How Did You Learn to Drive?

My youngest, Luca, has completed his 120 hours of learning driving and successfully passed his driving test to get his driver’s license.  Wow, it has been a big journey over the past year with a lot of time, a lot of teaching, and a bit of patience.

It has me thinking about how we teach someone a new skill.  Often it can be a simple task that most people can complete and other times it can be a bit more challenging, like sitting in the passenger’s seat when a learner driver starts to drift over the center lane!

Too often I see leaders and business owners expect newer staff to quickly be able to ‘drive’ to the same standard that they do.  It often starts with a bit of a task or project that needs to be done and a staff member willingly saying yes they can take this task on. 

This happened to my son.  As we were driving, he went to change lanes, turned his indicator on and I noticed that he did not do a head check in his blind spot.  I let him know this and he replied, yes I did, you just were not looking.  After a bit of a disagreement, I decided to let him continue driving.  After about 10 minutes he once again needed to change lanes.  What I missed the first time was that he quickly would look over his shoulder, then turn on his indicator and move over.  He had changed the sequence from what I normally did.  It does not mean he was wrong and I was right, just that he found another way to achieve the same outcome.

I am always surprised when leaders do not allow staff to learn on their own and come up with new ways to accomplish things.  Too often we try to tell staff everything they need to do and don’t allow them to think and map out their plan.  No wonder the younger generation are getting frustrated with many of the older managers!

So the next time you need to help someone learn something new (or learn to drive) make sure you take the time to work with them and allow them the chance to come up with their ways to approach the task.  

As a side note, I am very happy to say my wife and I went out for a nice dinner and a nice bottle of wine and Luca acted as chauffeur and drove us there and picked us up.  Just a quick reminder of how great it is when someone does acquire new skills and how this allows you to do other things. 

Imagine how many more things leaders (& parents) would  be able to accomplish if they trained and delegated more!

What Are You Selling?

I was recently walking to the shops and 2 children had set up a stand to sell lemonade.  As I walked by, one of them asked “Would you like to buy some lemonade?”  I smiled and rather than just saying yes I asked her a question “Is it any good?”  The little boy sitting next to her said with a big smile “I think so, I already drank 2 glasses of it!” 

I had no choice, I had to support these 2 budding entrepreneurs.  However, it did get me thinking about people at work and their approach to selling.  Some people are selling products and services and others sell ideas.  Regardless of what you are selling in looking at what these 2 children are doing we can all learn a few things.

Product Knowledge vs Enthusiasm

If you are selling a product or service the knowledge that you have around the offering is just as important as the enthusiasm that you have when you sell it.  I am always amazed to meet the experienced sales person that seems to have memorised everything about their products or services, however their sales performance has started to plateau or slide downwards.

Too often they have lost the enthusiasm of getting to know a customer and finding new ways to connect with them and sell their energy and belief as much as the tangible product offering.   I often see the opposite where the new sales person that does not have a lot of experience outsells many of the other more experienced sales people, almost always because of their enthusiasm and how contagious it is to customers.  

Every Leader Sells

When I think of most leaders they are actually in the game of sales.  They may not be selling products, however they are definitely selling ideas.  Their ability to capture ideas and persuade and inspire their people to take action toward these ideas is what they are selling.  Some leaders are natural sales people and have the ability to quickly connect with their people and share some of their enthusiasm to get them started.  Other leaders unfortunately forget how important it is to sell and get stuck in old school management 101 by barking orders and criticising their people, not to mention micromanaging them.  

So what are you selling?  If it is a product or service make sure that your enthusiasm is contagious and that you make a positive impact on potential customers.  If you are a leader of people make sure that you sell your ideas with conviction and create a spark that encourages and motivates your people to want to take action.  If you would like to learn the top 5 Strategies to Selling and Influence please click here.

What is your next step?

“I know that I need to do something, I’m just not sure what to do?” This statement came from a business owner that I recently started working with.  They explained the challenge that they have been trying to identify what the next step forward was for them.  They knew that they were a bit stuck in no-man’s land and were afraid of doing the wrong thing, hence why their business results had started to plateau and slide downward.

