There is a lot of discussion today about authenticity, about being trustworthy, and about being transparent. As a society, we say we want less ‘spin’, but is this just another case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’?
At the individual level, how does our attitude and our actions affect the relationships we have on a day-to-day basis? Does our behavior match our expectations?
How do you think your behavior affects your credibility?
I’m hosting Live2Lead, a large professional development event this week and have been doing heavy promotion for it through my network. While I’m biased towards action as it relates to professional development and personal growth, I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone believes the same I do; nor do I believe that my event is the only thing that matters on Oct. 9th.
As is the case, I’ve been getting a lot of excuses as to why people aren’t coming. I know sometimes excuses are legitimate and there are things that are more important to you than my event or program. However, some of the many excuses I’ve heard are ridiculous and have me questioning the credibility of those offering them.
Are we being authentic, trustworthy, and transparent when we turn down opportunities or invitations?
Maybe this is harsh, but these are actual excuses:
Excuse #1: I’m in charge of finding and introducing our Rotary speakers each Friday at our meetings so I probably shouldn’t miss the meeting.
I’m a Rotarian, have been for more than 7 years, and I’m very proud to be involved in such a great service organization – and I know how valuable a good program can be for a meeting. Even so, this is a task that can easily be delegated for one week (or all 52 like my club!).
How this affects your credibility (at least with me): You aren’t interested in my event (all good, not everyone is) but you don’t have the confidence to tell me straight up. Can I trust you to be honest and forthcoming with me in the future?
Excuse #2: A very worthy event which I would attend…but my silly company won’t spring for it.
I know what you’re thinking, but no this excuse didn’t come from a Millennial, but rather a business coach. It’s been said…
‘If you’re not willing to bet on yourself, why should anybody else?’
If you aren’t willing to invest in yourself, you’ll always be stuck giving bad excuses and wondering ‘What If’.
How this affects your credibility (at least with me): You don’t value yourself enough to invest in yourself and you only want something that will benefit you if someone else is willing to pay. Will you always only look out for yourself in potential future business relationships or future opportunities?
Excuse #3: It’s too far to drive.
This excuse came from a Millennial who would have to drive approximately 45 minutes (each way) on back roads and is part of the leadership team for a local young professional group. While I do my best not to stereotype, the fact a major company beyond this town and the college in the same town are sending team members, makes this excuse look foolish and epitomizes why Millennials have a bad reputation in some professional circles.
How this affects your credibility (at least with me): You’re lazy and lack awareness of the growing world economy where not everything is in the palm of your hands. Not sure you understand the importance of building relationships with people outside of a small circle within a small town. Is building a relationship with you and your organization worth the investment of my time?
When you think about these excuses, what about your own excuses?
Do we retain our credibility with our excuses, so our relationships can remain intact? Or do we damage our credibility with the excuses we offer?
While I’ve tried to, I always haven’t been; but I am committed to being more intentional as I move forward, because I want to be seen as a an authentic, trustworthy, and transparent business professional.
Will you join me?
PS – Another guy who doesn’t like excuses….Gary V.
Admit it, even though we know it’s bad for us, we go through the drive-thru more than we would like. I know I do.
We’re so busy with our lives, we don’t often take the time to sit down for a nice healthy meal, especially with the ones we love.
Often companies will do the same with their leadership and professional development programs, sending individuals to a one-day event once or twice a year and call it leadership development. It doesn’t work like that.
Those events are great (and I even host one each year!), but if that’s all you’re doing for your team, you’re doing it wrong…just ask your employees.
Why do companies do this? These are the most common excuses I hear:
1> We’re too busy!
What message are you sending to your team about their growth (and your company’s) that your focus is so short-sighted, you’re not willing to invest in your future? What happens to your company when the work you’re doing is no longer needed, has become obsolete and your team isn’t up to date on soft-skills, hard-skills, or technology? Everyone loses.
Are you sure you’re too busy? Or are you just distracted by the bright shiny objects, meaningless reports, and the status quo?
2> We don’t have the money!
Claiming not to have money in to invest in your team is really an indication of poor leadership and poor planning on behalf of company leaders.
This reminds me of an old joke:
CFO: What if we invest all this money into people, and they leave?
CEO: What if we don’t, and they stay?
