Apr 13 2010

Management And Leadership Are Not Interchangeable Concepts


Being a good manager does not necessarily mean you are a leader

Management skills such as forecasting, performance reviews, accounting, budgeting, etc. can be taught in a classroom. But being a good manager does not mean you are also a good leader. No matter how academically efficient the management course, they seldom are solely responsible for business success.

There are countless examples that prove this. Henry Ford had little more than an elementary school education, yet build an empire in the automotive industry.  Abraham Lincoln was a school dropout. I doubt anyone sees him as a failure.  Extraordinary success happens because of leadership.

Does this mean that management courses are of no value? Of course not! Academic knowledge is needed as a foundation. Leadership is then used to implement the principles. A good leader forms a team and motivates them to carry out management tasks.  Let’s take a look at the differences between leadership and management.

Leadership vs Management

A leader leads people, a manager manages tasks.

A leader has followers, a manager has subordinates.

Leaders show personality and charisma, managers express formal authority.

Leaders show, managers tell.

Leaders seek achievement from employees, managers want results.

Leaders are concerned with what is right, managers want to be right.

Leaders give credit for accomplishments, managers take credit.

Leaders take blame, managers blame.

Leaders break rules, managers make rules.

Leaders are proactive, managers are reactive.

Leaders are passionate, managers are controlling.

Leaders facilitate decisions, managers make decisions.

“Management is needed for efficiency. Leadership is needed for extraordinary performance.” ~Barrie Richardson, The +10% Principle

The Good News

To be a successful leader, you don’t have to be charismatic like Alexander the Great, JFK, or Churchill. Ordinary people such as teachers, ministers, coaches, and janitors can get extraordinary results from people because they lead by example.

Keep these common characteristics of good leaders in mind while developing your leadership skills:

Vision – A leader has a clear vision of where he wants to take his business, as well as a what the final ‘product’ will look like. But that’s just the start. They must also be able to share the vision with others in a way that empowers people so they’ll want to follow and be involved.

Integrity – Trust is vital! A leader must be trusted. Team members want to follow someone whose outward actions match their inner values. Such a leader can be trusted because they never veer from the inner values even when it might be a shortcut to do so.

Dedication – Leaders spend whatever time is necessary to accomplish their vision. Others are inspired by seeing the example, seeing the leader doing whatever it takes to get to the next step. When this happens, followers see opportunity to achieve something great for themselves.

What are you doing to develop your leadership skills? Can you see the difference between managing and leading?  As always, your comments are welcome.

Apr 08 2010

One Big Happy Family – The Big Lie

The Assumption

Many business associations promote the idea that, because entrepreneurs are involved in building a business, they are all brothers and sisters… one big happy family. There’s a common bond with interests that bring everyone together.  No matter what their background, two entrepreneurs can get together at a convention to share ideas.  A lot of barriers in the real world vanish during these meetings, allowing people to meet each other and talk, because of their common interest. Nationality, location, race, profession, culture, and other differences do not exist and everyone is treated equally.

If you are a part of the fellowship you are expected to behave in a certain way. At a convention you’re expected to behave like a member of a large family. This usually means sharing and accepting your peers regardless of background. If you break the family “code” you’ll be perceived as insincere and a detriment to the spirit of the organization.

The idea of belonging to a family is a good one. It promotes creativity and can be inspiring to share ideas. BUT, the notion of being brothers and sisters is usually carried too far.

The Danger

Too often the bonding is not based on having a friendship in a real sense, but instead is based on nothing more than the members having a common interest.

Many times the notion of family becomes more important than anything else and overshadows building genuine relationships. I think it becomes a problem when people automatically accept anyone into the family just because they have some degree of like interest. Is it realistic to believe that because we’re interested in the same thing, that this alone makes us equal? No, I don’t think so.

The Magic Convention Example

I read a great story that illustrates the potential problems. A very well know professional magician Fred Kaps was sitting in the lobby at a magic convention. One of the convention attendees approached Fred and asked him to explain one of his tricks. Mr. Kaps politely refused.  Puzzled, the magician asked “Why not, we’re all colleagues here!” Fred laughed and said “Colleagues? Look man, I’m a magician. You are a gardener. We are not colleagues!”

