Business owners, leaders, and managers continue to be stuck in the past. They fail to realize by squeezing out the last drop of productivity, cutting their overhead to the bare bones, trying to cut costs, working harder, and continuing to do business the same way with the same old customers, won’t cut it today. When companies don’t get the bottom-line results they want, it’s not the competition, the economy, or their people, its’ usually the leader getting older and not willing to try new ideas!
The Buck Stops Here!
The leader is 100% responsible for everything – sales, profits, growth, quality, customer service, how organized the company is, people, management, etc. Poor leaders blame poor or stagnant results on circumstances beyond their control. Most leaders sit and wait for the economy to turn around, or some other miraculous event, while they don’t do anything different or decisive. Leaders have to make it happen. Now!
Look at Sears. They can blame their slow death on Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or whatever they want to. But in reality, the leaders of Sears were stuck in the past and made decisions to stay the course, do business the same way they always had, and not change their business model. The leaders hoped their new competition would go away. The leaders didn’t do what they needed to do. No vision. They got eaten alive and now continue to scramble to keep up with their competition. It won’t happen. It’s too late.
Change Me First!
Getting great results is the main indicator of the leader’s vision and performance. Real leaders make quick decisive decisions to change how they do business to get results. Most leaders don’t walk into their office on Monday morning and say, “I’ve made a big decision, I’ve decided to change me, how I manage, how I lead, and the direction of our company.” Poor leaders walk into their office and say, “Why aren’t you making it happen? You’ve got to work harder. You’ve got to get this done now.”
Leaders must have the courage to change themselves first. They have a mission, try new ideas, change their behavior, change their markets, do something different, innovate, try new methods, and go against the grain. Over ninety percent of employees rate their company leadership below excellent. The top 10% of companies have leaders who continually look for new ways to improve, new customers, and new ways to be different than their competition.
Are You Profit-Driven?
I speak at a lot of conventions to entrepreneurs, small to medium size businesses, construction company owners, and manufacturing companies. Their common business challenge is how to make an above industry average profit. Making good profits and getting bottom-line results start with the leader having a dynamic and focused vision people can get excited about. People want to be a part of something exciting and will follow leaders on a mission.
Profit-driven leaders stand up and say, “Here’s where we’re going, and here’s how we’ll make it happen.” Something people can really, really get excited about, instead of the standard: “Work hard and we’ll see how it comes out; and if we do well, maybe we’ll give you bonus or a raise.” People get tired of repeating the same tasks over and over again without any excitement, vision, or passion from leadership – like digging a long ditch. And, when they’re done, they just get another ditch to dig. Then they’ll find some more ditches. This doesn’t make people excited about coming to work and making a difference in the bottom-line.
What’s Your Vision?
Profit-driven leaders start with an exciting focused vision and then connect it to specific results they want. Some companies have a vision to be the best company, the best contractor, the best service provider, or provide the best quality. While that’s an O.K. vision, it’s not exciting. Examples of exciting visions: be recognized as the area leader in customer service, being number one in building difficult technical projects, finishing jobs faster than your competition, or being known for helping your customers make a profit.
What’s Your Target?
After defining your exciting vision, specific results must be targeted to quantify exactly what’s expected. For example, if your vision is to be the best service provider, determine what specific measurable results would enhance your bottom-line. Some targets may include: a referral from every customer, only five percent callbacks, no installation errors, or 98% on-time completion. What specific targets and numbers can you shoot for to realize your vision & get the results you want? Without specific clear targets, your people really don’t know what ‘try to do quality work’ or ‘be the best’ really means.
Ask the people who work for you, “What’s the vision of our company? What are we trying to accomplish? What are our top three priorities? What specific targets are we shooting for? What results are important?” You’ll get 37 different answers if you have 37 people working for you. To get the results you want, get everyone on the same page from top to bottom. Leading and getting the results you want starts with yourself. Change, innovate, and try new ways of doing business. Communicate your clear exciting vision. Define specific targets with expected results. And make it happen!