For several years many small business owners have asked me the same questions:
“How can I grow my business without significant capital investment?”
“What can I do to stabilize the trends in my business?”
“How can I out-market my competition in the midst of price erosion?”
“How can I maintain a consistent level of revenue to ensure a consistent level of profit?”
“Why are my people loyal one day and turncoat the next?”
“What can I do to motivate my staff to invest more time and effort in effectively selling or delivering my product or service?”
“How can I eliminate excuses and inspire commitment?”Because these are the most frequently asked questions, I have invested considerable time and effort in seeking out the EXPERTS and learning their methods in dealing with these challenges.I have made it my mission to vigorously study the masters in management, sales and marketing. The philosophy that I espouse is an amalgamation of what I have learned DIRECTLY from the leaders in business, such as: Tom Peters, Jack Welsh, Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Jay Abraham, Tony Robins, Morris Shechtman and many others. I have found that while these business gurus have different approaches, they all seem to agree on six absolutes of successful business management in the 21st Century:1. We are entering an age of uncertainty, expanding knowledge and unrelenting change.
For these reasons, what worked in the past will no longer work in the future. Even the most successful companies must commit to continuous improvement. Uncomfortable introspection must become a habit – -a willingness to eliminate dysfunctional behaviors, and a determination to model a culture that can tolerate unpredictability, uncertainty and vulnerability. Old methods must be torn down and new paradigms constructed.2. “WHO we are” is far more important than WHAT we do.
The increase in knowledge and change has created an “Intra-personal Revolution.” Individual performance and quality of life will reach new heights by focusing on the internal frontier within each person. A good product or service is no longer adequate. We must leverage relationships and personal values to gain cooperation and market share. Leaders must first change BEFORE they can expect their team-members to change.3. Business leadership will be rendered impotent without deep commitment to a pre-defined, consistent value set.
This focus allows organizations to clarify and act on core values, which will ultimately serve to create a tangible and unified culture. Corporate mission or vision statements will be useless without clearly articulated and non-negotiable boundaries that are enforced and protected. Values without boundaries are merely platitudes. There also must be value consistency between decisions. Strong leaders never have two sets of values to choose from. It is more important to make “value-consistent decisions” than it is to make the “politically correct” decisions.4. Accountability must precede profitability.
Accountability does not exist outside of a relationship. People must be accountable to “someone.” No one can be accountable to himself or herself. This will produce conflict and confrontation but that is not bad. On the contrary conflict avoidance must be eliminated. In fact confrontation is the highest expression of love. Leaders must move from “taking care OF their people” to “caring FOR their people.” In this new culture to demand less from our employees is as unfair to them as it is to our customers and ourselves. There will be no consistent profitability without accountability.5. Peak performance must replace adequacy.
Mediocrity, which has become the standard of performance, must become intolerable. Successful leaders should set expectations high enough so they are just barely within reach. They should demand greater effort, invest more time “inspecting” performance and be willing to confront damaging behaviors and attitudes. This will inspire individual growth. Companies cannot grow unless the people in them grow first.6. Companies must become “learning organizations.”
Leaders and their employees who develop the capacity for self-analysis and adaptive learning will have a remarkable competitive advantage. They will win the battle for mind-share and market-share. This includes quantitative as well as analysis both for internal as well as external elements of the business. When the people within the organization resist learning in place of simply performing job functions, stagnation begins.I have seen what can happen when these six absolutes are satisfiedâ€¦. Businesses become stable, client loyalty improves, revenue and profits grow, employee turnover drops, new initiatives can be launched quickly and effectively, market differentiation occurs, employees give not out of obedience but out of discretionary effort and there is cooperative, harmonious teamwork. People go BEYOND what is expected of them.This is not a dream. It can be a reality. I have seen it with my own eyes. It is important to understand that this is NOT exclusive to my consulting practice. I know several consultants, like myself, who employ similar tactics with similar positive results. You see, in business, as in medicine there is a new standard of care. It is a standard that focuses on preventative maintenance and improving health rather than merely treating symptoms and constantly fixing aches and pains.But as in medicine, the patient must believe they need to become healthier in order to accept treatment. You may be making money, but this is not the only measure of health. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are your sales erratic – up one or two months then down for the next few months
- Are profits unstable or is there a lack of natural growth in the business?
- Is there a high employee turnover rate?
- Is there political infighting, blame shifting or a lack of accountability among your employees?
- Is there an absence of discipline or self-centered attitudes?
- Have dysfunctional behaviors like dishonesty, insubordination or emotional outbursts occurred in the workplace during the last six months?
If any of these symptoms are present in your business, its time to think about making some core changes to your business culture. These changes begin with the ability to cope with the unrelenting daily change in our economy. They are an outgrowth of our ability to change ourselves first BEFORE expecting others to change. They are interwoven with our commitment to a pre-defined, consistent value set. And they are an example of our ability to hold others accountable for peak performance rather than just mediocrity.