When you are feeling a bit overwhelmed it can be easy to bury your head or escape from the pressure (who hasn’t gone to the movies to “tune out” for a while!)  The challenge can be that by constantly delaying what needs to be done and taking action around it, most of the time the problem will not go away.  In fact it generally makes things worse, which can lead to even less options for you to consider.

In my Native American training I have been taught that if you ever get lost in the bush you need to stop and take a moment to mentally regroup. Just over 20 years ago I was on my honeymoon with my beautiful bride in South America.  We were in the jungles of Bolivia and had become separated from the guide and the rest of the group.  To make matters worse, a large jaguar had been spotted in the area (which is why the guide was carrying a gun for protection).   As we realised that it was getting closer to nightfall, we both had to fight the panic that was rising in our minds.

As I calmed down the first thing that came to my mind was “What is your next step?”  It was not, how are we going to survive?  It was not that we might starve to death (or be eaten by the jaguar).  It was, what activity do we need to take to move out of this situation.  After 6 hours of wandering we were able to make our way back to a main trail and return to the camp. It certainly made our honeymoon an adventure!

Too often we forget that life and business can be an adventure and the highs and the lows are what keeps it real.  However if you are stuck in one place, it is hard to move anywhere.

Identifying Your Next Step:

  1. Identify what you have.  When we were lost in the jungle we talked through what resources we had with us. We also reflected on the wisdom and training that we had learnt in the past.  Remember what your strengths are and that you have been in similar situations in the past.
  2. Ask what would others do?  It can be useful to ask yourself “What would someone else do in this situation?”  I remember asking myself what would Stalking Wolf (Apache Scout & Medicine man) do if he was in the same situation.  This helped me gain perspective and wisdom, even if he wasn’t there.  This can also provide you with a range of solutions that you may not have noticed or realised.
  3. Take the first step.  Identifying a number of options is important, however the most critical part is taking the first step.  Action will often precede clarity and by creating momentum moving forward new opportunities and answers will often present themselves.  Also remember that you do not need to be perfect, it is about moving forward and adapting.

Far too often we let uncertainty and fear get in the way of us thinking about our next step.   It is better to identify your next step and start moving, rather than remaining stuck.   So what could you be hesitating on?  Is there something that you should be doing, but have been avoiding?

What is Your Next Step?

Are You a Trusted Advisor?

I was recently working with a group of Account Managers and discussing how the world of selling has changed, especially past the pandemic.  In the past most of the time things were very transactional, or the relationship was not valued long term.  This is one of the reasons why many in sales may not have the best reputation (think of the used car salesperson that no one trusts!)

Regardless if you are selling a product, a professional service or your expertise,  to be successful today you need to establish yourself as a trusted advisor.  Someone that is not just interested in a sales transaction, but someone that will continually add value to their clients after the sale.  

People want to do business and pay for services from those that are trusted advisors.  So what are you doing to become a trusted advisor?  How many other people not only know of you, but would recommend you to others as someone that they can trust? Here are 3 common characteristics that these Trusted Advisors have in common – I call them the 3 R’s:

  1. Reliable.  When they communicate with people (including prospective clients) they have an ability to build rapport and trust.  It is more than the words that they speak, it’s the energy behind their words that are in alignment and they have an ability to truly connect with others.
  2. Relevant.  To be a trusted advisor, you need to be an expert in something that others admire and seek out.  They make things relevant to others and do it in a way that shows they have wisdom.  This also means that they are transparent with what they are recommending – even if it is not in their own interest.
  3. Responsive.  Everyone is busy.  The challenge is that many people are so busy that they are not responsive to other people’s needs.  A trust advisor is very efficient with their time and they are more responsive than others.  This means that they have to be using Leadership Hacks so they have the time (& headspace) to respond. 

By taking action and adding value you can become a Trust Advisor and be appreciated for the difference that you make.  If you would like a complimentary 20 minute conversation on how you can position yourself as a Trusted Advisor, reach out here.

Do you have a Champion Team?

I have been attending the Aussies, Australian National Surf Lifesaving Championships in Perth.  This is a great event with 5000 competitors and a massive number of support crew including coaches, managers, first aid, officials and more.  

