By Kevin Lawrence (Coach Kevin)
When I started coaching CEOs and Entrepreneurs more than a decade ago, I expected to see some similar challenges and opportunities amongst them; however, little did I know at the time just how much the same issues, obstacles and opportunities would arise. It doesn’t matter whether or not my business-coaching clients are based in Vancouver, British Columbia, across North America or internationally such as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. It doesn’t matter which industry they operate in, their stage of growth, or if they are a company with seven employees or 7,000, the same principles used to ignite business performance apply.
Here is a summary of the twenty top principles that inspire business leaders, motivate employees with the desire to be the best and help CEOs and Entrepreneurs get what they really want now. The complete ebook “Expel the Elephants” can be downloaded here for free.
1. The leader sets the tone
Looking inside many organizations you will find CEOs or entrepreneurs with a relentless commitment to win and an inspiring vision that motivates their teams. They know what they really want and they are ready to take on the world to get it. They are also energized because they are doing what they love, and as a result can easily infuse the desire to be the best in their employees.
Contrast this with leaders who are on a steady path to exhaustion and burnout. What sets the energized leader apart from the burnt out leader? The energized leader sets the tone for success and is clear and honest about what they want. They are also laser-focused on achieving results and taking decisive action to get things done. Are you a leader who sets the tone, or are you losing or original excitement and momentum?
2. Create an environment that really helps you thrive
If your work environment is not structured in a way that helps you thrive, you will lose interest, shut down and look for something else to focus your interests on, guaranteed. To make it even more challenging, everyone in your business and personal life will suffer, not just you. Imagine what your work environment would need to resemble to be congruent with your personality, style and ambitions, and then structure your business (and life for that matter) in a way that fits perfectly like a custom-made suit.
3. Attract and retain A-mazing people
Exceptional talent is the lifeblood of organizations that embrace innovation, pursue customer excellence and have the wits to outsmart the competition. Why tolerate less than A players?
So what do you do if you don’t believe you have the right employees? There are two options. First you can communicate your performance expectations in a crystal clear and measurable way, and then give employees the chance to meet the bar. Second, if they are still underperforming then you need to let them go. It’s okay, you made a hiring mistake – it happens all the time. It may be the wrong company, role or even industry for them. Correcting the mistake now is critical before it becomes detrimental to your team, your customers and your company.
4. Earn the hearts and minds of your employees
How can you improve employee engagement and create a winning team? There are many low cost strategies including:
- Acknowledging employees with a simple “thank-you” or note of gratitude.
- Helping your A players’ achieve their career goals.
- Giving employees performance feedback.
- Celebrating your team’s successes?
5. Use email to boost performance, not hinder it
Email can help us save time and be more productive, but when we go on email autopilot – checking our inbox repeatedly, typing out messages rather than engaging in conversations, copying people who are only peripherally involved along with a host of other bad habits – email can make us more busy than productive.
Get smart with these email habits with the email habits found in Expel the Elephants. I have yet to see a job description that says ‘must have high competency in responding to email.’ People are not hired to respond to email, yet their lives become burdened by their inbox.
6. Encourage meetings that are magnificent instead of mediocre
Meetings can foster collaboration, innovation and action yet most employees gasp with frustration at the thought of another meeting. Stop encouraging meeting mediocrity and instead use every meeting to make things happen with these tips in Expel the Elephants.
7. Lick the Toad
We all know the story of the Princess and Frog where an unhappy Princess frees a handsome Prince from a frog’s body with a juicy, wet kiss. Imagine if she had avoided kissing the disgusting Toad; she would have missed a fabulous opportunity.
We all have nasty Toads in our life: every problem, issue and situation you would prefer to avoid but have to deal with is a Toad. They come in all shapes and sizes, but you cannot hide from them, even if you try and set them aside. In fact, when you hope they will go away, they just come back bigger, smellier and slimier. These Toads are not only distractions, but they also waste time and energy. You need to free up your mental bandwidth for more important and valuable priorities.
