Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. They will appreciate you, and you might learn something!
Leadership coaching for software development managers
“Hey – You can’t park there. You idiot – can’t you see the signs? I’m trying to run a business here!”
Oh wait – that’s exactly NOT what Duck Dynasty CEO Willie Robertson said to me.
My kids love to watch Duck Dynasty. The show is a light-hearted silly look at a small business run by a bunch of fun-loving family guys who like to blow stuff up. It’s perfect for my teen and pre-teen boys, and it’s a favorite at our house.
We’re on a big family road trip and we passed through West Monroe LA – the headquarters of the Duck Dynasty business. Just for fun we decided to drop into the Duck Commander offices and visit the gift shop.
When we pulled up outside, we were shocked to see Willie Robertson, the “CEO” of the multi-million dollar family business standing outside greeting visitors.
Now Duck Commander is big business. These guys have patents on the design of duck calls – a big niche market. They also sell deer hunting related products. In addition, the family stars in a break out hit “reality” TV show, and recently sponsored a big NASCAR race – the Duck Commander 500.
As we pulled up in our enormous Sprinter van, we were stunned to see Willie standing outside shaking hands with fans.
Not wanting to miss our #BrushWithFame, and a photo op – I offered to drop off Holly and some of the older kids in the “no parking” area. When I stopped the van, Willie could have easily chewed me out, but instead he said
“Hi! That’s a pretty nice vehicle you’ve got there.”
Encouraged by Willie’s greeting, I put the van in park, got out and unbuckled my three year old.
JD – Willie’s assistant – took my camera from he he commented
“This is a big part of my job these days. I’m pretty good at it, now.”
As I worked on getting all of the kids to line up. I noticed that Willie talking to my 3 year old as my wife held Noah in her arms.
We spent just a few moments with him, but there are three takeaways I have about leadership from that encounter.
I’m sure that Willie had about a thousand things more “business related” than standing in the hot Louisiana sun shaking hands with fans.
As much of a goofy leader as he appears to be on the TV show, Willie knows that his success is tied to other people. He’s spending a LOT of time pressing the flesh and taking pictures with fans and guests. That’s as much his job as it is making sure that the duck call manufacturing is happening.
Willie made it a priority to make a connection with my 3 year old. He asked him questions and smiled warmly at his answers.
Why? Because Willie even values people who cannot buy stuff from him.
(And Noah’s mom really likes it when people value her kids, too!)
During our brief connection, I mentioned his marketing strategy, and that’s how he responded. Willie knows his fame is fleeting, and he has to take action immediately to maximize his impact.
For Willie, “making hay” included taking the time to connect with us personally.
Think Willie’s strategy worked? We left the store with a big bag of souvenirs, and a great memory of getting a photo with him.
There are three common approaches to strategic planning.
All of them are a complete waste of time, money and effort.
Seriously. The biggest waste of money is no plan at all.
Today I’m reviewing a client’s proposed “strategic plan.”
Most of the time when I work with a client on this, their original plan looks a little like this:
The “plan” is to have each department come up with a list of
Each functional team creates a mind-numbing detail-filled PowerPoint deck which they will be given an hour to present during the “planning meeting.”
This one feels better than no plan at all, but it’s still a waste.
People work really hard to try to communicate status and plan, and yet they end up leaving everyone’s brain spinning with all the minute details of everything that each department thinks they will do if the stars align.
This simply does not work.
This one is a favorite, too. We all get together in a room and
This provides an interesting thought exercise, but a lack of structure leads to a “new, innovative strategy” but no action is taken. It’s a waste.
Research shows that 90% of all strategic planning efforts are a complete waste of money!
If your strategy doesn’t matter – let’s say you’re a goldfish, and your strategy consists of swimming in circles, then don’t worry about doing strategic planning.
If you’re not a goldfish, you probably want to make plan.
A great strategic plan includes
A strong tie to action is the key to successful strategic planning.
This can be hard, but it is completely doable!
You know you need a good plan, and you’re ready to take action. Here are 2 possible approaches
Take this list above and create the agenda for your strategic planning meeting
I have a client who invested in a strategic planning session. It REALLY worked. They worked better as a team and achieved a lot of the ideas that they had been thinking about.
The next year they said “We know what to do now. Let’s take the plan from last year and revise it. We’ll save all that consulting money we paid to the coach!”
Guess what? They didn’t “get around to doing the plan” and the next year, they had not made any progress. They knew what to do, and didn’t have the discipline to do it on their own.
For their upcoming fiscal year they have allocated budget dollars to get some help.
