I recently was in the grocery store. Looking for my favorite coffee. When I found the isle I was presented with a wall of choices. 38 different varieties of coffee were on the racks with another set of choices as to the volume of coffee. In a simple walk through the rest of the store, I began to realize that consumers are presented with a Tsunami of choices in all categories.
We all become overwhelmed with these choices and often then gravitate to the best known brand or make some other criteria that will provide the consumer with a method to make their purchase. The lack of true analysis based on the choices translates into consumers sometimes buying the product that is not the highest quality or the best product, but the product that they know best.
This lesson of choice is important to each of us individually or as a corporation. When given a choice, why would a consumer seek to choose you? What makes you remarkable? Are you packaged differently so that you and your product stand out? What features of your product is extraordinary? In service industries, it is close to impossible to change our products. But our presentation of our products can provide the differentiation that will allow for us to stand out. Design or experience or features, they all are ways to different products. Apple computers uses a design and simplicity as the hallmark of their product. They have the most elegant designs and the simplicity of their user interface is years ahead of the competition’s. Bank of New York has long emphasized the ‘history’ and ‘experience’ of the bank and its bankers as their distinguishing marks. They don’t sell checking or saving accounts, they sell the value of their advise in the financial arena. It is what sets them apart. Trader Joe’s, a grocery store, long ago determined that they could provide high quality private label products to their consumers. They choose to eliminate the big national brands in lieu of their own labeled products. Many grocery stores do this also, but Trader Joe’s did it with panache, a unique sales experience, and the quality of their products made them highly successful. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 22, 2011 No Comments
Many organizational managers assume that by adding leadership training or a leadership development program that they are able to create a culture that accepts leadership. The move from non-existent leadership to a leadership culture takes time – and a few steps in between. Let’s look at how you can create a culture of leadership.
First, you, as the organizational leader, must acknowledge the existence of leadership potential. It sounds simple, but many leaders do not want to admit that they are replaceable – that someone or more than one person would be capable of taking the reins once they’re gone. Don’t be that leader – seek out and recognize that the organization has talent. Acknowledge that the talent will one day be capable of taking over your vision and moving the organization forward. By making this acknowledgment, you’re telling your mid- and senior-level leaders that a path exists. And you’re telling new hires that the sky is the limit in your organization. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 8, 2011 No Comments
The sixth foundation of leadership is Persuasion and Influence. Let’s find out what each of these critical actions is – and then talk about why they are so important. Persuasion is a combination of actions that can help people agree to or at least see a new viewpoint. First, persuasion is about communicating ideas clearly. As a leader, you’ve probably got a big vision in mind for the organization, and most likely some smaller “milestone” visions, as well. It’s a hard leap from your mind to an articulated thought – and some leaders fail to make the leap. You’ve got to know your vision inside and out, but you’ve also got to express it in terms that are understood by the entire organization.
When it comes to communicating your ideas, you’ll soon learn when it’s time to talk – and when it’s time to listen. That doesn’t necessarily refer to one conversation or interaction – it could amount to months of listening and months of talking – or longer. The key is to use just the right amount of persistence to keep the idea going, to keep people thinking, and to keep the idea’s momentum going. David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, was known for discussing opposing points of view repeatedly until the people involved saw the other side of the story. He used just the right amount of persistence to get this done. When you’re communicating, talk benefits – not how you can help or what you can do. Paint a picture of what the other person, team, or organization will look like once they’ve accepted a new point of view. Don’t forget to base your benefits on fact. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 20, 2011 No Comments
I was asked by my son, who is a recent graduate from Syracuse University, what is the message of my blogs.
I did not know how to initially answer him. Finally, the answer arrived.
My personal message is Optimism.
Optimism for individuals, families, communities, companies, the nation and for the people of the world.
All of my messages are optimistic but not an unrealistic assessment of the future is that we can develop a limited and sustainable vision of Leadership and Learning.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 24, 2011 No Comments
Maintaining the leadership pool is a challenging task for an organization and its top leaders. There are a number of activities, as well as developmental exercises, that can be undertaken to grow leadership at every level within the organization. But how can organizational leaders measure leadership? And, more importantly, what analytics can be used to ensure that leadership talent is used efficiently and appropriately? Let’s look at some broad categories of leadership analytics.
First, behavioral profiling is an excellent analytical tool. There are two ways to approach behavioral analytics for leaders. First, you can identify behavioral characteristics of well-known leaders, either in the world at large or within the organization itself. These general characteristics can be used as a “yardstick” for leadership development and leadership measurement. There are many sources of popular leadership profiles, but how can you profile within the organization? Myers-Briggs type indicators are one example. A certified Myers-Briggs consultant can assess leaders, name their “types”, and help the organization build profiles, communication plans, and job-specific characteristics – and use these items as leadership analytics. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 18, 2011 No Comments
Leaders can inspire, champion change, and engage followers who will stop at nothing to watch the vision become a reality. Being in a leadership position enhances your own personal and professional image, as well. But there are risks involved in leadership. Let’s discuss five common leadership risks and how you can avoid them.