Don’t be the company that doesn’t invest and then wonder why you’re not getting the results you’re looking for. Despite being told otherwise, ignorance is not bliss.
3> Our customers don’t care!
This is the worst excuse I’ve heard. If this is really true, that means you position your company on price, not value, and the customers you have will jump ship the moment a competitor offers a lower price.
Nobody wins in the race to the bottom, but if you think your customers don’t care, you’re currently sitting in first place.
As you’re planning for 2016, I challenge you to spend less time in the drive-thru with your teams and more time around the table. Your team will thank you for it, and the proof will be in the results.
When I launched the Goble Group and started down the path of entrepreneurship, I knew it was going to be challenging. I knew I wanted to focus on my family first, even if it meant the business would suffer a little bit. The business is going to turn 4 years old in March, only a few months younger than my daughter, and because of my family first approach, the business has suffered in some ways.
My kids are only young once, so I can unequivocally say it’s been worth it, but it’s been harder than I thought.
Here are four things (of many) I’ve learned.
— Don’t chase the money, you won’t catch it. If you don’t know why you’re doing something, you shouldn’t be doing it. Take the time to evaluate your true intentions before moving forward.
— Piss poor planning precedes poor performance. This doesn’t mean you need to write out a highly detailed, 70+ page business plan. That’s a waste of time. You do need to sit down and write out some basic ideas at least, and then be prepared to shift on the fly and improvise (a lot) when it’s called for.
— After doing this for a few years, and knowing the statistics show that 50% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years, I believe that folks reach their limit and then give up. Whether your limit is financial, psychological, or emotional, you have to know your limits.
–I’m blessed that my wife is on board (most of the time!) with the Goble Group. While she doesn’t share the same business mindset or risk tolerance that I do, she does support me and trusts that what I’m doing is the best for our family at the moment.
So, do you still want to be an entrepreneur? I hope you do, just know that it’s going to be harder than you think it is…but it will be worth it when you succeed.
Most of us have run across opportunities that seemed too good to be true. It might have been a good looking used car or a great price on a previously owned computer.
We’re often tempted to jump in immediately. We “love” that car (or computer)! However, if we slow down and dig deeper, we might find that pretty car has a suspect motor. We might find that previously owned computer has a bad hard drive. Or that both are in good shape and worth the investment – and the risk.
Companies – and teams and divisions of companies – run across opportunities that seem too good to be true, as well. Some companies jump at those opportunities without digging deeper. Some refuse to engage in those opportunities. Some dig deeper and jump in – while some dig deeper and do not pursue those possibly shady scenarios.
How can leaders know if an opportunity is shady or not? How can they assess if an opportunity aligns with the organization’s brand and reputation as well as with it’s performance expectations?
Assessing that risk is much easier when your organization – or team or department – has formalized its values. When values are clear, decision making is easy!
Let’s look at an organization with very clear values and remarkable performance. Garry Ridge, CEO of the WD-40 Companies, has crafted a high performing, values aligned global organization. Soon after he became CEO, Garry implemented a process to clarify WD-40’s purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals. He crafted an organizational constitution for all WD-40 tribe leaders and members.
Ethical behavior – “doing the right thing” – is one of WD-40’s top values. Garry told me of one opportunity that was presented to them. “We could have made millions of dollars on the product, but discovered that known cancer-causing chemicals were in the product’s formula,” Garry said. “We walked away. The money wasn’t worth the risk to our customers’ health.”
A different global company, the world’s biggest retailer, is today battling a huge scandal. Walmart is under investigation for bribing Mexican officials (to the tune of millions of dollars) to speed expansion of stores in that country. Walmart does have defined beliefs and principles that promise integrity in every interaction. It looks to this outsider that profits drove unethical behavior, inconsistent with the company’s principles. We’ll learn more as the investigation proceeds.
Make “doing the right thing” easier for all leaders and team members. Formalize your company or team values and desired behaviors in an organizational constitution – then align all behaviors and practices to it.
To learn more about creating an organizational constitution and managing to one, get your free sample chapter of my upcoming book, The Culture Engine.
S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year career leading and managing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies. Chris provides high-impact keynotes, executive briefings, and executive consulting. He is the author of six books, including Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn how to craft workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution in Chris’ new book, The Culture Engine, which launches on September 29, 2014. His blog, podcasts, free assessments, research, and videos can be found @ http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com.
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