Questioning Performance

The approaching year-end is a milestone that often triggers an assessment of performance, yours and those who produce yours. What’s your default approach for reviewing performance with your team? Does your discussion focus on goal status, and how you assess what a direct report did, or could do, to impact it? Or, do you probe how that person evaluates their performance, why it occurred, and what they need from you going forward? If this was …

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Your Team’s Two Types of Labor

We know that the most effective teams collaborate, take ownership, and improve results. We know that the leaders who build these teams have the experience and emotional intelligence to understand how their mindsets and actions affect those they lead, enabling the development of trust that strengthens relationships and cultivates their teams’ shared accountability. And, we know that these leaders, who rightly acknowledge their responsibility to develop the talents of those they lead, continuously engage with …

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The Prime Directive for Service

Customer relationships are valuable, fragile, and the foundation of your business. Your customer-service personnel are your front-line representatives, the face of your business. When something does not go as planned, how they respond to your customer-in-need makes all the difference in how that customer appraises the value of your relationship. How are your service people trained to respond? Do they deliver a scripted reply, based on what they can see on their computer screen, and …

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Preserving Trust

How do you react when someone unexpectedly cuts you off when you’re driving? Do you pause and think about why this happened? Perhaps the driver didn’t see you or had some emergency. Or, do you react emotionally, instantly uttering some obscenity? For most of us, option B prevails, because our brain’s first reaction to any stimuli is always an emotional one; and, we’ve evolved to react more strongly to negative inputs than to positive ones. …

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Leading with Energy

Each person in your business is a source of energy, with a unique set of gifts, experience, and insight. And unlike other forms of energy, the energy your people invest in their work is infinitely renewable and expandable. Individuals have consistently demonstrated their capacity to contribute energy, and then quickly recharge. When properly nurtured, a person’s capacity to contribute energy can expand, drawing on a nearly inexhaustible reserve of potential energy and creativity. Leaders can …

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The Customer Service Dilemma

If customer service impacts the value you create for your customers, then you’re confronted with the service investment dilemma. On one hand, if your judgement is that customer service is a necessity that creates little additional value, then you might structure your customer service operation as a cost center. Making cost control the highest priority often ensures that your customers speak with some of your lowest paid employees, who are not empowered to provide solutions or make …

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Finding the Space to React

Urgent issues and changing priorities – these are the daily experiences of leadership. That’s why this insight from Viktor Frankl, offered by David Noble and Carol Kauffman in their book “Real Time Leadership,” is valuable: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This space between a stimulus and a response provides the time for leaders …

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Problems vs. Opportunities

For leaders, there are always problems – a parade of challenges that command urgent attention, most with defined characteristics and threats. There are always opportunities – innovative ideas or new relationships that could create value or accelerate progress, waiting to be embraced, but needing clarity and appraisal. And there are always limits – limited time, energy, money and other resources. How you prioritize where to invest your limited resources directs your actions and shapes your …

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The Power of Promises

In a market where customers have many options available to them, “promising” an outcome, and then delivering it, is a differentiator. A promise is more than a commitment to produce products or services. It’s intimate and specific to each customer. It conveys an obligation to put your customer’s needs and aspirations ahead of your own, based on an appreciation of their circumstances and what they value, as well as your probability of success. Fulfilling a …

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Culture Drives Performance

Increasingly, the discussions I’m having with leaders focus on how to better leverage their culture to improve performance. We’ve experienced more change in the past few years than we’ve ever seen before. The work to be done is evolving, it’s different; so, the way we get it done must be different. Culture is how a business gets things done. It defines who you are as a company and what you believe. While your purpose or …

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