I happen to be the Team Manager for the South Curl Curl Champion Lifesavers.  This is a group of teenagers that have spent hours and hours in the surf, swimming, paddling, beach sprinting as well as doing CPR, first aid assessment and studying for the written test.  In the end, we had 9 competitors, with a few reserves. Along with coaches and parents we all made the massive trip from Sydney’s Northern Beaches to the West Coast of Australia.  The logistics were big with us getting boards, mannequins, first aid kits, rescue tubes, fins and other gear over with us, not to mention the donation of a Mazda BT50 Pick up Truck for a week from @melville_mazda  (thanks for the support!!)

When you spend time at a competition, you realise what a great environment it can be.  Watching people put forward their best efforts, after months of training with some winning and others missing out by seconds is an incredible thing to watch.  Regardless of who was on the winners stand, it was great to see the great comradery and respect for the other competitors.  

This makes me look at the many business teams that I work with.  Many of them are trying to create a champion team that can achieve and sustain incredible results!  For some teams this is easy, while others struggle.

So what does it take to be a champion team, in sport or in business?  The characteristics are similar.  It takes commitment, skills development, execution, belief, as well as strong relationships that are willing to support and challenge each other to lift performance to the next level.  

3 Keys to A Champion Team

  • Commitment.  The commitment that is required to be a champion team is massive.  Having the belief and unwavering commitment to dedicate collective focus toward a specific goal is critical.  Too often I talk with leaders who are not clear on what their goal is or what they want their people to commit to, or they make it basic like profit or sales targets, without showing something that will be in if for the team.  
  • Develop Skills.  Practice, practice, practice is what a champion team does in preparing for the competition.  Too often in business teams do not take the time out of the day to day business to develop their skills.  When was the last time your team reflected and improved their skills in the way they thought, communicated, interacted or problem solved?
  • Willing to Challenge Status Quo. Champion teams will not sit back and rest on what they know.  They constantly look at what they can do to improve and reset targets along the way.  They also challenge and support one another to ensure that they have each other’s back and stretch to new heights. 

Our Champion Lifesavers did extremely well with one National Champion, 2 taking silver and the rest finishing in the top 10 nationally, an awesome result.   

If you would like to learn a range of strategies to increase your team performance, please click here for a complimentary 20 minute session.

Is Your Workplace Hybrid Flexible?

Well, the pandemic is truly in our rear view mirror and people are back into a more normal work routine, with everyone being very busy again!  I was speaking with a Senior Leader about their workforce and how many were working remotely versus going into the office.  She mentioned that they were still struggling to find what approach worked best for them and had still not mandated a company policy.

I am noticing many staff wanting to have at least 1 or 2 days per week flexible to work from home.  This can provide the best of both worlds as long as some other things are in place.  In my book Hybrid Workplace Hacks, I explored the multiple options that are available and provided a range of things for leaders to consider.  Here are a few things to be aware of when trying to find the best flexible workplace:

Fixed vs Flexible Approach.  How the decision is made and what days are flexible is something that needs to be carefully considered.  A Fixed approach has the Executive Leadership team making the decision for everyone and telling them what days people need to be in the office.  A Flexible approach allows departmental leaders working with their teams to identify the common days that are best to be in the office together.   So what approach are you taking?

How Many Days Working Remotely.   As I explored in my book there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the number of days people work remotely.  In saying that I am noticing that most staff are working at least 1 day remotely and I am also noticing that this is often a Friday (everyone likes to have the last day of the week without fighting traffic into the office!)  Also by allowing staff to work remotely, you can help retain them as the research still shows staff are happier and more productive this way.

Flexible Office Layout.   With some staff in the office and other staff working remotely, it is important the design of your office is also flexible.  Award winning designers like WMK Architecture continue to create productive and inspiring work-spaces.  Remember you need plenty of meeting rooms and small pod areas for individual staff to dial into a virtual meeting without loudly talking over staff that they sit next to as this can be really annoying!

If you would like to find out more about some of these strategies that leaders are taking to enable their people to be more productive and get things done in less time, please reach out for a free 20 minute strategy session.

Are you leading so your people will stay?

I had an interesting conversation with a younger employee recently.  She was talking about the massive workload and hours that she had been working and how exhausted her and her entire team were.  Over the past 24 months she had weathered the uncertainty of lockdowns, virtual working, increased workloads and stress.  She had reached her limit and was questioning what to do.