I can help you
Companies that succeed do it through a disciplined process.
I’d love to help you move forward with more of this:
and less of this:
Or – you can find the full catalog of my services here:
We were sitting around the convergence room table during the sales pipeline meeting when suddenly Gary exploded in response to something Frank said.
You told Jack WHAT? What the hell were you thinking!?!?! Why did you tell Jack we could help them with that? We don’t even DO that!
The profanity-laced tirade went on for several minutes. The tension in the room built as Gary unpacked his frustrations on a stunned Frank.
At first, Frank attempted to sputter a response. This seemed only to fuel Gary’s anger. Cowed by the personal attacks, eventually Frank settled into sitting in silence, enduring the tongue lashing he “deserved” for doing something that Gary thought was stupid.
This was not the first time this had happened. I, too, had been the recipient of one of Gary’s attacks. It was awful. Every. Time. Awful for the target and for each of us around the table. Based on our experience, we recognized that the fastest way to bring it to a close was to sit down, shut up, and hang on.
After Gary unloaded, it was over for him, and he returned to work as if nothing unusual had happened.
We could not be certain whether Gary would approve or reject our ideas, and we didn’t feel safe asking for his input because we could not predict whether he might unload on us. If we got great results, Gary was usually thrilled. (Sometimes he didn’t seem to notice or care.) If our results didn’t come – or didn’t come fast enough – he would sometimes be supportive, other times he would be furious. We could never tell what would happen.
Should I have had the moral courage to stand up to Gary? To tell him the truth? Perhaps. Should I have quit? Probably. Frankly I was afraid of him. He controlled my livelihood. If he wanted me gone I would immediately move to the ranks of the “unemployed.” My wife and kids depended on his whims.
As a result I rarely challenged him, rarely spoke up. I played it safe. So did almost everyone else. He didn’t see that. At all.
The really sick part was that Gary asked me over and over again why he could not motivate people to “get off their butts and take initiative.” He was sincere, but not ready to hear the answer.
He really saw no connection between his occasional eruptions and the impact on team members. It was a sad thing.
It was sadder still because at the core, Gary was a decent guy. He was passionate about his business and about his people. Gary really cared about team members as people, and it tore him up to see them struggling through personal issues.
Gary simply didn’t see the pain HE caused.
This problem is solvable. Working together, we can help people begin to build a safe, productive, trustworthy environment. You’ll be amazed at how much faster work can get done. How much more innovation can happen.
Do your people make you nuts? Want to talk about it? Give me a call. If I can help, we can talk about next steps. No obligation, no sales pitch. Just a listening ear.
In this CEO Essentials Podcast, We’ll hear from Ian Altman from Grow My Revenue.
We talk about:
* Why your customers need you to tell them about the problems you solve (not product features)
* How an “elevator rant” is MUCH better for sales than an “elevator pitch”
* A simple formula to help your customers know when it’s time to buy (now!)
Check out Ian’s simple, one page worksheet to uncover critical sales keys for your clients
Before Ian founded Grow My Revenue he served as CEO of technology and professional services companies for two decades before selling them.
He then served as Managing Director of a parent company that he grew from $100 million in revenue to two billion in just three years. Ian’s also the author of “Upside Down Selling,” an Amazon number one best seller. His book helps audiences discover how to flip the sales process upside down to become outrageously successful in targeting winning business.
Ian’s work is published regularly on Huffington Post and the Washington Business Journal and you can find his stuff at GrowMyRevenue.com.
About the Podcast
We host a podcast focused on the essentials of leadership. We interview experts and publish a new podcast every few weeks on topics like project management, sales, marketing, leadership development, and so much more.
Don’t miss out! Sign up here for future podcast episodes to be delivered to you as soon as they are released! (You can also find the podcast in iTunes)
Carl shared his “Top 10” list – a Risk Management 10 step checklist – Pritchard Management Associates – to help you know what you need to do when it comes to managing your risks. A Big Thank you to Carl for that!
Carl Pritchard is the “Risk Guy.” He’s written two books on risk…the most recent is the Risk Management Memory Jogger with Karen Tate by QPC Press. He lectures, consults and trains around the world on the topic. He also has the unusual reputation of making risk management FUN! He is the principal and founder of Pritchard Management Associates and holds certifications in project management, risk management and earned value.
About the Podcast
We host a podcast focused on the essentials of leadership. We interview experts and publish a new podcast every few weeks on topics like project management, sales, marketing, leadership development, and so much more. Don’t miss out! Sign up here for future podcast episodes to be delivered to you as soon as they are released! (You can also find the podcast in iTunes)