Ouch! The sad part of the story is now the magician feels insulted. He thought Kaps was his equal and that he wasn’t living up to the expectation that it was his duty to give him whatever he asked.  Kaps could have said anything and would have been considered rude… anything other than explaining the trick that he probably labored over for years.

The feeling of entitlement runs wild in the family.  Sorry, but Mr. Kaps or anyone for that matter, owes you nothing! This ignorance is the result of not understanding the value of goals achieved by someone else. Unfortunately, this illusion of equality is promoted by many conference organizers.

“Friendship is a thing of great beauty – but friendship must grow between people. It can’t be instantly installed between two strangers.” ~Tommy Wonder

The Solution

In business, I think we can all agree there are different levels of achievement. Most people know where they stand among their peers. To others it will be difficult to face this truth because of the illusion of fraternity.

Know where you stand and eliminate the notion of entitlement, and you will build relationships with people that will want to help you. Be sure you bring something to the table and help others before expecting them to do the same.

That’s what I think, what about you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Apr 06 2010

Selling Is A Waste Of Time

Do you like being sold? I bet you don’t.

Do you like having someone tell you what you need? Probably not.

How do you feel when a salesperson tries to tell you what’s best for you? Most likely you will feel insulted.

Then why do so many business owners do this to their customers? Why do we do the very things that make us mad? Do you use the excuse “because it’s always been done that way”?

I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to selling, when instead, I should be finding out what people want and trying to get it for them.

Selling Is A Waste Of Time!

Fine. So what is the alternative? After all, you’ve always been told nothing happens in business until something is sold.

Here’s a formula I learned from my mentor when I was building my entertainment business. There was a joke around magicians that he was “the busiest magician that no one ever heard of”. He used these steps to quietly build his empire. It worked for me. I still use the principles today in an entirely different industry.

  1. Find out “where” your prospect is today.
  2. Determine where they would rather be.
  3. Ask them what will happen if they don’t don’t change their situation.
  4. Get a commitment that they are ready for a change.
  5. Offer a solution to help make the change happen.

Now you’re not “selling”. This approach is more like an interview process. The key is that when they explain to you what their problem is and what the consequences are, they not only tell you, but they also convince themselves. Then you determine if you can help them. When you talk to a friend about a problem they’re having you ask a lot of questions, don’t you?

A veteran salesperson will say I’m wrong and likely accuse me of oversimplifying the sales process. They will tell me “You don’t understand my industry… it’s different”.  Really? I’m ready to hear why.

It starts with a simple change in the way you look at the sales process. If you think sales is about twisting arms, poking eyes, and badgering people into buying your ideas, you may get a sale now and then. I doubt it will last. If, on the other hand you approach sales as an interview process to determine and then solve a problem, your prospect will believe you and be happy to “buy” your solution.

Do you sell your customers, or do they buy from you? As always, your comments are welcome.

Apr 02 2010

Close The Sale With A Standing Ovation


standing ovation
n. an enthusiastic outburst of applause during which those in the crowd or audience rise to their feet.

A standing ovation for an entertainer is the ultimate acknowledgment from his audience. Every performer craves it whether or not they like to admit it. The big “O” is the grand prize in show business.

The final moments of a performance are critical for success. It’s the feeling you leave with your audience that will make or break a performer. It’s good business! When someone who didn’t see the show asks “How was it?” or “Was he any good?”, without hearing anything else about the show, if he finds out there was a standing ovation, nothing more need be said.

It’s no different with traditional business. When you complete a sale the last moments are what your customer will remember. The last thing that happens in the sales process, the feeling the customer is left with will be remembered above all else. It makes sense to build up to the applause, to keep them coming back.

I’m fascinated by watching magicians and how they boost their chances of getting people to their feet with applause. There are tricks of the trade to close a show. It should go without saying that a performer either deserves an ovation or he doesn’t. If the show is terrible, clever tactics to get applause mean nothing. As a business owner you deserve praise from your customers only if you provide a service that delivers on your promises.

