I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. — Jimmy Dean
With the rapid pace of change all around us these days and the constant drum beat of crisis, it is easy to fall into the Nike trap of management: Just Do It! Just do something! Just do anything!
We all remember playing the childhood game, “Don’t Spill the Beans,” at least once in our lives. The concept is easy: you compete against an opponent by carefully considering how to place beans on your half of a balanced bean pot in order to tip the pot towards your opponent so he gets all of those rotten beans.
The game of business is similar. A great organization knows how to place its “beans” in order to achieve success. When talking about customers or profit, we want the pot to tip in our direction. In regards to bad collection issues or supplier time delays, we want the pot to tip away.
Now, do not get me wrong, I am a mass and velocity kind of guy, but let’s make sure the things we are doing are those that will make an actual difference – a difference in our favor – in the long-term viability of our businesses. When we look at companies that succeed in good and bad times, they focus on the 10 points below.
- Commit to an abundance mindset, not one of scarcity. No company becomes great without leaders who believe that there is more than enough for them to become successful.
- Have a portable mission and vision. Being portable means that your mission and vision for your company is short and concise enough for your team and your customers to take with them. In short, this means that your mission and vision need to be only a couple of sentences so it can easily be repeated. Why repeat? Because, simply, you need to wear it in your heart and have it written plainly on your forehead.
- Focus on constant improvement by asking your customers their needs, wants and desires. The only way you are going to sell more products or services is by gaining more market share, which means you have to sell what people want.
- Use the language and lessons of Good to Great. If you have not read this book by Jim Collins or it has been a while since you last read it, take the time now to make it your own.
- Hold everyone on your team accountable, including yourself, to well-established goals and principals.
- Replace “employees” with “team members” and “groups” or “committees” with “teams.” Language is important to building a culture of success. The players on the Detroit Tigers are all employees of the Tigers’ Baseball organization, but you would never hear them called employees. Everyone on the payroll at Disney is a “Cast Member.” Does that reinforce their role? Absolutely.
- Invest in your people. You cannot coach a soccer team for four-year-olds these days without some sort of ongoing training. Yet, we let people in our own organizations deal with our customers with very little upfront training and almost no follow-up. How can you say your business is important when you do not invest in the people that will determine your success or failure?
- Delegate to talent, not titles. It is too easy and, to be honest, lazy, to delegate to people based on their titles or time in service. Use this year to learn – I mean really learn – what the talents are of your people, and then help them maximize their use of those talents.
- Quit. That is, quit trying to be everything. You have to learn your own talents and then do those things that are in your sweet spot. You will get more done and have more joy in doing it.
- Take time to think. Great leaders commit real amounts of time to think and focus on the future of their business. If you are going to drive your success, you must first commit time to study your road map.
Change is constant. There will always be good times and bad times. Some companies will succeed and others will not. You are in the position to determine your future. So, what is it going to be? What difference are you going to make? Tip the scale in your favor.
Question: What practical steps are you taking each day to tip the scale in your favor? Are you taking time to think? Are you focusing on constant improvement?