Leadership and the Platinum Principle

Effective leadership by way of the Platinum Principle…

Way back in 1995, I heard management guru Dennis Waitley speak about the following principle that still rings true today:  The Platinum Principle – Treat everyone the way they need to be treated to accomplish what they need to do.

As managers, leaders, and business owners we must be stewards for our employees, organizations, and even our customers to make sure they have everything they need to do the best job they can.

The question we must constantly ask ourselves is, “Am I being a good steward?”

Motivation – the Start, the Finish and Everything in Between!

runningIf you’ve ever participated in a race of any kind, or a big or long term project, you’ve probably experienced the motivation effect. That’s when at the start of the race your adrenaline is pumping, the starting gun fires and off you go! Typically, you go as fast as you can and sometimes too fast because you are so excited and pumped up!

After a while, you start to get tired, your energy lags, maybe your legs start to cramp.  It gets harder and harder to keep going!  You just want to sit down.  Your inner thoughts start to spin, “What was I thinking?” “Why did I ever sign up for this?”

Then you see it!  The finish line is just up ahead!  Your adrenaline starts pumping again and your energy comes back.  You pick up the pace as the cramps start to subside and the fatigue fades away!  You cross the finish line moving just as fast as when you started!  Woohoo!

The start and the finish are almost always great.  We’re moving well and fast, gettin’ it done!  The problem is the stuff in between.  That time when our energy lags and we slow down is what pulls our performance down more than we realize.  And it’s exactly that time we often can pay attention to for the best opportunity to optimize performance.  If we can keep our energy up and maintain a more consistent pace, our overall performance will be much better…faster finish time, less cost, fewer mistakes, improved customer satisfaction.

Keep your motivation and energy up with sub-goals…don’t just run a 5K race but pay attention to how you run each mile.  Add rewards along the way…get a massage after each month of back-breaking labor for that huge construction project.  Visualize the end…bring the sense of accomplishment from being ahead of schedule and below budget from way out there to the here and now!  Woohoo!

Tell me…how do you keep your motivation up?
Rock on! – E

Building Trust Through Systems

How do you build trust?  The simple answer is “Do what you say you are going to do,” and then keep doing it.  In business, consistency is key to building that trust but finding consistency amongst a number of employees or across departmental boundaries can be difficult.

Customers and employees alike don’t like surprises.  We like things to work smoothly, efficiently and effectively every time.  That’s one reason the fast food industry works so well…supposed to at least.  A Big Mac is pretty much the same in every McD’s across the country.  What makes that possible are the numerous systems that are in place to do everything from making those addictive french fries to taking out the trash to actually making a Big Mac.

Systems allow us to complete tasks and provide products and services in a consistent and (hopefully) cost-effective manner.  When we create and follow the systems, employees and customers can “do what they say they are going to do,” and thus no surprises…we get our needs met and everyone is happy.  Every time the system is used and works, we build trust in each other, in the organization, and in the brand.

Some systems are more important for building trust than others, i.e. receiving a pay check on time and accurate would be higher priority for most people than managing the recycling in the company lunch room.  If you are having trust issues, take a look at the systems you have, or don’t have, in place and whether they are working properly…it just might make a difference!

What systems do you feel are important for building trust?

Rock on!

Expand Your Network, Super Charge Your Opportunities!

We all know the fundamental principle that building your network is good for business.  The greater your reach, the more opportunities come your way.  What’s really cool is that you don’t necessarily need to expand your network all that much to find significantly more opportunities.  Here’s an interesting way to look at it…

Imagine your network as a sphere made of people and opportunities circling all around you, i.e. the phrase sphere of influence.  Mathematically speaking, the volume of that sphere (the people and the opportunities) is:

V = ⁴⁄₃π r³

The “V” stands for volume and “r” stands for radius of the sphere.  If the radius of your sphere or your reach, is 1, then V = ⁴⁄₃π 1³= 4.18

Now, imagine you extend your reach to 2, then V = ⁴⁄₃π 2³= 33.41….and that’s a big difference…8 times bigger!  If your reach is 3, you get 27 times bigger and so on!

Expand your reach by just a little bit and your network and the opportunities that come with it grows exponentially!

So, get out there and go to that networking meeting, meet that new person, and build those relationships!

Tell me…how do you build your network?

Don’t forget to subscribe for future posts!  Rock on!

Stop Spinning, Start Doing!

Business is tough.  Sometimes, we make it tougher by getting down on ourselves and saying “shoulda, woulda, coulda” and dwelling on the past, or saying “what if” and worrying about the future.  If we do this on a regular basis, we’re doing what is called spinning…telling ourselves negative stories that continually brings us down and into a negative spiral.  Then every time something doesn’t go our way, we spin even more…we’re already in a bad mood…then we step in something yucky and we tell ourselves we deserved it…then we make a costly mistake and tell ourselves we’ll never make it!…and on and on.

If you find yourself spinning, a simple method to get back into a positive frame of mind is simply to get busy.  When we are idle and have nothing to do, we tend to spin…and spin negative!  If we get our hands and feet doing something, we have to think about the task and stay focused which means less opportunity to think about the past or the future, i.e. less spinning.  Completing our task also leads to a sense of accomplishment and positivity…staying busy gets us on a positive spiral…a much better place to be…and typically, when we’re in a good place, better results follow!

What we get busy with can be work related or something else.  It might be going for a walk, tackling that big project we’ve been putting off forever, mowing the lawn (yes, ice cream would be better!)…whatever works for you.  :)

Stop spinning, start doing!

Tell me, how do you catch yourself spinning…and what do you do to get back on a positive spiral?  Thanks for sharing!

