Identity, honesty and adaptability are key to growing as a professional as well as an organization.
Having a clear sense of identity is important for leaders and organizations. In the play Hamlet, William Shakespeare speaking through Polonius provides this fatherly advice, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” A clear identity enables leaders and teams to be honest with each other as they seek to compete in business. Honesty among individuals as well as within teams facilitates real time adaptability to changes in the market that are critical to sustained success.
Let’s break down the quote from Polonius to peel through the layers that will enhance our growth mindset:
1. “This above all else…”
You must prioritize. There’s isn’t enough time, money or resources to do everything. There are limits and they can demotivate you or force you to take the smartest risks you can imagine. To activate your growth mindset you cannot lose touch with reality, you must learn the ever evolving terrain, rules, resources and limitations. Again, reality is not the enemy, it is essential to growth.
Author of Organizational Physics, Lex Sisney, has composed Three Covenants of operating agreements to help teams maximize input and buy in. Covenant 3 states, “The goal is frank and honest discussion of the facts before a decision is made, followed by total commitment to implementing the solution after the decision is made.” Those in a position of leadership do well to understand that they need as broad a net of inputs as possible from within as well as without their team.
Failure to listen to those who are in the field distributing your products or services, those frontline employees, is cutting your organization off from valuable perspectives. Leaders also must understand that conflict does not have to be negative. Creating an open forum where ideas flow without filters requires the allowance of dissension. The team can create healthy boundaries for discussion to remain civil while making clear the timeline for disagreement and the expectation of buy in once the decision is made. As Sisney put it, “Put another way, it’s OK to question a decision up front but it’s not OK to fight it or ignore it during implementation.”
2. “To thine own self…”
Organizations that struggle with their identify will struggle to clarify their value proposition in the market place. Organizational culture and identity sound like such lofty concepts but they are merely reflections of the teams day to day actions and the identity of the leadership. Your company culture is what you do. Your organizational identity often mirrors that of your leadership. We make culture and identity abstract when we try to create them rather than recognize what they are and then optimize them.
In The Real Life MBA, Jack and Suzy Welch write, “The only reason to talk about behaviors at work is that leaders need be very public, very clear, and very consistent about what kind of behaviors are needed in order to achieve the company’s mission.” Leaders must lead by example, it should be the working definition of leadership but often it falls short of action. When those in a position of leadership understand themselves they free up capacity to find and build other leaders who will round out the team needs so that the mission can move forward. When leaders don’t understand themselves they often lead by fear and hold the team back from reaching its potential.
Clarity comes from truth. Collaboration comes from a willingness to receive input. By combining clarity with collaboration, leaders, teams and organizations will unlock the capacity to compete.
3. “Be true…”
There is an emphasis on authenticity which is important for individuals as well as organizations. Yet, if you are failing or heading towards decline, it takes a strong person to admit they need assistance. In the rapidly evolving market everyone must be acutely aware that what worked last month may not net the same result this month. The need to adapt and adjust to the market is constant. Failure to recognize this reality is a recipe for certain failure.
Our values should be set in stone, in so far as they reflect our ethics and core culture, but our approach to the needs of our clients must be fluid. Lex Sisney shares more on how we remain true to ourselves and yet flexible, “If you want to scale your business successfully — without sacrificing innovation, core values, or execution speed as things get more complex — you’ll need to design on principles, not policies.” Good leadership recognizes the survival of the fittest, which isn’t so much that the strongest and richest survive but those who most adaptable to their surroundings. Recent history has shown how industry giants have been toppled by rigidity and replaced by entities that were willing to change their approach with the fluctuations of the market.
Being yourself and building an authentic company are not unreachable philosophical dreams. A leader who is listening will reap the benefits of real time feedback so that their team can adjust course expediently. Jack and Suzy Welch address innovation in this way, “It can and should be a continual, ongoing, normal thing. It can be and should be a mindset that has every employee at every level of the organization thinking as they walk in the door every morning, “I’m going to find a better way to do my job today.” Leaders who understand themselves can create teams and cultures that thrive. Competing in the market requires a strong identity with adaptability. My father in law wisely calls this rigid flexibility. Stay true to your core and nimble enough to adjust to the tides. Have a vision, work tirelessly to execute on your mission but don’t get so transfixed that you are unable to adapt.
