It is always exciting to find a shortcut, especially one that saves time and aggravation. There is a great feeling in missing three blocks of traffic by making a quick turn you never knew existed. Shortcuts at work can provide the same type of satisfaction. But what needs to be considered is what is being sacrificed by taking a particular new route.
Process innovation is important as long as the core values of the organizations and the quality of the products or services are maintained or enhanced. Saving two days in production time by bypassing Quality Control or Safety procedures is a big shortcut- but it leads to a big dead end. The time saved up front will lead to huge cost and time expenditures down the road. And it represents a major pivot on ethical, integrity, and best practice standards.
Shortcuts present themselves every so often. Make sure they are not fool’s gold. They can ruin you. Sometimes the path not taken should not be taken for good reasons. Do you consider the consequences of each potential shortcut before taking it? If not, beware.
Leaders are people too. They react to triggers, they get their buttons pushed just like everyone else. But one of the competencies that a leader is supposed to have is the ability to ignore it when those buttons are pushed. They are supposed to know that bad decisions happen when they are purely emotional, based on anger or some immediate unexpected event that provokes them.
Organizations expect their leaders to be able to make smart decisions under all circumstances. Decisions need to be rational, whether they are based on a lot of data points or one view. Leaders need to always remember that their decisions are signals to their employees and to those outside the organization who may be impacted by them. That, in decision making there is a thought process at work and there is consistency with the vision and mission of the organization.
Leaders who are reactive and who shoot from the hip might like to think of themselves as “cowboys” in the heroic sense, while they be petrifying everyone around them. Leaders need to give their teams a sense of security, of predictability, and of caring- caring that the decisions will be made with their well-being in mind.
Knee jerk reactions are the antithesis of the above. They create employees who are afraid to be in front of the boss and afraid of what the boss may do when others are in front of him or her. And fear does not fit in a strong culture
If you are leader with a quick trigger, learn to count to 100, giving you time to think before you act. You will make better, more consistent decisions and you will get better results all around. What are your thoughts?
Companies are so busy thinking about customer experience that they very often forget that it is the employee experience that creates it. Culture and brand are two sides of the same coin. For the outward facing brand to be positive, allowing for an exciting customer experience, the inward facing culture must be positive. That allows employees to feel good about the work they are doing, feel supported by their bosses and by the underlying core values of the company. As a result, they feel as if they are personally contributing to the customer experience.
Employers need to focus inside their companies to get the right results outside. They need to remember that every employee represents the brand and if the culture is supportive, the employees will spread a positive message and will engage with customers in a positive, powerful way. All of the data shows that organizations that recognize and act on this have higher customer loyalty and higher profitability.
Picture an employee in a “toxic” culture having a customer interaction after being unfairly treated by a superior. Is she going to present a positive face to a customer? Compare an experience at Enterprise Car Rental with one in a retail store of a large chain, far removed from headquarters. Enterprise gives a great experience every time. Their culture is strong. How many times have you been ignored in a store while the only employee is on a personal call? Or ignored by a waiter yakking with his buddies?
Strong internal culture equals strong customer experience. Make the employees feel valued and the customers will benefit. Does the employee experience in your company rise to the level of the ideal customer experience?
Most business owners and leaders believe that they have infused their organization with a healthy culture. They do not necessarily focus on keeping it that way. There is much to think about and more to do, and culture moves out of the mind of many leaders much too quickly. (We believe that there should always be a place in the mind-share of leaders for organizational culture but it doesn’t always happen.)
Amazingly, one or two moments can begin to cause a crack in a culture. Behavior unaligned with core values can set a bad example that others soon follow. Here is a symptom that needs to be addressed before it becomes full-blown disease. If multiple cracks occur before leadership turns its attention back to the culture, they may find something they do not even recognize. Toxic cultures don’t start that way- who would go to work for a toxic organization?
Over the last few years we have heard a lot about “teachable moments.” In corporate culture, there are those moments that may not look critical but are, and they revolve around how deviations from core values and behaviors aligned with them are addressed. Ignoring them or blowing them off is not a sign of benevolence, it is a sign of negligence. The culture needs to be nurtured and treasured and kept whole by all who work within it.
Slipping involves falling down, not moving up. An organization cannot move forward if it is constantly slipping. If cultural health matters-and it does- use every opportunity to support healthfulness.
Most leaders go through their careers trying to get ahead, working hard to move up the ladder. Most entrepreneurs start enterprises with visions of building their idea into something bigger, something sustainable. They are basically building their career. At the same time, whether they are thinking about it or not, they are building their individual brands.
Personal brand is an interesting topic. Some folks allow the brand of their organization to stand in for their own individual statement. If they work for a powerful law firm that is known for its “take no prisoners” reputation, they may be more than willing to bask in that identification, especially if they do not quite measure up to it individually. The same may hold true for someone working for a company known for corporate social responsibility and a caring attitude. He may shoulder that image, even if he doesn’t fit it.
The individuals discussed above may survive faking their individual brand for a while, at least as far as the external world can see. But internally, those in contact with those individuals know they don’t fit the brand they are trying to adopt. It ultimately will not work.
At the same time there are those who have never given personal brand any thought at all. They just act the way they choose to act or according to their company’s norms without philosophizing about it. Upon retirement or at a point when they achieve an “AHA!” moment, they may try to piece together a story about who they were. Wouldn’t it have been better to have thought about it in advance and acted accordingly? Better, but not easier.
There are a few simple questions one can ask oneself early in a business career to begin the process of building a personal brand. They include:
Let’s just take a single value, integrity. Many people say they want to be known as having integrity. But integrity is a very broad, nebulous concept. Some would say having integrity means being honest and open, some might say ethical, others might say it means always doing what you say you are going to do. To satisfy everyone that integrity is a core value, Joyce really has to meet everyone’s definition- she has to be honest in her dealings with everyone, win or lose. That means no sneaking, spying, corporate espionage, etc. It means not using informers to find out what employees are up to, not showing favoritism, etc. It means always doing the right thing, no matter how painful or costly. And it means always following through on promises. You say you are going to get back to someone- you do. You promise to return a phone call, you do- always. You say you will follow up- you will. You will and you must if you want everyone to believe that you have integrity. You believing it is not enough.
There are some amazing numbers that come out of a recent survey. Seventy percent of professionals believe that they have defined their personal brand and fifty percent believe they are consistently living that brand. In actuality, only 15% have truly defined their personal brand and only 5% are consistently living it. So clearly, most are not doing a good job.
Nike has a big brand, as does Tom’s Shoes and Zappos. They all sell lots of shoes, but they all have very different brands. In the same sense, individuals should develop their own individual brands that make them stand out from others.
Smart leaders want to have an impact on others and to influence events. They must develop the personal brand that tells others that those leaders are the right people to trust and to follow. This is not a small thing. One looking back at the end of a career can see a winding path with lots of odd stops along the way, but can still view that career as a success if they had a strong brand that defined them and their actions. Those that exhibited “elastic” values and justified behaviors that were not aligned have rendered their brand useless, or worse, have defined themselves as someone who could justify any action to achieve a desired end. Now, there’s a brand.
Personal brand is a big deal. It is a unifying concept that gathers data from, friends, family, colleagues, employees, customers, vendors and the community and distills it into a single description of an individual and what it is like to interact with him or her. It can range from something simple like “He is a mensch”, which says a lot; to “Count your fingers after shaking hands with him”, which also says a lot.
Building a personal brand is very consistent with the 720thinking methodology that applies values and behaviors to skills and competencies across individuals and organizations.