She mentioned what many leaders are completely unaware of.  She said that she had been looking on the recruitment websites and someone with her experience in her role could be making up to 20% more than she currently was!

And this is not a one off example.  Across numerous industries and roles, many people are exhausted and looking for a break.  With the market continuing with a shortage of quality talent, this has created an increase in the amount of money that is being offered to get people to switch.

Unfortunately, the leaders are completely unaware of this dynamic.  Many executives have had to weather the storm and find ways to make it through the pandemic and the uncertainty.  Many companies have been able to not only manage through this challenge, but most of them are seeing a big boom in sales which for many will translate to profits.  

The Problem:  Old School Managers  

Many of these leaders are old school and they believe that their people will just stay because that is how it used to be (back in the 80’s & 90’s).  Although they have lost many talented staff over the past 6 months, this will continue over the next 2-3 months.  Can your business afford to lose some of your best and most effective staff?  

What can you do?  

Leaders need to start showing their appreciation for the massive hours and workload that their people have put in over the past 24 months.  We need to recognise and reward them to demonstrate that they are valuable.  This is not always an increase in salary.  It could be in providing them with some skills development that will help them weather future uncertainty (and improve some efficiencies in their current role!) 

If you want some help getting a competitive advantage and keeping your people from resigning, I recommend my Leadership Journey Program.  This 90 day jumpstart program is designed to lift your leaders abilities in managing this new hybrid world and keep their people performing at the next level, whilst retaining them.  

Please Click Here if you’d like more information or a chat about how I can help.

Do Your People Know How to Sell?

I was recently talking with a client in the professional services industry about the shift in the market and how her team was needing to pitch and sell for business.  She had the shock realisation that her staff were really good technically in their roles, however they seriously lacked the ability to sell and influence.

I think many people do not like the word ‘selling.’  For many it brings up images of old school used car salesmen that gives everyone an icky feeling.  In reality, I find the people that are the best at selling and influencing others are the ones that do not view it as just selling a product or service.  Instead, they focus on how they can help others and work with them to understand and identify solutions that they can offer.

One thing great salespeople do is master the 3 R’s:  Relatability, Reliability & Responsiveness:   

  1. Relatability:  If your people cannot relate to potential clients, it will be very difficult for them to sell or influence them.  People appreciate those that they feel comfortable with because of the way they communicate and interact with them.  Being relatable means having a familiarity and a stronger connection, which creates more influence.  How relatable are your people?
  2. Reliability:  When someone has a need or an issue, they want an expert that they can trust to help them.  I remember going to purchase a dishwasher and when I asked questions about it the sales consultant just read what was on the sticker.  This quickly let me know that he did not know what he was talking about and I could not rely on him.  I did what most customers do, I walked away and when I spoke with someone that did have expertise I purchased the dishwasher from them.  When we trust someone, it is easier for us to buy from them. How reliable are your people?
  3. Responsiveness:  Time is something that we never have enough of.  In a sales process many people lose potential clients because they do not respond in the right time frame.  If a client has a need or issue right now, following up with them 2-3 weeks after the discussion is not responsive.  By then most clients have purchased from someone else.  How responsive are your people? 

If you would like to have a conversation to learn more about some of the practical strategies that I use in my Sales Influence Development Program please click here.


Is Uncertainty Slowing Your Leadership?

We see the news with war in Ukraine, interest rates rising and the cost of bread and milk increasing to new heights.  With all the uncertainty in today’s world I am noticing a worrying trend.  Leaders are hesitating.  Rather than assessing the current environment and developing a strategy to move forward, many are freezing.  It is almost as if because things are so uncertain and moving so fast that many leaders are not doing what they should – lead.

We all know that the world is very complex and new technology is constantly moving forward to change the way we operate.  This is nothing new.  Previous generations of leaders have had to face similar environments. The leaders that keep moving and keep adapting are the ones that lead their people to be focused on the important things when things are fluid.  So what are you doing? Are you hesitating and delaying decisions or are you actively moving forward?

