It’s time to take the next evolutionary step on the path of leadership-business success. While the step seems obvious, as many have noted common sense is often quite uncommon. More than ever organizations and businesses need to initiate new and varied approaches to connecting and collaborating with their customers and employees, especially by proactively soliciting their feedback and ideas. Yet, too often many business owners or key decision-makers are hesitant. Others will harangue you with: “I’m wrestling with the bottom line; I don’t have time for that soft stuff!” Or even worse, they rationalize that the moment’s not right or simply believe that it will be easier to put these new ideas into practice tomorrow, forgetting that tomorrow never comes. Of course, some folks subscribe to that “live for the moment” mantra: "Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off NOW!" Alas, these digital daze, there are many folks, not just Californians, for whom instant gratification takes way too long.
Seriously, though, when it comes to avoidance or procrastination many are quick to acknowledge the problem and, of course, are slow to do something about it. However, you can overcome inertia by clearly understanding key mind barriers that keep individuals and organizations from fully embracing and embarking on that high task and high touch path. The right blend of insight, imagination and action builds the roadmap for success. So if knowledge is empowering and you’re ready to perceive with fresh eyes, have a more open and adventurous heart beat, and want to move smartly into a new innovative gear… Here are the “Top Ten Obstacles" to improving leadership-business performance, partnership and profitability – distractions keeping you from taking your organization To The MAX:
1. Time Pressures. "Where are we going to find the time to do this?" We're already overloaded!" An often understandable lament, however the question really does deserve to be high on your priority list. First, not integrating new approaches into your operational procedures may well have a greater financial cost than you realize; it may also be draining your energy resources and capacity for focused concentration. Likely lurking in your subconscious is that proverbial gorilla in the room you keep trying to wish away. In addition, have these time pressures contributed to operational error, dropping the ball or even to staff turnover?
Doing a time management audit has two advantages: you may discover the difference between “urgent and important.” Remember, urgent really is life and death; everything else can be prioritized. Also, by stepping back from the temporal tempest, you just may discover a way to streamline some of the process, with a dividend of energy and clarity for experimenting and integrating anew.
2. Stress Overload. Clearly, time pressure generates stress: first comes “brain strain,” then fatigue, maybe exhaustion and cynicism, and, if the adrenaline overload is chronic, and you’re still trying to be the Lone Ranger or Rangerette…welcome to the burnout battlefront. Then again, the problem is not just one of burning out. Are you on the verge of burning up or blowing up? The patience fuse is getting shorter and shorter and the people around you are feeling the heat and sparks.
Conversely, chronic stress makes some folks “hunker in their bunker” – they become more conservative, withdrawn and less confident in their thinking, communicating and problem analysis. You might consider a long getaway weekend at a health spa. More than simply a “stress brake,” you have the opportunity to relax and free your conscious and unconscious mind enough to take an “incubation vacation” – to refresh your focus and hatch a new perspective.
3. Lacking Perspective and Experience. Some business leaders have little or no experience as a frontline employee. They lack understanding about the implied contract and set of expectations that many employees bring to the workplace. Such expectations and beliefs include:
a. I’m depending on you to provide me with tools and resources to effectively perform my job,
b. I’m trusting you to make the right business decisions that sustain the business, your customers and your employees,
c. I am counting on you to value and recognize our contributions to organizational success and pave the way for pay raises, promotions, and new avenues for growth, for offering those organizational IRAs --Incentives, Recognition-Rewards and Advancement Opportunities.
4. Are You Going the Way of the Dinosaur? More than ever, a successful leader and business owner must be customer-attuned to be savvy. In a 24/7 wired world, where customers have so many more purchase options and venues to choose from, potential buyers desire the chance to interact and to dialogue – both electronically and face-to-face. Having potential buyers part of the product, purchase and post-purchase process, even engaged with a community of customers, is increasingly essential for companies that want to generate and keep customer business. Otherwise, with a click of a button your customer is off to the next option. Today, business as usual must be business that’s visible, virtual and mutual.
5. Underdeveloped Emotional Intelligence. Many people go into business based on experience and expertise in a technical-, engineering-, numbers-driven-, product-development- or manufacturing-related field, where logical and analytical cognitive skills along with personal ambition and competitive drive seemed sufficient to determine performance outcomes. However, success in such a role doesn’t necessarily nurture the social-emotional mindset and skill-set essential for relating to and connecting with a diversified group of customers and employees.
Today’s business owner must develop and demonstrate a capacity for “Emotional Intelligence” – a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance -- that is, the ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of oneself, of others and of groups (Wikipedia). Daniel Goleman, the acclaimed pioneer of EI, posits four main constructs:
a. Self-awareness – the ability to read one's emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions
b. Self-management – the ability to control one's emotions and impulses and adapt to changing circumstances
c. Social awareness – the ability to sense, understand, and react to others' emotions while comprehending social networks
d. Relationship management – the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.
So remember, along with a quality product and/or service, a capacity for honest self-awareness and human connection -- that is, an ability to not only walk in people’s shoes but also, and especially, to feel their bunions, soften their calluses as well as encourage and help guide their journey -- increasingly is the foundation for today’s successful organizational or business venture.
Stay tuned to Part II. Until then...Practice Safe Stress!
Mark Gorkin, the Stress Doc ™, acclaimed Keynote and Kickoff Speaker, Webinar Presenter, Retreat Leader and Motivational Humorist, is the author of Practice Safe Stress and The Four Faces of Anger. A former Stress & Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, the Doc leads highly interactive, innovative and inspiring programs for corporations and government agencies, including the US Military, on stress resiliency/burnout prevention through humor, change and conflict management, generational communication, and 3 "R" -- Responsible, Resilient & Risk-Taking -- leadership-partnership team building. See his award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" -- www.stressdoc.com -- called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR). For more info on the Doc's "Practice Safe Stress" programs or to receive his free e-newsletter, email [email protected] or call 301-875-2567.
Jeff Peden, The Great Ideas! Guy(sm), is an International Speaker and author of Take It To The MAX-The Ultimate Strategy for Maximizing Profits and Growth. He works with organizations on leadership & organizational development, employee engagement, and customer loyalty. Jeff can be reached at [email protected]