Growth & Leadership Insights

3 Behaviors That Reveal Leadership Credibility

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When asked in several studies how they judge a leader, employees cite attributes like vision, experience, communication skills and others; but consistently, the dominant response is credibility.

When pressed to define “credibility,” people typically reply with a phrase like: “they walk the talk.” The consistency with which a leader’s actions align with his or her words defines leadership credibility.

These 3 behaviors reveal how consistently you act in accordance with your words and values:

1. How you spend your time.
The way you allocate your time sends a message. For example, if collaboration is a core value, then a portion of your time should involve directly engaging with others to innovate, improve or solve problems.
2. How you ask questions.
Words are powerful so choose them carefully. The questions you ask can stimulate action in a specific direction. To encourage increased collaboration, you might regularly ask each member of your team to describe the actions he or she is taking to boost collaboration. In a team meeting, seek to maximize participation and raise awareness about the variety of options by soliciting responses from each team member. But don’t ask questions you’re not prepared to answer yourself; you may need to share an example of your behavior to clarify what […]

By |April 10th, 2018|Grolistic, Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

What is Discretionary Effort Worth?

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When a qualified person does the job – completing obligations and achieving assigned goals with expected behavior, we recognize this as acceptable performance.

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

While it can be a bit rare, leaders realize that inspiring this additional energy from those they lead is what makes change possible. If leaders cannot drive productive change that improves results, then they cannot succeed.

So, discretionary effort is worth a great deal…for the leader and for those who contribute above expectation.

For the leader, offering the challenge of discretionary effort produces more than results. It helps identify top performers and advocates needed to implement change. It provides an opportunity to discover which of these high performing individuals can lead others. And, it validates the leader’s credibility and competency.

For the investors of extra effort, the challenge provides an opportunity – to make a strategic contribution to the organization’s future, to be exceptional, to breakthrough and be recognized. Extraordinary contribution creates careers.
How much discretionary effort does your team exhibit?
How do you motivate discretionary effort?

By |April 3rd, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Inspiring Change

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Improving results means tackling change. Change is hard work, demanding commitment, perseverance and discretionary effort.

Only the people in a business can change it, and they will invest their talent and energy to do so if they believe that their actions will make a difference.

Commitment, perseverance and discretionary effort cannot be commanded…they must be inspired.

Inspiration is possible when people believe that their work is meaningful, a realization that springs from an appreciation that their leaders are credible and supportive, consistently acting in accordance with their Company’s Purpose and Values.
How are you inspiring your people to commit, persevere and invest discretionary effort?
How consistently do you and your leadership team act in accordance
with your organization’s Purpose & Values?

By |March 27th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Is This Business Sustainable?

Bob Schultek
Author of 
The Gauntlet

There are a multitude of models used to assess the sustainability of a business. Most evaluate strategy, performance, market growth potential, customer retention probability, governance and the management of human resources.

In a dynamic, competitive market, where customers believe they can find all they need on the internet, and where a competitive advantage built on technology cannot long be sustained, it’s an organization’s culture and people that constitute its most sustainable competitive advantage.

Harvard’s James Heskett argues that “Culture can account for up to half of the difference in operating profit between two organizations in the same business. Shaping a culture is one of a leader’s most important jobs; it can be ignored, but only for so long and at one’s peril.”

The culture of a business is a significant contributor to its success, but evaluating culture can be challenging, involving more qualitative than quantitative metrics. As a result, during a typical acquisition due diligence process, inadequate cultural assessments are the norm as most effort is invested in evaluating more easily measureable parameters. The consequences of a deficient appraisal of cultural impact on the business are significant – a greatly prolonged integration of the acquired organization, wasted time, energy and money, and […]

By |March 21st, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Is Your Promise Synching?

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Your sales team is making promises that the rest of your organization is expected to fulfill. Are those who must deliver on these commitments prepared to do so? Is your promise to a customer synching with the operational resources necessary to satisfy the commitment?

The most productive strategy for increasing sales is to build enduring relationships with customers that generate more orders. Sustaining these relationships requires that your customers recognize you as a reliable partner, committed to their success. Failing to fulfill a promise made when an order was booked is the surest way to erode this trust; once the relationship is compromised, restoring the trust on which it was built will consume lots of time and energy, if it recovers at all.

The days are long gone when a CEO could urge a Sales leader to do what is necessary to secure more orders, and then promptly challenge the Production leader to increase productivity by limiting flexibility. Avoiding these mixed messages in a dynamic, competitive market, when it’s vital to sustain the shared accountability of a leadership team, is a key responsibility for a senior leader. Customers have many options available to meet their needs, so the CEO must remain engaged with core customers to understand what they value. Similarly, another key obligation […]

By |March 13th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Leadership and Change

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Leaders drive change. Whether reacting to an external challenge that threatens the business, or proactively disrupting the status quo to improve performance, leaders and change are inseparable.

