Growth & Leadership Insights

It’s Not The People…It’s The Leadership

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

We begin our careers by accepting an entry level job with specific requirements and responsibility only for ourself. If we do well, and increasingly master our assigned duties, we get promoted; if we sustain our high performance, then we continue to earn greater responsibility.Eventually, given our reliable performance and high mastery of skills, we’re promoted into a leadership role and required to lead others who are responsible for doing the tasks we excelled at doing. We’re expected to transfer our mastery to those we lead. And our success is no longer about us getting results – it’s about helping our people get results. Leadership is all about making our people the priority. It succeeds by leveraging influence, inspiring initiative, and sacrificing ego, taking no credit but accepting all blame. If we lead well, then our people will choose to follow our lead, discovering how they make a difference, and creating value for customers and the business. This is what defines successful leadership – it’s not about getting the most out of people, but rather helping people do their best work.If one person on your team is performing poorly, do you challenge that person to do better, to turn things […]

By |January 13th, 2021|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Altered Urgencies

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

For many of us, it’s back to work in a new year. Catching up, answering emails, checking with the boss, revisiting pending deadlines.

It’s typically a time when fewer things are urgent, a time for resolutions and reviews, a time to reflect on what worked well during the past year and what could improve. Remember those process deficiencies you wanted to fix but couldn’t because daily urgencies consumed you? Now is the time to make those process improvements more urgent.

Improving a process generates tangible benefits that improve your and your team’s productivity, enabling better management of the pending urgencies that lie ahead. Once those urgencies ramp back up, when there’s little time to do anything but react, you’ll again rely on the methods you’ve always used because it’s easier to do so in the moment. 

Those trusted methods are like habits, just like those that were the focus of your New Year resolutions. And like those resolutions, it will take time, commitment, practice and perseverance to replace the old ways with the new. Temporary remedies won’t work; the objective is to decisively improve inefficient methods. 

With your team, review the list of processes you wanted to improve. Then, prioritize these by first […]

By |January 7th, 2021|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Customer Experience Insulation

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

The customer-driven market is the future of business. Those who thrive in it anticipate disruption, partner with key customers, relentlessly challenge the status quo, and drive, rather than adapt to, change.

Decisions related to these strategies rely upon urgent, unfiltered feedback from customers. How insulated are you from this direct feedback?

When a small business delivers a poor customer experience, the leaders quickly learn about it. Complaints rise and customers leave. Post-purchase reparations are expensive, and goal achievement is compromised. The threat to sustainability is palpable. Upon hearing the bad news, leaders in a small organization can promptly take corrective action.

But as a business grows, the structure it adds to increase efficiency and reduce risk inhibits its ability to react with urgency. Because the organization doesn’t reward ‘bad’ news, feedback regarding a negative customer experience is filtered before it reaches the leaders who can act to address it, leaders who are often consumed with other priorities. They aren’t exposed to the valuable feedback that frontline workers get, because they haven’t prioritized getting the user experience right. It seems more important to please their boss, attend meetings and keep the numbers on track than it does to fix what might not be broken. So, corrective […]

By |December 8th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Evolving Values

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

For numerous companies, this is the 2021 planning season. The widespread disruption to business during 2020 raised awareness about what can and cannot be managed when overwhelming, unexpected events occur. Uncertainty is no stranger to business leaders, but the profound, unprecedented impact of the Covid challenge caused many to reconsider their purpose, values, and vision before delving into goal setting, strategy development and action planning.

Among the results of this foundational review is a refocusing on purpose: how does the business make things better for their customers as a priority over making things better for themselves. This perspective reflects a lesson learned as business sustainability became increasingly urgent.Similarly, there is an evolution of core values resulting from the experiences of 2020. Established principles are being refined, including these examples:

Collaboration – Collaboration promotes curiosity, enables learning, fosters commitment and accelerates progress.  “To go fast, go alone; to go far, go together” (African proverb); or

 Innovation – Being innovative is blending ideas from different sources to break the status quo and find a new solution, enabling more consistent, productive change than does the introduction of a novel technology.

And newly cited values are gaining prominence:

Empathy – a recognition that greater understanding of others […]

By |December 2nd, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

To Cultivate Breakthroughs

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

One of the first questions we ask when we begin a new job is: “What’s required of me?” When these basic expectations are met, we get evaluated as being diligent and dependable.But when heads are down, focused on reliably completing expected tasks, people can get stuck in their routine, and never question if there’s a better way to do the job. Looking around, they often find that they are surrounded by people who are just as stuck as they are, so everyone stays the course, the status quo survives and nothing improves.Then, someone sees a better way forward, a previously unexplored course. A few others recognize the potential of making a difference, and join in the quest. They become a bonded team who share a purpose and a change journey, delivering an improvement that creates value. This defines a breakthrough.Breakthroughs are driven by those who seek to do work that matters. They ask: “What’s the opportunity here?” For them, it’s about curiosity, contribution and progress, not simply compliance. It’s a more challenging path, but for them and for the business, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.All workplaces include those who protect the status quo to drive efficiency with reduced risk, while […]