History will tell you that leaders can become isolated. In an organizational environment, this is sometimes caused by growth. For example, leaders who start out in a small organization that grows in leaps and bounds can suddenly find themselves alone, without a proper support system and sounding boards. Perhaps the other leaders he or she relied on have their own groups to lead. There is also the possibility that the leader got lost in the shuffle – inspiration can cause people to charge ahead without stopping until the vision is complete. How can you avoid becoming isolated? One of the key ways is to maintain constant communication with other leaders and with the organization as a whole. Leaders who conduct “town hall” style meetings, even in bad times, will be able to keep in touch with the (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 13, 2011 No Comments
Adaptive leadership is a step up from other leadership skills. Typically the term is applied to leadership situations that involve neither technical nor operational issues. Issues that require a form of adaptive leadership are normally problems that do not have the clarity of an operational issue, as well as a lack of clear solutions. How you, as a leader, react to adaptive issues will set the tone for problem solving going forward. Let’s first look at specific qualities of adaptive issues, and then discuss some ways you can lead adaptively.
With adaptive issues, you may notice a difference between what the organization would like to see happen and the reality of the situation. This could come about when the organization tries to create its vision, knowing that quite a bit of work is needed to make the vision a reality. Adaptive issues are those that require responses that are outside the norm or outside of the box. If you cannot respond to an issue with the normal “tool box”, then the issue may require an adaptive stance. An adaptive issue may also require leadership to make tough decisions or decisions that are not so popular. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 27, 2011 No Comments
As most leaders know, management is a separate entity from leadership. Many organizational leaders have difficulty doing one and continuing to do the other. And management is sometimes still looked upon as an operational piece of the organization, so leaders believe that they should employ “managers” to manage and “leaders” to lead. There are a few basic leadership principles that you can use to look at the organization’s operations differently – and pass on to the other leaders and managers down the line.
First, you must take a different view of the organization’s operations. As people progress up the ladder, moving from line to management and then to more senior levels, they may begin to see operations as someone else’s responsibility. This is a leadership failure, so you should always see the understanding of operations as part of your job. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 22, 2009 No Comments
After reading this blog in the Seth Godin’s website, I could do nothing more than to share it with you. It has so many applications to training, leadership and every aspect of talent management. How many of you are working for companies in the death spiril? Enjoy.
| You’ve probably seen it. The fish monger sees a decline in business, so they have less money to spend on upkeep and inventory, so they keep the fish a bit longer and don’t clean up as often, so of course, business declines and then they have even less money… Eventually, you have an empty, smelly fish store that’s out of business.
The doctor has fewer patients so he doesn’t invest as much in training or staff and so some other patients choose to leave which means that there are even fewer patients…
The newspaper has fewer advertisers, so they can’t invest as much in running stories, so people stop reading it, which means advertisers have less reason to advertise which leaves less money for stories…
As Tom Peters says, “You can’t shrink your way to greatness,” and yet that’s what so many dying businesses try to do. They hunker down and wait for things to get better, but they don’t. This isn’t a dip, it’s a cul de sac. It’s over.
Right this minute, you still have some cash, some customers, some momentum… Instead of squandering it in a long, slow, death spiral, do something else. Buy a new platform. Move. Find new products for the customers that still trust you.
Change is a bear, but it’s better than death.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 2, 2009 No Comments
Why be just one of the crowd? Why suffer in silence because your voice is unable to be heard? Following the herd is the most sure fire way to be lost. Why is it then, that most of us are trapped in the herd of mediocrity. Why do we continue to conform to being average. Is there something that causes us to cluster toward the average, instead of stepping out into greatness?
I believe that many of us, individually and corporate, just don’t know how to break out and distinguish ourselves. Most of us are also fearful that if we do ‘dare to be different’ that we will appear to be foolish or weird.
What steps, both small and large, can you take to breakout and start out on the path less traveled. Here are a few steps that you can take that can point you in a new direction:
1. Dream a little. Most often, people have dreams and aspirations that we fail to act on. There was an credit card advertisement that once ran a list of dozen of things that people should do in their life. Why not extend that ideal to us personally. If you had the opportunity to be or do something different, what would you be or do if money, time, and all constraints were removed. Take the time to dream and write down what you want deep down.
For the corporate citizens, you can do this too. If you could move your company in to new directions, without fear of failure or cost or loss, what business or product would you wish to be in or produce.
2. Stop doing things that you don’t want to do. If you find that you are unhappy working at what you do, or are in a job or situation that is not leading you to personal fulfillment, just stop it. Change it. Do everything to eliminate this millstone around your neck.
3. Decide what is important. Does being accepted by others or stepping out into new light motivate you? This could be the most difficult thing. Deciding what’s important, really important, could be what you need to do to making a spectacular life vs. an ordinary life.
4. Take Action. Once you have dreamed of a life that you desire, eliminated efforts that are preventing your success, focusing on what is really important, execute your plan! Purposeful action is all that is usually required. It is not an overnight solution, but it will make your life the life you have envisioned.
Copyright 2009 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.
Bryant Nielson – Director of Learning & Development – offers 20+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a trainer, business & leadership coach, and strategic planner for many sales organizations. Bryant’s 27 year business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering.
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