This form does not yet contain any fields.

    Entries in Leadership (13)


    Price vs. Value

    The simple comparison is; Price is what you Pay, Value is what you Receive.

    The true goal is to find the equilibrium where they both meet.  I pay $10 and I receive $10 in value.  I guess to break it down to the simplest example, a gift card would be pure equilibrium.  You pay exactly what you receive.

    However, when you think of a gift card, you don't think of value.  You paid for what you receieved.  I've never heard anyone bragging or referring friends to buy the $20 Starbucks gift card because the $20 was stretched out into some magic way.

    In the service business, the goal SHOULD be to create value.  To maintain the quality and integrity of your product or service while widening the Price vs Value gap as far as possible.

    I love it when clients say, "I love paying my invoice, because I know that for what I have paid, I have received X multiples more in value."  That should be music to any business owner or entrepreneurs ears.

    Value cannot however be confused with Volume.  Although there are example of  Value and Volume colliding (like a Costco Value Pack of Chicken) that's not true value.  True value, as I define it is when the product or service, when compared with similar products or services costs the same or less, but delivers relatively more service or product to a customer.

    A value pack is more more than bulk pricing.  Retailers pass on savings to the customer to drive top line says while maintaining a realtively fixed (but low) gross margin.

    So enough technical speak.

    Everyone loves it when feel the value vs. price equilibrium slanted towards value.

    Equally, everyone hates it when it slants the other way.

    Can you think of an example when you paid $10 and received $1 of value?

    Can you think of an example when you paid $10 and received multiple times more in value?

    What you pay is generally a fixed amount, what you receive is dependant on who is providing it to you and how realistic your expectations are.


    Lost and Leading

    It’s easy to get lost.  Let me rephrase…I get lost a lot.  Now if you were to ask my beautiful wife, she would probably tell you that I’m not “that bad” but see…she has tricked herself into believing that even when I look “lost,” I most likely know where I’m going.

    I find the tendency as leaders is to do just that, even when we’re lost, try to at least look like we know where we’re going because, hey…competent leaders don’t get lost..

    I’m sure Columbus made a direct line to North America without a wrong turn, and that the many esteemed Generals and military leaders plan of attack worked flawlessly and expelled the perfect amount of effort for the task at hand.

    Likely not.

    The fact is, getting lost is a part of learning, growing and especially leading.  It’s tough to admit when you’re lost.  I know I don’t look forward to the long stroll into a 7-11, casually trying to glean information from the cashier about where exactly “here” is…

    In business we set plans, cast vision and lead staff and customers to where we are headed…but sometimes, things don’t pan out.  Casting vision is the first step in executing, but flawless execution is not a necessity.  I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché stories of Michael Jordan getting cut from his High School Basketball team and Thomas Edison striking out on countless ideas before he stumbled upon the light bulb, but it’s much simpler than even those examples illustrate.

    Along the process of being lost, you go through a couple stages:

    • Panic – Where am I…What’s going on?
    • Doubt – What did I do…Why did this happen?
    • Pride – I can get out of this…I don’t need help
    • Humility – I can’t get out of this…I need help

    These four stages generally apply to most situations and while the timelines are different (each stage could be minutes, hours, days) most people will experience each one.

    The key differentiator that I find with successful leaders is their ability to embrace these four stages and learn from them.

    I struggle with each of these stages myself within various contexts and must continue to be reminded of;
    (a) my role as a leader
    (b) my responsibility as a leader
    (c) my commitment to the plan/organization/people 

    Navigating through difficult situations is a reality. Viewing them as anything but an opportunity to learn and grow is a failure.


    Solid Brands Are Timeless

    A strong brand should never become obsolete. Branding and marketing alike require a thought out process that allows for accountability and excellence to drive the brand forward. Before discussing the power of a well-developed brand, it is important to define what is not a brand. An established brand is not a fad or a trend, but rather remains timeless and relevant. In recent years, the ‘live strong’ yellow bracelets worn by cyclist Lance Armstrong have become quite a popular item.

    The bracelets original goal was to raise awareness and support cancer research. The bracelets became more of a fad then a brand, as once the ‘newness’ fell away, the public was off to the next market trend. Brand power is ultimately about longevity, as brand power develops the market around them, growing with the clientele. The bracelet example illustrates the importance of marketing, but also shows how a popular trend does not necessarily lead to a developed brand. A strong brand requires a commitment to quality, market momentum and industry leverage. With these three things in place, a product or organization can work towards moving past the trend stage and into a well-developed brand.