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

3 Phases of Conflict Resolution

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Whether it’s seeking improvements or managing shifting priorities, leaders invest significant time resolving conflicts. Efficiently managing differences, be they with peers or within teams, to arrive at a shared commitment, proceeds through 3 phases that require a mix of empathy, discovery and tenacity.1.      Leverage your empathy to change your mindset.  Our tendency, particularly with those we lead, is to manage these discussions with the mindset that we’re going to convince the other party that our perspective is better. It’s a position grounded in our experience as leaders, we believe that we already know the answer, so it can be challenging to consider alternatives. Those who have a different view sense this arrogance, get defensive and then emotional. Resolution occurs more quickly when we approach these conversations with a willingness to learn why the difference exists.2.      Discover the origins of the opposing perspectives. Begin this diagnostic phase by deferring to the other party, asking them to help you better understand their view by sharing their goal, why it’s important to them, and what they need from you; when it’s your turn, share your position by answering the same 3 questions. Then, seek to agree on the current reality and on the […]

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

Valuing Discretionary Effort

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Completing delegated tasks, and achieving assigned goals, in accordance with expected behaviors defines acceptable performance by a competent employee.But when that person digs deeper, investing extra time and energy to make something better for a customer or the business, we recognize this as discretionary effort that reveals exceptional performance.If improving results is the prime directive for leadership, then a leader’s competency largely depends on the ability to influence and inspire people to risk change and follow the leader in making something better.So, no leader can succeed without cultivating and appreciating discretionary effort. Because results cannot be improved without people who will contribute extra effort to change something which can deliver those better outcomes.And these change initiatives render more than improve results. They validate a leader’s credibility, while providing the investors of extra effort with opportunities to resolve challenges that are strategic, future-based and larger than themselves, thus increasing their experience, confidence and self-worth. Both leaders and team members are offered the chance to be exceptional contributors to their organization’s success.

How do you motivate discretionary effort?

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

Problems and Opportunities

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

There are always problems – a parade of challenges that command your attention. Systems are down, people or organizations are working against you, or there’s a compelling difficulty that needs resolution.

There are always opportunities – innovative ideas or new relationships waiting to be embraced. These are chances to create value, to share or give, to move faster, or to make something better.

And there are always limits – limited time, energy, money and other resources.

How do you prioritize where to invest your limited resources? Your answer shapes your attitude, your actions and your future.

If problem resolution is your default mode, then the risk is that your focus can be too tactical or short term, directed too inwardly, inhibiting your ability to sense and promptly assess growth opportunities. The problem with making problems your priority, aside from the fact that they can weigh you down, is that they consume attention and resources which might be better focused on opportunities that create value for your customers and your business.

Of course, problems can’t be ignored, but often, there are people in your operation whose primary function is to resolve problems. It’s your principal responsibility, and highest […]

By |October 27th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

No One Wants To Be Hustled

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

First impressions still matter. These days, the chance to make a positive first impression is more likely to occur via a virtual connection than by a masked conversation in an elevator. But the necessity of building rapport and trust during these early moments of connection remains essential for development of a productive business relationship.

The metaphorical elevator is a useless place to pitch yourself or your idea – no one buys from someone on an elevator. But the point is that you get only a minute or two with a new contact to influence their judgement and make that positive first impression. Trying to explain who you are, what you do and how you can help someone, without knowing anything about them or their needs, is a waste of time and a turn off.

Making the most of any networking opportunity begins by starting a conversation that focuses, not on you, but on the person you’re hoping to connect with. If you can discover who they are and what they hope to achieve, then you’ll learn if you could help them succeed. And because generosity is the genesis of trust, even if you’re not a good fit for them, […]

By |October 21st, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Thriving in the Customer-Driven Market

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Today’s market is more customer-driven than ever before. Everyone and everything is connected, everywhere and all the time. 

Companies who compile “big data” believe that it this gives them an advantage, but in reality, today’s high connectivity makes data access available to many. Often, much of the available data is inward-looking, generated by the operations of the business, rather than outward-looking which reflects customer or market insights.

Your business lives with your customers. It always has, from its beginning, when getting that first order was essential. In this dynamic market, your customers’ needs are continuously evolving; what they value can change frequently. 

Companies who thrive in this customer-driven market:

Sustain strategic relationships with key customers, seeking to continually discover what they value and empowering their people to challenge what is possible in creating that value. They cultivate entrepreneurship, commitment and shared ownership, encouraging cross-functional collaboration to innovate and improve.

Transparently share appropriate data with customers to confirm how value is being created for them, and within the business, which enables their people to realize how each makes a difference for customers and the business. The sense of shared ownership is strengthened by data sharing, and internally, awareness of personal growth opportunities is raised.

The […]

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