A magician structures his act to ensure as exciting a climax as possible. Only then will applause-getting tactics be of use. Your business must operate in a way that gives your customers as many benefits as possible to create a feeling of trust at the time of the sale.

Let’s assume you have a good product that solves a needed problem. You also have a support system in place to take care of your customer after a sale. Now we can borrow some tricks from the magic world. Ken Weber in his book Maximum Entertainment talks about ways to get applause.

Don’t Leave The Stage Immediately

A good performer takes a bow and stays for as long as the applause is peaking. Only when he hears the slightest lessening of applause will he leave the stage.

After completing a sale, your customer wants to know they made the right decision. They are more concerned about YOU. Did you really solve their problem? Are you going to be available if something goes wrong? Be sure to stay long enough to answer any follow-up questions.

After A Bow, Extend Your Arms To The Audience

This technique borders on being insincere if done poorly. After bowing, the performer extends his arms to the side, palms up. It’s the motion you would make if you were actually asking your audience to stand… but instead of the full motion, the performer just starts it slightly. His hands will only move about an inch or two without being obvious.

In your business, see if you can get your customer to tell you why they bought your product without coming right out and asking. An easy way to do this is ask which feature they’ll be using first. When they answer they will repeat the benefits and what is meaningful to them. If you did your job correctly by selling benefits, it will be easy to confirm for themself why they made a purchase.

Acknowledge The People Who Stand

A performer give immediate attention to the first person or two who stands with applause, extending his arms directly to them and says “Thank You”.  It’s contagious. Other people will want to join in.

If you have testimonials from previous customers, thank them and share their story with your new buyers. In a group sales settings, always let existing customers talk about your product. It creates excitement for your new prospects.

Conclusion

Going for the standing ovation after a sale is a sure way to start an ongoing relationship. As long as you have a worthwhile product or service that does exactly as promised, why not try to get some praise? It’s what they will remember most.

How do you get applause in your business? Please share some of your tips in the comments below.

Mar 26 2010

The Louder You Speak, The Better They Listen

Speak boldly.  Speak loudly.  Speak with authority.  Unfortunately, many people think this is the best way to deliver a message to your customers.  Ridiculous!  If you want to alienate your customers, then yes, by all means follow that formula.

Communication is supposed to be the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.  The key word in the definition is interchange.  Good communication flows back and forth between speaker and listener.   It’s a process of assigning and conveying meaning to create shared understanding.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of listening.  Let’s take a look at how you can make your message easy to communicate so the listener understands you.

  1. Understand you can’t make people listen, they must choose to listen.
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Your message must resonate with a person’s interests.
  4. Let the audience know understanding is not agreement. They don’t have to agree.
  5. Your attitude is the first thing people see.
  6. Be yourself. Be authentic and at ease.
  7. Open a conversation with things you have in common.
  8. Be attentive and courteous.
  9. Avoid confusion. Keep your ideas simple.
  10. Know the intent of your message.
  11. Confirm understanding with your audience. Ask questions.
  12. Provide a summary.
  13. Be patient with explanations.
  14. Avoid jargon. Speak their language.
  15. Focus. Avoid distractions.
  16. Keep information accurate, up-to-date, and interesting.
  17. Create a mutual understanding that pleases both parties, win/win.
  18. Set the stage. Tell your audience what to expect.
  19. Use analogies or examples to help understanding.
  20. Be prepared. Have all the necessary info at hand.
  21. Encourage input from your listeners.
  22. Focus on your audience. Pay attention to what you hear, see, and feel from them.
  23. Express your individuality appropriately within the context of your audience.
  24. Be open and confident.
  25. Be on time for scheduled communications.
  26. Have a positive attitude.
  27. Make sure your message has purpose.
  28. Know that you have control over the atmosphere you want to create.
  29. Appeal to your listener’s self-interest.
  30. Allow for and respond to questions.

Your customers look to you for guidance. They want to believe you can help them.  Be sure you reinforce that trust by communicating your message clearly.

Would you add anything to this list?  Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.