Here are a few ideas to help you as a leader:

  1. Be Clear on Your Vision Forward.  Leaders need to have a forward vision.  It needs to be a goal and a direction, as well as the culture that will be created or maintained.  If there is uncertainty around the way forward, staff get confused and unmotivated.  The good news is top talent is motivated by a clear direction and they are also just as likely to leave (or be poached) if leaders are not reminding people of the way forward. 
  2. Make Decisions.  I remember working with a leader who was a perfectionist.  Because of this she did not want to make a decision because she was afraid it may be the wrong one. The problem, everyone else could not trust her because her deadlines always slipped and others had to pick up the pieces.  Once she realised that one of the most important roles of leadership is to make decisions and live with the outcome she became a much better leader.  So what decision have you been putting off that you should make?
  3. Adapt with Change.  Nobody has a crystal ball that will predict the future.  We will make the best decision at the time and things will change and we will need to adapt.  Great leaders adapt to change.  More importantly they are constantly looking for what changes or modifications need to be made so they can quickly integrate them.

Much of this is common sense, unfortunately when times are stressful and challenging, we often forget the universal tenets of leadership and go a little off path.  I am currently starting a new Leadership Mentoring Program for leaders that provides a 90 day time-frame to help them lead more effectively.

If you would like to have a discussion about me working with you as your Leadership Mentor or to find out more about our leadership programs, please click here

What reason do your staff have to come to work?

I was recently working with a client looking at the performance across a number of their departments. As we were discussing some of the dynamics of work, one of them started complaining about their younger staff.  “They just don’t want to work, in fact most of them are lazy.”  I could hear his frustration as he remembered the “good old days” when staff came to work because they wanted to be there—and valued having a job.

The question that I asked him caught him off guard, “When they first started were they lazy and not wanting to be there, or did they show up at the beginning motivated and excited to do a good job and make a difference?”  He did not take long to think about it and replied, “When they first started they were totally motivated and would go above and beyond to get the job done.”  As I thought about his response, I asked him one simple question, “What did you do to them over time that made them lose their motivation and desire to make a difference?”

Too often I hear managers complain about staff not living up to their expectations.  Because the managers set the tone for the entire team (and for the organisation as a whole) they often forget how important it is for them to set the tone and keep others learning, stretching and growing.  Managers have the responsibility to create a culture that gives their staff a reason to come to work because they want to, not feel that they have to.

There are a range of touch-points and activities that managers can do to keep things interesting, keep staff engaged and keep them motivated:  

  1. Get Personal:  1 on 1.  One of the best strategies is to make time to be “hands on” with staff.  This can be a planned activity or it can be spontaneous.  Take the time to check in with them and ask them questions about their personal life and their interests (If I think about my mentors and some of our incredible conversations, many of them were unplanned).  Don’t always make it about work, in fact the managers that are the most admired are the ones that have a personal relationship with their people.
  2. Make Little Things Count.  Look for the opportunities to identify and make small gestures of your appreciation for the efforts that your staff put in.  This is about creating moments in time to recognise people.  You can use plenty of gestures from making them a cup of tea, to leaving them a sticky note on their desk that says “thanks” or provides them with kind words.   Other gestures include bringing them their favourite type of chocolate or giving them a couple of movie tickets because you heard them talking about the new movie that has just been released that they want to see. These small gestures add up, because managers often forget to take the effort to let their staff know they appreciate them. 
  3. Create Shared Experiences.  Another powerful way to keep your staff engaged and get them to want to come to work is to create shared experiences.  Identify activities that you can do collectively that everyone will remember and bring them closer together.  

This can be travelling to another business to learn how they operate, having an excursion that builds a positive team environment or setting up a time for staff and their partners to gather to get to know one another and have some food together.  I remember one company I worked for in the US had an annual Staff Picnic for all the staff and their families.  It was the highlight of the year because all of the managers were tasked with preparing and serving the food to their staff and their families.  They also had activities for children and staff team building events like the egg toss and colouring in competitions.  This allowed staff to participate with their family in a fun environment (and allow their partners to meet the people that they spend most of their waking life working beside!)  The good will and the buzz at the company lasted for weeks afterwards and always brought a smile to the staff.

Review your last week.  Did you do something to give your staff a reason to come to work?  Remember when people show up for the first day in their new job they are motivated, your task as a manager is to find ways to keep this enthusiasm occurring!  If you would like to have a complimentary 20 minute Idea Session with Scott to mobilise your people or get him to talk at your next team event click here.