Ever wondered why some companies, large or small can deliver consistent growth and positive, forecast results in good times and bad? So many companies ride the roller coaster of economic vagaries, and the published results are like a camouflaged list of excuses, especially when the economy is slow or there is an event in a geography.
I recently saw a distributor use the excuse of a natural disaster, in one of their geographic markets, to explain their poor results. The truth was, if you looked carefully into their results this area showed growth! Why? Because every store had to replace the goods that were damaged, so this in effect created a one off growth peak! This was just an easy, high profile excuse to use. They were aware that few shareholders actually spend time on the detail.
My research shows, and history will ratify this, that those companies that can perform consistently with open, transparent results are all spearheaded by excellent leadership. The CEO’s, Owners and Management layer are strong leaders, with the ability to bring their people together in a supportive, holistic way. They receive honest, open feedback and forecasts from their managers. As a consequence, they are able to forsee potential negative impact in a region, a product area or a division. They can respond quickly to economic downturn, and discuss creative ways to capitalise on a slow market.
Recently, I met the CEO of a small company in New Zealand in the display industry. She clearly demonstrated that her best years for business, are the ones that are considered slow or recessionary. When asked why, she responded that in those years her competitors go into a dark and negative place, they scale down their efforts as they ‘know’ it will be a bad year. In her mind, a lazy approach.
She takes the opposite approach, she increases her PR and marketing and wins new customers with her positive approach. She rarely discounts her products, instead she generates loyalty with outstanding customer service and no compromise in quality from the factory floor. This lady leads a small and diversely skilled team, who all have enormous respect for each other and value their individual contributions. This company excels in good times and bad through great leadership!
A truly great leader is well informed about his or her business and the market/s in which they operate. They are constantly in open communication with their teams, at all levels, and expect results to be met. This type of leader walks their talk, and the floor every day. They are in touch and connected to the grass roots of their business and industry. They question, and listen attentively. They filter out the rubbish and react on the facts. They respect their employees and their time, and individual contribution, to the business.
Above all a truly great leader leaves his or her ego out of the business and the communication. They see themselves as an integral part of the operation, and not as a supreme being. They understand they do not have superior knowledge to anyone else, but instead respect that everyone on their team, has superior knowledge in their field.
Leaders must transfer their vision and enthusiasm for the expected outcome to every single member of their extended team.
I would like to share this example with you.
I was part of a team to undertake due diligence of suppliers that had bid for a very large solution requirement. One company on paper had stood out as the best on a price/value/service scale and our team was very keen to visit them and hear their presentation. Something, that many may consider quite small, cost them the number one position. In fact they slid almost to the bottom.
When our assessment team arrived, we were surprised by the attitude of their receptionist. She did not seem to have been informed that we were coming in that day to assess a multi million dollar bid to supply our organisation. The contact in charge was unable to be found for twenty minutes, and when they did arrive it was obvious they had been outside the building, and smoking with colleagues without their mobile phone. So not a good start, but not a deal breaker.
We were finally ushered into the conference room, and the room had not been cleaned properly. The presenter had to spend some time removing some catering from the previous day, and several people cleaned off their chair before sitting! The cleaners were blamed, and maybe it was their fault, yet we felt that someone to whom this contract mattered should have accepted responsibility. As a new client, we could clearly see that the vision of the leader was not transferred to the basic operations of the organisation.
The deal was lost.
When it was mentioned to the CEO of this company, he said ‘ I wish you had told me you were coming’
At this point, the CEO of my company who was in my opinion, a truly great leader, said ‘ I think it would have been a better reflection of your leadership commitment, had you been informed internally that we were coming. It is also a concern to me that your vision , that of a quality supplier, is not translated into the floor of your operations. It is that impression that prevents us from awarding the contract to your company.’
In short, a multimillion dollar opportunity was lost, fundamentally because the leader had not ensured the service teams understood his vision.
Great leaders must communicate respectfully, passionately and effectively with all levels of their extended teams. Be open to information. They must facilitate solutions, and stifle blame to keep communication channels open. Be available. Be in the moment. Respond appropriately and follow up.
You as the leader have the most significant impact on your business results.
Terrie Anderson is the author of The Little Red Success Book, 30 Days of Inspiration and other books and publications on Success, happiness, Human Potential, High Performance Team Building and Essence of Leadership. She is the architect of Truly Great Leadership a course in excellence in leadership and the hardcore sales training – 999 Legendary Selling for the 21st Century.
Terrie has had a very successful corporate career and also coaches and mentors a very small group of people throughout the world.
In 2010 Terrie Anderson will be available again for speaking engagements for public or corporate events.
You can contact Terrie Anderson through the website htttp://www.terrieanderson.com where you will find her blog, articles, programs and more. Register today and stay updated.
Terrie enjoys to receive feedback and testimonials about her work and the results you have experienced. You can buy terrie books on www.amazon.com or order through your favourite bookstore.