8. Do you really know what your customers want?
Many companies assume they know what their customers want. This is not the time to make assumptions. Customers have choice and information at their fingertips. To survive, you must know what your customers really want and what you can offer them that absolutely no one else can provide.
Have you asked your customers what drives them to do business with you? Are their experiences with you extraordinary, or indifferent? What attracted them to buy from you in the first place? Use this insight to attract similar customers. Don’t wait to ask their opinions until they leave – what a waste!
9. Have you eaten your feedback for breakfast?
Leading your business without customer, employee or supplier feedback is like driving a car with your foot on the gas but with no map, directions or idea of where you are going. This simply wastes time and energy.
Feedback is absolutely imperative to igniting and navigating your business to success. Otherwise you simply force your expectations on what your critical stakeholder groups want without really understanding the value and perception they place – or do not place – on what you have to offer.
10. Mobilize employees to achieve your #1 goal
Igniting your business to achieve outstanding results repeatedly is not an impossible feat particularly if your entire team is mobilized to succeed. Business leaders globally have used the ‘quarterly theme’ method from Mastering the Rockefeller Habits to drive one major improvement each quarter. Learn more about how to create successful quarterly themes in Expel the Elephants.
11. Master your ability to deliver on BIG promises
Many companies struggle to market effectively because they communicate messages that do not capture the attention or interest of potential customers. There are also companies who are marketing masters, yet they fail to live up to the great expectations they communicated, which lured customers in the door in the first place. Feeling misled, oversold and completely frustrated, these customers can do significant harm to your reputation by sharing their disappointment with other potential customers, actually ex-potential by this time.
Marketing mastery is promising to fulfill the core needs and desires of your potential customers, and having the entire business structured to consistently deliver on those promises. Every person and process in the company from sales and service, reception and accounting to the executive team and janitorial and security staff delivers on promises to your customers. Your business should not only be structured to deliver, but it also needs mechanisms in place to make sure – in a very clear and measureable way – that you are delivering what you say you will to your customers.
12. Drive your business by the right numbers
How do you know if you are driving your business by the right numbers? Just imagine. If you had to be out of the country for six months and were absolutely unable to communicate with anyone, what are the 3 to 5 numbers you would want people to focus on to guarantee strong financial results?
Most people are completely in the dark with their numbers, both professionally and personally. Why drive your business blindly? To ignite your business, you must create an insight-driven organization by identifying, monitoring and benchmarking the key drivers of your business – the leading indicators.
13. Decisions * Actions = Results
One of the benefits of being an entrepreneur is that you do not have to report to anyone. Yet this benefit becomes is a significant liability for exactly same reason – no one is holding you accountable to achieve results.
You also need to set goals and commit fully. Decisions alone are great, but they need to be followed through with actions. Actions alone are great, but if they are not based on a big decision, results can be elusive too. For example, if you make one decision with ten actions, you get a result of ten. If you make ten decisions with ten actions each, you get a result of one hundred. How is your formula working? Are you making more decisions, taking more actions, or doing both?
14. Expel the Elephants
Companies can unwittingly be a safe haven for problems, personalities, belief systems or behaviors that are so obvious yet no one wants to address them. These elephants in the room are detrimental to business performance if they are not purged from the organization.
Are you harboring elephants in your hallways and boardrooms? If so, identify them and begin methodically expelling them from your business. This may involve difficult decisions but harboring elephants will only hold you back while simultaneously frustrating talented employees who will simply come to believe that substandard performance is acceptable.
15. Debate vigorously but come away as friends
Building high performance executive teams in situations where leaders cannot come together to agree on strategies is deeply frustrating for CEOs and entrepreneurs. These conflicts are also more than apparent to employees and generally signal a lack of co-operation, consensus and camaraderie, which is detrimental.
Often the lack of alignment amongst executive leaders is due to conflicting personality and communications styles coming to fruition during the decision-making process. It can also be due to a deep-rooted lack of trust, which can hinder ongoing working relationships. Debate is critical for good decision-making and in fact it is essential if you want to benefit from the all minds of the different people on your team.