    Developing a strong brand is not an easy task, but must be planned, strategized and effectively orchestrated. A healthy brand builds deep relationships with their consumers, and has their hand on the pulse of what the market needs and wants. With longevity comes the ability to set products and ideas not around what the consumer wants today, but rather match what they wanted yesterday with what they will want tomorrow.

    In saying that no brand can last forever, critics negate many past examples of brands that have stood the test of time, and offered like Coca-Cola and Tide Detergent. These brands have continually adapted to market conditions without compromises the core values and objectives that have remained strong since their inception. Ultimately, for a brand to remain relevant across generations means that a comprehensive team committed to excellence has worked with a superior product or service over time.

    Brands that fail to remain competitive either lack one of the three key elements discussed, or are simply a fading trend. Brands that succeed have found a way to make it work. Whether it is giving the choice to customers like Burger King, or just creating a popular and desirable product like Coca-Cola, successful brands stand the test of time because they demonstrate the ability to set them apart and do what it takes to succeed.


    Be True...Be Consistent

    Words that most people would agree with...unfortunately, like most things worth doing, easier said than done!

    I'm not an avid hunter by any means...And by "not an avid hunter" I mean...I've never been hunting, but I do have a huge respect for the patience, discipline and consistency that is required to be a strong hunter.

    One of the specifics of hunting that I regularly think about and use in my own life is the importance of having the right tools.  Big game hunting requires the right weapons, gear and clothing, but consistent in any type of hunting is the need for your weapon to be "true."  Your aim could be perfect, but if the sight of the weapon isn't true, you will miss the target every time.  That's a perfect analogy for leaders and true.  Set a vision and plan for your business and life...and be true.

    I was reminded of this when speaking recently with one of my staff, in our need to constantly be bringing ourselves back to our original business plan and our core values.

    New Business Verticals: We enter new business lines or change existing ones and lose track of our "main thing."  If we stray to far from what made us successful in the first place...we will lose it...somethings all of it.

    Hiring: It's easy to hire around difficult situations.  A few staff leave...and we rush to replace them, often making mistakes and hiring outside of our core team values.

    Consistency plays along with the core value of "being true."  Jim Collins regularly talks about doing the same thing (hopefully the right thing) over and over and over.  Success is consistent.  It's difficult to fake and you can only pretend for so long.  If we commit to doing the right things consistently, and our plan isn't flawed (which is a whole different discussion), then success will come. 

    The biggest mistakes in life and business are made in haste and off the path of our core values.


    How to Lead: Influence By Relationships

    Leadership is influencing and motivating others to work towards an established goal that furthers their organization and/or movement. Where there is any strong leader, there is a group of followers willing to be led. As such, it is the leader ‘s responsibility to establish goals to measure the progress of their leadership, in turn allowing those being led to evaluate themselves within the context of the group.

    The use of autonomy and ownership harness group enthusiasm and allows group members to work towards a mutually established goal rather than the goal or solution assigned by the leader. Motivation allows leaders to use the skills within the group, freeing them up to oversee the group and cast a continuous vision as progress is made. A leader is ultimately measured by is effectiveness, and because of that, the team surrounding them must be equipped and managed to support the goals of that leader.

    The act of managing fulfills many principles of leadership. Motivating and mobilizing workers, bringing out team strengths and working through team weakness ‘ are just two small aspects to the role management undertakes. The role of the manager can often be overlooked in the name of team leadership, as teams breakdown barriers and help to balance the disbursement of duties. Although effective, teams without a central vision and visionary behind it risk losing focus and developing large inefficiencies.

    One of the key oversights that leaders fail to release is their responsibility to cast vision and set organizational goals. Although managers require leadership skills to motivate subordinates to complete the task at hand, leading as a concept maintains a much more macro view of any given situation of conflict.

    The responsibility of a leader is to maintain a ‘trailblazing ‘ attitude, paving the way for others to follow, casting vision that sets the direction for organizations ranging from 10 to 10 million people. Leaders must have a diverse skill set and have the ability to prioritize and conceptualize solutions in order to maximize and define their role as a leader, differentiating themselves from managers who focus more on keeping teams on track and motivating employees. Servant leadership essentially elevates others to greater levels and motivates the team as a whole, increasing employee moral and developing inter company relationships.