehearsing your response; recognize when body language is inconsistent with the words spoken. If you have difficulty reading an employee’s emotion, ask the person to describe how he or she feels about the information they’re sharing and why they’re […]

By |August 21st, 2019|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

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