16. Slash the Knot
What does Alexander the Great have in common with Richard Branson, Michael Dell and Jim Pattison? Alexander the Great lived only 33 years but in that short time he forged the greatest contiguous empire the world has ever known. At the age of 20, Alexander arrived in the city of Gordium, a long forgotten city near the present day capital of Turkey. Upon arrival, he faced a seemingly insurmountable problem — the famous Gordian Knot — a knot so large and complex that for generations no one had ever been able to undo it. In fact, the prophecy was: “Whosoever undoes this Gordian Knot will rule over all of Asia.” Alexander studied the knot for a few moments; there were no ends visible or even a place to begin unraveling it. Yet he was a man of decisive action and in an instant, with a single stroke of his sword, he slashed through it.
Alexander the Great, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Jim Pattison, Michael Dell and a host of lesser known but highly successful entrepreneurs all share this one significant trait: Whenever they encounter a major obstacle – a Gordian Knot – they act decisively and instinctively, and slash it.
Are you slashing through your Gordian Knots? Learn more about Gordian Knots and regular knots in Expel the Elephants.
17. Five steps to uncovering your Gordian Knots
- Find out what is standing in the way of your goals rather than blaming other people and ignoring the real reasons; be honest with yourself.
- List all of your current knots (problems) and determine their root cause. In most cases, the Gordian Knot will either be a fear or limiting belief that causes you to persistently face obstacles.
- Look at the types of things you avoid dealing with and then find the fear or limiting belief; ask other people to list the things you tend to get stuck on the most.
- List out the goals you previously had, but have not been able to achieve. Look at all the fun things you wanted to do but have not even begun to accomplish. What is holding you back from achieving your goals and enjoying an outrageous quality of life?
- Gordian Knots often relate to something that has been following you throughout your career and life; it is usually way easier to determine, understand and overcome Gordian Knots if you work through them with someone else.
18. Stopping is just as important as starting
CEOs and entrepreneurs are driven to spark ideas, innovation and action, but it is equally important to consider eliminating things to make room for new business opportunities. Plan now to stop a whole bunch of things to make room for new and exciting growth opportunities.
19. Dare to play, explore and be inspired
CEOs and entrepreneurs usually run into major obstacles when they do not take enough time off personally. Everyone needs downtime to think, to be inspired and to reinvigorate our minds and bodies. Give yourself permission to make time to play, – sometimes on company time – enjoy friends and family and do something completely different and fun. You do not stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.
20. Give back
CEOs and entrepreneurs thrive when they do things that excite them everyday. They strive for their goal of creating a more enriching and rewarding life. They have huge goals and tremendous desire to do what it takes to make things happen. Often in pursuit of these goals, they become habitual workaholics, always working, always squeezing deals. Hopefully, they are not too busy working to forget how good it feels to give. The rewards from giving back will last a lifetime, certainly far longer than another hour of work.
Discover much more insight in Expel the Elephants. Go ahead and share this free ebook with your friends and colleagues. Post the link on your own website, blog or online social network profile, such as LinkedIn or Facebook.
Kevin Lawrence is a strategic advisor and coach to CEOs and executive teams across North America and internationally. Driven by a relentless passion for helping business leaders get what they really want, in business and life, Kevin has coached clients across a wide range of industries, including consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, luxury retail, media, automotive and professional services. He deeply believes that CEOs and entrepreneurs can have tremendous business success along with an enriching, adventurous and fulfilling lifestyle, taking their professional and personal accomplishments to an entirely new level.
For more than a decade, Kevin has helped clients overcome major obstacles, deal with tough decisions and capitalize on new opportunities to generate breakthrough results. Clients often turn to Kevin when they are faced with a frustrating and challenging issue, which causes them to seriously look at making a big change, quickly. His methods, style and savvy approach have helped his clients expand into new markets, build high performance leadership teams, attract profitable clients, improve productivity, and increase revenue and profitability. Also, with Kevin as their advisor, clients reduce their stress and hours worked so they have more time and energy to live their personal version of an outrageous quality of life. For more information, visit www.CoachKevin.com or call 1-877-564-6224
Copyright 2010, SGI Synergy Group Inc. & Kevin Lawrence