And, don’t forget to subscribe…if you have a blog, be sure to send me a link!  Rock on!

“What’s going to give us the most bang for our buck?”

There’s a segment of mathematics that focuses on finding the optimum formula for a task or series of tasks. It’s called, simply enough, optimization techniques. I like to call it, “What’s going to give us the most bang for our buck?” And, simply enough, asking this question can help us to set priorities, make better decisions, and positively impact our bottom line.

For most of us, we don’t need a lot of complicated math formulas to think optimization for business. It’s fun stuff for math majors but not really practical for the small business owner. Here are a few ways to think through and find ways to optimize your business:

1.  There are usually multiple ways to complete a task. Define each series of steps to completion. Set your measurement criteria, i.e. time, energy or money. The series of steps that lead to the best outcome, i.e. less time, less energy, or less money spent is the optimum approach and the approach you should be using to maximize your resources.

2.  Don’t assume the way you are doing things now is optimum. Very often, we do what’s comfortable or what everyone else is doing or what someone told us we should do twenty years ago. We assume it’s the best way…don’t assume…check it out!

3.  Upgrade! Changes in technology, information, knowledge, and the market makes it important to stay current. You probably don’t need to get the newest cell phone or computer every 6 months but if your technology, information, knowledge or understanding of your market is outdated…it’s costing you money and opportunity!

Let me know…how do you optimize your resources and get the most bang for your buck?

Trust Yourself!

Trust your knowledge.

Trust your skills.

Trust your passion…trust yourself!

Very often people wonder if they have enough education, skills, or credentials.  They get stuck worrying about whether they have enough credibility.  When we delve into it though, they usually have a degree or two (or three) and 5, 10, or even 20 years of experience.  Occasionally, we find they need a little more education or a certification or an additional skill set to round out the package.  But more often, what we find is that what they really need is confidence…in themselves.

If you have a great skill set, a good product or service, and knowledge and experience in your field whether it be 20 years, or 10 or even just 1, trust in that.  If you need more, get it.  Otherwise, get moving, start your business, and put yourself out there.  Trust yourself because you have what you need to succeed!

Team Building 101 – What Would You Do?

You are in charge and employees normally come to you with problems and questions. That’s great unless you want to grow your organization. To do that, you need to delegate and have empowered employees who can handle those problems and situations.

To encourage employees to take the initiative and gain that often sought after sense of empowerment, ask them this simple question the next time they bring you a problem, “What would you do?” and then have a discussion including what you would do, their ideas and opinions, pro’s and con’s, etc.

The Cost Plus Mistake

Many small business owners have trouble figuring out their pricing.  A common method is Cost Plus which is where you add up your business costs and then add a little more for “profit.”  There are a few problems with this method of pricing.  For one, it does not allow for cost increases and too low a price might send the wrong message regarding quality or credibility.  Also, the little more added on for “profit,” is usually too little and profit margin ends up being small or even negative which makes it difficult to grow your business.

A better approach is to consider the value of your product and service to your customers and what they are willing to pay.  If you are not sure, checking out your competition can give you a heads up on what this might be.  Use this number as the high end of your price range and use Cost Plus as the low end.  By establishing the ends of the price range, you now know the minimum you need to charge (so if you want to give a discount, you can) but you also know where to set your price points in regards to the real value of your product and service, your quality message, and effective business growth.

The Pace of Leadership

As a marathoner, I’ve learned a little about the importance of pace.  To run the 26.2 miles of a marathon well, maintaining the right pace is critical.  Your pace needs to be steady and it needs to be one your body and your mind can handle for the entire distance.  Go too fast and you’ll tire early and maybe even end up walking to the finish line.  Go too slow even, with the hope of saving your strength and speeding up later, and you may miscalculate and still miss your finish time goal.

Pace is just as important for shorter races.  Whether 5K races – 3.1 miles, or 8K’s or 10K’s or half-marathons, runners need to keep the right pace.  Each race is different and requires a different pace and pace strategy.  It can take years for a runner to get to a point where they are proficient at pacing.

I remember my first few years of marathoning.  I ran a marathon a year for three years and it wasn’t until that third marathon that it started to click how important it was to keep the right pace.  Walking much of the last few miles to the finish line was a little embarrassing.  It took a couple more years before I could hold a steady pace and the correct pace for the race I was running.

I’ve found leadership is the same.  There is no one best leadership style or one best way to be a leader.  Every situation is different and each one requires the proper leadership style or in essence, the proper leadership pace.  Go too fast and you’ll “hit the wall.”  Go to slow and you’ll miss your finish time goal.  Early in my career, I held leadership positions with little experience, and sadly, little training.  I learned the hard way and made mistakes just like in my first few marathons.  Over time, often through trial by fire, I learned.

Some situations require leadership to be more fast paced or direct, “Please get this done asap,” or, “Fire! Evacuate the building immediately!”  Other situations require leadership to be a bit slower paced or supportive, “Let’s talk this through,” or, “Why don’t you sleep on that and get back to me.”  Knowing which leadership style to bring to a situation is critical to being an effective leader.  Go too fast with a new employee and you may overwhelm them or leave them without the proper knowledge, tools, or training to do a good job.  Go too slow with an experienced employee and they may feel micromanaged.

Just like training for a marathon or some other race, it takes a willingness to learn, practice, and persevere, to get to a point where you can confidently provide the correct leadership style for a given situation.  Your first few tries may not turn out quite the way you intended, but over time, maybe even over the course of a few years, you’ll learn which pace is best for each race and which leadership style is best for each situation.  Lead on!

If you would like to learn more about pacing either for a marathon or for leadership, contact me at: ernest@ealewisconsulting.com

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