Intelligent Leadership

I’m always on the hunt for great leadership books, thinkers, and ideas.  A few months ago, I was introduced to John Mattone’s work.  John is the author of Talent Leadership, and he has recently released Intelligent Leadership.

9780814432372Intelligent Leadership reinforces key success concepts and adds to your leadership arsenal with new tools developed from John’s research and extensive work as a leadership coach.  It’s one of those books that will help you better understand yourself and others, insuring greater success.

John, you developed a model for leadership you call the Leadership Wheel of Success.  I will point readers to the book for a detailed explanation, but let’s just focus on the outer core for a moment.   You identify nine specific leadership skills required for a successful leader.  How did you develop this model?

Skip, the notion that the definition of a target of leadership success is different for every leader and organization led to the explosion of competency-modeling work primarily in the 1980s and early 1990s. Every organization was creating its own targets of leadership success. Of course, this led to the rise of consulting and research firms who took advantage of real market needs to help these organizations research and define leadership success in their own unique organization for their own unique leaders. The result? We have learned that the definition of leadership success—the leadership success target comprised of leadership can-do, will-do, and must-do—is really not all that unique to a particular leader or organization. In the process, through years of research, we have gained tremendous intelligence about leadership success and the competencies that define success. The early leadership competency work done by David McLeland and McBer and Company, as well as the more recent work of the Center for Creative Leadership, John Kotter, Lominger, my own firm, and hundreds of other notable researchers and leading thinkers has added not only a unique perspective but also a corroborative perspective that there is value in creating a universal target of leadership success.

Would you touch on the inner core and why it’s so critical to focus on?

Igniting Passionate Performance

Photo by timsackton on flickr

This is a guest post by Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. Lee is a leadership advisor and author of 12 popular leadership books. This article is based on his bestselling book Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Your Employees.

In today’s hyper-competitive market, creating sticky customer relationships is paramount.

After all, keeping existing customers is five times less expensive than finding new ones. That’s good business in anyone’s book.

Traditional competitive factors like product design, technology and distribution channels are harder to sustain in a super-fast, mega-networked world. In fact, the good old “Four P’s of Marketing” – product, price, promotion and placement – are having much less impact for companies competing in today’s marketplace.  A fifth “P” – people – has become an increasingly important competitive factor.

Consider this: About 70% of customers’ buying decisions are based on positive human interactions with sales staff. Add to this the fact that 83% of the U.S. gross domestic product comes from services and information which are created and delivered by people. The bottom line is that people buy from people, not companies. So, your people – and the performance they deliver – are the defining competitive advantage for your organization.

The Anatomy of Passionate Performance

Think of the times you’ve gone shopping or to a restaurant and dealt with service people who were visibly excited to be in their jobs and to be serving you. Their words jumped out of their hearts rather than being regurgitated from a script. They probably surprised you with the extra effort and thoughtfulness they put toward satisfying your particular needs or questions – and they actually seemed happy to do it!

70% of customers’ buying decisions are based on positive human interactions with sales staff.

Now, consider how you felt when you left these establishments. Did you buy more than you had planned? Were you likely to return? Did you recommend these businesses to friends? You probably answered “Yes” to at least one of these questions. That’s the beginning of a value chain that starts with engaged employees.

When people are engaged in their work and feel a deep connection to it, they deliver Passionate Performance. Passionate Performance creates satisfied customers, and ultimately, value for the organization.

5 Customer Service Lessons from the Department of Motor Vehicles

 

You can learn from every situation.  Whether it was an incredible service experience that makes you a raving fan or whether it is one where you’re left shaking your head.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to celebrate a milestone with my daughter.  It was time for her to obtain her driver’s permit.  She had finished a weeklong driver’s education course, passed the written test, obtained all of the paperwork, and we had dutifully filled out the forms.

Everything was ready.

Now it was time for us to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), get her picture taken, and obtain the permit.  I knew it would take time.  That’s the nature of the DMV.  I figured an hour to an hour and a half max.

Instead, we quickly realized that getting the permit was going to be about as difficult as Frodo making it safely to Mordor.

All of us have had the same shared, miserable experience at the DMV.  In every state I’ve lived in, it’s the same.  We just forget, don’t we?  We finally get what we need, and then we hope that we never have to go back.

Our experience was even worse than what I recalled from before.  Nearly five hours later, we finally emerged with the permit.  All of the waiting for just five minutes at the counter.

We were exhausted, but we also were laughing.  That’s what we do when we are beyond frustrated.  Jim Rohn used to say, “Learn to turn frustration into fascination.”  When I’m terribly frustrated, I try to heed his advice.

 

Learn to turn frustration into fascination. -Jim Rohn

 

Here’s what I jotted down in my notes during that first hour:

I’m fascinated:

  •             That this operation is so inefficient.
  •             That no one has redone this entire system.
  •             That we blindly put up with it because we feel powerless.
  •             That leaders haven’t emerged to fix it.
  •             That they aren’t listening to suggestions for change.

 

After two hours, I was no longer fascinated.  That’s when I go to my second step.  I look for customer service or leadership lessons.  That worked for the next hour.

What business lessons can we learn from the DMV?

From my notes:

Set expectations.

At the DMV, they don’t give an estimated time until you will be served. Failing to set expectations leads to disappointment.

Lesson:  Whether running a business or serving on a team, it’s important to set expectations—and then keep them.

9 C’s of Lincoln’s Leadership

Photo by netdance on flickr.

When it was in the theatres, I watched the extraordinary movie Lincoln.  Rarely do I watch a movie a second time, but I’m such an admirer of President Lincoln that I couldn’t wait for its video release.  My family watched it last weekend.  To me, the acting is so perfect that I feel like I am truly watching Lincoln himself.

There are thousands of articles and books about Lincoln.  As I watched the movie, I noted some of his attributes for achieving his goals.  The movie was primarily focused on Lincoln’s goal to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.  Throughout the fight in the House of Representatives, Lincoln was:

1.  Committed.  He was willing to risk his reputation to do what was right.

2.  Clever.  How he won votes in the House of Representatives is part of the story that intrigues me.

3.  Calm.  In the midst of incomprehensible stress, Abraham Lincoln was calm.  He would tell a story, a joke, or quietly sit by himself.

4.  Compromising.  He didn’t compromise his values, but he understood the political necessities and how to negotiate in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

Lead With Friendship (Bread)

 

When we first moved to Nashville, someone gave us a “starter” for Amish Friendship Bread.

It looked like a Ziplock bag of liquid glue.  It came with instructions.  It was the “starter” for Friendship Bread.  Follow the instructions and mix in other ingredients, and you will end up with magnificent dessert-like bread.

We loved it.

And my wife loves to bake, too.

When you bake this bread, you end up with more of the “starter” mixture.  It seemed to be a mixture of yeast, flour and sugar.  Before long, my wife was baking this bread as if our kitchen was a commercial bakery.

If you visited our house to change the locks, you walked out with Friendship Bread.  Same for the plumber, the handyman, the electrician and the alarm salesman.  Basically, if you walked within one hundred yards of our house, you were going home with Friendship Bread.

 

 

Still, it kept growing.  Our kitchen counters were literally overflowing with this stuff.

Until, one day, we had enough.  My wife gave all the starters away, and we were finished.

(I’m not sure how much weight I gained during this period, but it was worth it.)

Friendship Bread really was named perfectly.  It was a great gift, a good conversation starter, and who wouldn’t immediately like someone giving them homemade bread?

The experience is a good lesson for leaders:

 

Leaders Give With No Expectation of Anything in Return