Maintain rigid flexibility as you clarify your identify, build an authentic culture and adapt through collaboration.
IZ Ventures - more than business coaching and consulting, we help you connect, collaborate and conquer.
Relationships are hard work. Two people making a life long commitment to each other, what could go wrong? Add kids to the mix and we're all doomed.
We share a few of our experiences and thoughts on making the best go you can at marriage and parenting. We are not professionals. We are nominal parents.
Perhaps one of the most important keys to parenting is realizing that you and your partner are different. You already knew this but nothing brings out what you love and hate about your partner like marriage and especially parenting.
How we work through our differences is key to our long term success. How we disagree is more important than when we agree as the process of working through that is what makes us stronger.
More videos HERE
We see the commercials where the individuals on screen are reported to be "real people," and surprisingly enough all real people in commercials are very complimentary of the product that they are really learning about and all of their responses are totally real? Take a peek at this commercial from Zebra Corner that is embedded in our article.
"What is initial quality? Initially it's ok and then it's a piece of crap? Is that what you're saying here?" The commercial spoof both puts so many common practices on blast - the concept of ambiguous rewards that sound good, the sheep staring at a new gate positive responses to the message and method of revelation in commercials with real people and the lack of reality in the whole presentation. What is a reward for "initial quality"? As questioned by our protagonist, "Did you rent this whole building just to show off all the cars that you didn't sell?" There is so much that is funny about this commercial but much of the humor comes from someone simply asking the questions that we all are or should be asking. If your business is convincing people that you are the best, there may be an issue with your service or product. Billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and gritty entrepreneur Mark Cuban writes in his e-book How To Win, "Rather than trying to convince people you are the best, let the quality of your work do the talking." Your messages should come from your vision and be an extension of your values, the most effective marketing or branding messages flow from who you are as an organization because they are authentic and will be supported throughout a client's interaction with your business. Too much time is spent on relevance that companies fail to just be relevant (read more about this HERE).
Connect. Collaborate. Conquer.
Do people know your company exists?
If the answer is no = you have a lot of work to do. A LOT.
If the answer is maybe = smack yourself and refer to "If the answer is no." Being lazy will hurt you more than having bad ideas or taking risks.
If the answer is yes = you still have a lot of work to do, but at least someone knows you are out there.
The reality is simple, before anyone can or will do business with you they need to know you are in business (they need to know you exist).
Who are you?
Sales is selling yourself first. Who are you? What do you bring to the universe or at least to the marketplace you are trying to serve?
What is your business?
Your business is an expression of you, it has a purpose, can you describe that purpose on the spot with as few words as are needed (get to the point).
You know yourself and are confident in who you are + you understand your business and can explain it to others = you are prepared to make yourself and your business known.
What problems are you trying to solve?
Whether you sell products or service, you are solving a problem or fulfilling a need in the universe, what is that for your business? How does your business alleviate a barrier, simplify a process or solve an issue in the marketplace?
Who are the people that have the problems you are trying to solve?
You know who you are, you can pitch your business quickly to anyone that wants to know and you know what problems you are working to solve, now it's time to find the people that would pay to have you assist them in those needs. One of the most effective questions in relationships and business is - how can I help?
Identify those people and get yourself in front of them. Initially your only purpose is to establish that you exist. If you get the opportunity to discuss more than the fact that you exist, make sure you listen for needs that your potential customers share that you could potentially assist them with that they would potentially pay you for.
Once potential is established move from the world of the possible into the world of business, the world where good work is affirmed with good dollars.
Who are people that you don't want to work with?
Another important aspect of this phase of establishing existence is to identify those from your list of potential clients who fit into two key categories - A) those that you would like the opportunity to do business with and (just as important) B) those whom you do not want to do business with. While this listed of unwanted clients should not be a published list, it is an important distinction for long term successful working relationships. We want to be a company that people trust and we want to work with clients that we trust. Some relationships are not a good fit, that is fine they will find someone that is a good fit (maybe even with our help if we know someone that could work well with them). Some relationships are dangerous, these we want to avoid.
There is no substitute for meeting people and sharing who you are and what your company does. Listen for opportunities. Observe those whom you do and do not want to do business with.
Set a goal for how many people you will meet every day and build your book of business on introduction at a time.
If you want to discuss business solutions or marketing ideas, contact MizDotBiz
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - More than coaching and consulting, we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer. #MTWSL
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