The most visible leadership 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.

The same is true for those who lead their businesses every day without notoriety – committed leaders like you, pursuing improvement at every level of your organization to earn sustainability and success. You may be challenging what is possible and pursuing a new opportunity, or fighting complacency by disrupting established practice in pursuit of improvement.

Wherever your change energy is directed, there will be uncertainty, disruption, fear and discomfort among those you lead. People do not readily embrace change. But leaders recognize these emotions as necessary ingredients in a change initiative, leveraging them to focus energy and to encourage their people to persevere in meeting the challenge.

Leaders who remain actively engaged in the change process influence and inspire those they lead to invest the required discretionary time and effort necessary to achieve targeted results, while avoiding a drift towards demotivation.

Leaders are expected […]

By |March 6th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Two Directions for Culture

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Culture tends to move in one of two directions, and as a leader who influences which path your organization and team will take, you have a decision to make. It’s a choice that impacts how you work with others in the organization and the investments you make in your business and yourself.

One path leads towards more openness and transparency. Turn the other direction for control and dependence.

Does your business benefit if your people are smarter, faster and more connected to one another and to your market than they used to be?

Are you hoping that those you serve become more informed, or is greater focus on conforming to the established standards more important?

Are you helping your people gain confidence and mastery in their work, or is fear of failure a better motivator?

Are you encouraging those you lead to pursue greater autonomy or less?

Do you want your people to feel comfortable offering suggestions, or are you concerned that doing so causes confusion and wastes time?

Do you seek productive change or more control?

Leaders and organizations follow one of these paths every day.  Will you pursue more openness or more control?

What’s your choice?

By |February 28th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

When Growth Stalls

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When growth stalls, the need to reassess strategy, people and process becomes urgent.

The people evaluation may considers the “right person-right job” question, balancing an individual’s performance against the consistency of actual versus expected behaviors.

The process evaluation may challenge best practices. What has worked well to deliver productivity with consistent quality versus what can be improved, by how much and how soon.

The strategy evaluation is typically the most comprehensive assessment, often beginning with a review of the latest SWOT analysis, challenging the premises that drove existing strategies, and testing strategy adaptability to changing market conditions. Alternatives to current strategy that were previously rejected are reconsidered. But this typical process often omits a critical first step opportunity.

Before assessing the SWOT, the premises, the strategy adaptability, etc., think about this moment as a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to revisit the purpose that drove the original business proposition. Rather than assuming that your purpose is unchanged, rediscover why the business exists and reexamine how, in the beginning, you planned to make a difference in your market.

When you reflect on the success you’ve earned, what makes you most proud? Are you making the difference you expected? What would be lost if your business vanished?

What makes your business distinctive and valuable to customers? What competitive advantage do you “own” in your […]

By |February 7th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

3 Attributes That Boost Customer Loyalty

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When asked why they are loyal to a particular supplier, customers don’t award the highest grade to outperforming competitors on product or service, or to securing a better price-to-value ratio than the competition. The highest grade is consistently awarded to the sales process they experienced. The primary driver of customer loyalty is the sales experience itself.

A salesperson or business that respects the customer’s time by demonstrating urgency and efficiency earns preference. Sales representatives who help customers lift their heads to think strategically about the future, and share information about new issues and trends in the market, are perceived as trusted partners.

More than demonstrating exceptional professionalism or proven problem solving skills, the 3 selling experience attributes that most drive customer loyalty are:

Providing valuable insights on market trends and competitive activity;
Helping evaluate alternative approaches to minimize decision risk;
Remaining engaged after a purchase, providing ongoing support and counsel.

In this dynamic economy, customers are seeking to learn, not just to purchase. Exceptional salespeople and organizations realize that winning customer loyalty involves understanding the customer’s business and goals, and committing to support their long-term success.
How often does your sales team demonstrate these 3 attributes?
How can you boost customer loyalty?

By |January 30th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

What’s Your Return on Customer Service?

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Increasing activity with current customers is still the most productive, profitable means of boosting sales revenue. And the service level experienced by the customer is a core driver of this increased activity.

In today’s market, access to information is so effortless that many products are seen as commodities and the life cycle of a technical competitive advantage is a long weekend. Providing exceptional service, that saves your customer time and money, is a proven differentiator.

A customer service representative creates a memorable, personal experience by recognizing the customer, actively listening to the inquiry or need, and providing potential solutions in an efficient, knowledgeable manner. To your customer, these folks are your company – folks with unlimited access to your customers.

How much time is wasted, how much customer frustration is amplified, how much money is lost due to delays in resolving customer problems?  How many opportunities for repeat business vanish because your service level reveals a lack of respect or appreciation for the customer’s business? How much of your customers’ satisfaction is impacted by your customer service reps?

Your customer service function is a profit center, not a cost center. Invest in your customer service team, discover what they think and what they need, and then empower […]

By |January 24th, 2018|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments