As a leader, one of the things you’re responsible for is increasing the creativity for you and your team.
Settling on Solutions
As leaders, our natural disposition can be to settle on solutions. That’s leadership, right? We know the problem, tackle the solution, and keep pushing forward.
In fact, quite the opposite is true.
Leaders who are expected to know and have all the answers create two primary problems.
First, they limit the effectiveness and full potential of their teams.
Second, they are subject to burnout.
Because of this, a large part of great leadership is not just about providing answers but creating an environment where our team can come up with better ones. Increacsing creativity happens thorugh an intentional delay.
Instead of seeking answers to questions like, “What’s probable?” as a question like, “What’s possible?”
Creativity is about “What’s Possible”
One of the necessary shifts in leadership thinking is to encourage and facilitate questions around what’s possible.
Instead of moving to solution-oriented ideas and tasks, entertain possibilities of the wild and extravagant.
Imagine a customer writing your business praising you for your new product that helped them. What did they say, feel, or experience? Once you know what that end destination is, then you can work backwards to create the product you just visualized.
Pretend a new company pops up and exploits your weaknesses, what would they do? Now that you know your biggest weaknesses, you can discover new ways to beat them.
Plan how you would operate your business if you were operating at ten times your current profit margin. Once you are aware of that, continue the discovery processes by dreaming up those new products and services. Start testing those and implement big change.
Implementing a creative making process for your team or organization benefits everyone.
The team will be more productive.
Your customers will have a better experience.
The community will experience greater blessing.
You will have less stress and more productivity.
However the process looks for you, take time to implement that creative process time
Bring together multiple disciplines.
Research seemingly unrelated fields or areas of interest.
One of the biggest shifts I see young entrepreneurs and business owners need to make is in their belief in understanding that they are a salesperson.
They might be visionaries, great leaders, product developers, weekend grinders, but they are not (at least in their belief) a sales person.
Guess what: if you don’t sell your product, no one is going to buy it!
Sales is what your company does to make a person give you money for a product they want … The sales process requires a complete knowledge of the product that the company is offering, and needs to be defined by the service standards and criteria that the company has set.*
The Death of a Salesman
I’ve shared on the blog before the early explosion of my coaching practice. In short, I saw quick growth in a short amount of time. Within the first year of coaching I had exceeded my regular income.
I let it go to my head.
I stopped marketing, stopped networking, and stopped advertising (all things we’ll look at in the next post of this series).
The result was inevitable: I also stopped selling. As I finished up with my clients, I had no pipeline to refill, no prospects to call, and no income to replace what was lost. By the end of my second year, I was down to one regular client.
I failed to follow my own advice and never once told myself, “You are a salesman.” I didn’t want to sell myself, my products, or my services. And so I sold nothing.
I found broke.
That led to being miserable.
Eventually, I vowed to change.
Listen. Share. Offer.
Recently, I was at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned. It was my first trip to this dentist, and we were making the usual awkward small talk while he dug around my mouth.
Inevitably, he asked me what I did for a living.
I work with small business owners like yourself focus on getting the right things done to maximize their business and personal lives through executive coaching and HR solutions.
It’s a question I’ve answered a thousand different times. I play with the wording depending on the situation to make sure it has maximum impact.
He sat quiet for a second. Pull away from my gaping mouth, scribbled something on the notes, and went back to work.
Now, I don’t know if he wrote a note to call me later to talk business, but I do know he spend a good portion of the rest of the time talking about how busy he was and how hard it can be to get everything done. At the very least, I’d touched a nerve that made him aware of how I could help.
Most of the time, my answer follows three easy steps to help me know how to talk to the other person, initiate low-pressure sales, and move the conversation forward.
First, I start with listening. I know how to shape a conversation and usually get to ask what the other person does for a living first. This time, I already knew (dentist), and had to guess at what some of his pain points might be.
But the important thing is to start with listening. Open your ears. Shut your mouth. Let the other person describe themselves, problems, hopes, dreams, fears, and family. You’ll learn quite a bit and have a good platform to engage them from.
Find a way to share about yourself. Your family, your own hopes, dreams, fears, and wild goals. Then share what you do, and if applicable, find a way to share how it could help them.
Above, I offered this, because I know what it’s like being a businness owner and having a wide range of needs on a day to day basis. He ended up telling me quite a bit about his struggle in balancing work and family, kids, grandkids, employees, and medical records. We have similar pain points and struggles. I knew I could help.
*It’s also worth noting that sometimes you may not be able to help a person. In these situations, don’t force your product unnecessarily and don’t assume they aren’t a worthwhile contact to have. Just because you can’t solve their problem doesn’t mean you can’t solve their siblings, parents, friends, or neighbors.*
The final step is to offer your services. Sometimes this happens right away, especially if I feel like I stand a good chance at closing. I tried this recently and closed a great deal for early next year.
Sometimes, it’s an offer to follow up. Networking events can be difficult to engage in deep-level business talks. Schedule a coffee or offer to come by their office.
Othertimes, it’s also a chance to keep the door open. The time may not be right, but they might know someone. I have a list of people that I will probably never do business with (for a variety of reasons). With them, I keep in touch every couple of months to check in, start a conversation, and see what’s changed. I may not get their business but I may just get business from someone they know.
Offering to stay in touch is a salesperson gold mine.
As business owners, we are the visionaries. We believe in our product more than anyone. That makes us the chief salesperson in our organization, whether we run a show that is just us, of a team of 100 people building a thriving business.
No matter your work.
No matter your product.
As a business owner you are a salesperson.
Eight Core Concepts
This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.
One of the hardest parts of entrepreneurship is creating a viable product. It should be simple right? You have a great idea, convinced that it will change the world, so what could go wrong?
The reality is that a lot could. Great products, one that people don’t just purchase, but actually use and eventually rave about, all have one thing in common: they solve problems.
One of the most common things I tell my clients, and any would-be entrepreneur, is that if people aren’t buying your product, you aren’t solving a problem. This is true whether you have a tangible product like a phone case or a conceptual one like coaching. Whether I physically give you the product or I am the product, a viable product will always solve a problem.
Creating A Viable Product
I’ve found that the easiest way for me to understand product is to get back to its original meaning. A product is a predictable unit of value.*
Great products, as I’ve already said, solve problems.
Marcus Whitney says that they provide a predictable unit of value.
We see this in everyday scenarios. I need the internet to publish this post. Currently, ATT has solved that problem with reliable internet in my home office. I know exactly what I will pay for this service every month.
If, however, that internet starts to fail and I only get internet for fifteen days of the month, or ten days out of the month, I don’t get that predictable unit of value. Now all of a sudden, I’m looking at other competitors to see if they can solve my problem – internet – at a predictable (and reliable) price.
This works with service-based products as well. I could tell you how the average coaching client saves time and money while improving performance. People engaged in coaching relationships also show higher levels of emotional intelligence, grit, and overall life satisfaction. They also tend to make more money – for their companies and for themselves.
So if I could, through data and research, show you how paying $10,000 for coaching could, on average, make you $100,000 … would you sign up for coaching?
I’m no manufacturing genius, but I do understand human performance. There are some certain elements we have to have in order to nail our own growth, our own optimization, our own viable personal product.
Here are three ways to improve your own performance in your quest for growth.
1.) Tie Your Problem (And The Solution) to the Desired Effect or Feeling.
Recently, I was having a conversation with one of our children about exercise. We talked about why it’s important to do, even when we don’t feel like it. We get emotional, physical, and mental advantages. It gives us energy, improves overall performance, and is a key aid in living longer.
I shared how one of the struggles I’ve had recently is the desire to workout. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I wanted to workout. In spite of that, I’m outside six days a week doing it anyway.
The shift was tying it to the desired outcome. I wanted to have the energy to play with my kids, build science projects, complete a full day of work, and a whole variety of other things. It’s those goals that keep me going.
Similarly, there will be an aspect of your own growth where you need to do it, even if you don’t want to. Maybe you hate networking events. Find a way to tie the task you don’t want to do (networking) with something you do (a date night, new video game, or your favorite caffeinated drink).
2.) Give Yourself Some Accountability.
I recently printed and published my 2021 goals for my vision board. As I’m slowly assembling them into the final product, it’s become a visible event to everyone in the house. They know exactly what I’m committing myself to.
They have permission to ask me how I’m doing at any time.
Additionally, I have a few people who know my goals and regularly check in.
It’s a key component to continued growth: the pressure of other people watching.
Whether you’re trying to start a product-based business or a service-based business, have some accountability. Share your goal with others and have them check-in to make sure you’re putting in the work.
3.) Don’t Be Afraid To Fail.
Most products don’t get it right the first time. Even those that we would consider a success (like the iPod) continually strive to get better.
Many of those will fail along the way. Failure is often a key component of learning.
In your own growth, personally or professionally, don’t be afraid to fail. That’s how you get better, gain clarity, remain focused, and achieve excellence.
Eight Core Concepts
This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.
We’re continuing our look at Marcus Whitney’s Book Create and Orchestrate and how you as the owner need to spend time growing your business.
If you missed any of the previous posts, don’t worry, links are at the bottom.
Growth is about understanding that change is always happening. You can and should drive and leverage change to realize the vision and live out the values of the company.*
Reinvestment, Anticipation, Innovation
While highlights the need for growth under the three ideas of reinvestment, anticipation, and innovation. His focus on core aspects of your business are helpful, below I’ll use those ideas to talk about how we approach the same topics throughout coaching.
In life and business, reinvestment is primarily about the daily habits and routines we build into your schedule for success.
Reinvestment asks questions like:
Did you give your best effort towards getting better today?
What goals did you accomplish?
What new goals did you set?
How were you successfully able to eliminate distraction and do something of significance?
Throughout coaching, I highlight the need for these basic elements of our own growth. Many of my clients already know I’m going to ask these sorts of questions, even before I do. It becomes ingrained in the way we think during our times together.
Growing your business is about making small daily deposits of success, consistency, and routine. Otherwise, you will never achieve larger breakthroughs.
Anticipation is about your future self as much as it’s about the future market.
When I started coaching, my focus was exclusively on leadership health and burnout. Part of that was my own circumstance at the time. I was in an organization that consistently produced burned out leaders and I wanted to avoid that trend.
But it was also partly cultural. I started coaching as the U.S. economy was still feeling the lingering effects of the 2008 market crash. While in many ways we were ‘out of it’ by the time I started coaching, many individuals were still terrified and afraid. They were still recovering financially and were scared that something else might happen.
This made them extraordinarily open to talks of leadership health and sustainability, especially my focus on all areas of life.
As the economy recovered, I began to focus more on small business and HR needs. Again, both a personal decision and a cultural one.
It wasn’t that the need for leadership health was gone, but for many a strong economy hid the need to talk about it.
The current pandemic and economic collapse (and the resulting questions) have seen a large uptick in conversations around leadership health. People again are afraid and unable to mask their worry and anxiety.
I’ve had a number of individuals reach out to me about leadership health, including one organization who basically said, “We’re all hurting and can’t keep going on for much longer.” The long drawn-out year of 2020 has revealed the deep need for total leadership health.
Anticipation for me was preparing for this months ago and being ready to step in and offer coaching and consulting to these individuals and businesses. Your own anticpation needs might be different, but you can start by asking questions like:
What events, meetings, or opportunities are ahead of me in the next six to twelve months?
Who will I need to be to make those things happen?
How are my current behaviors limiting or enhancing my growth opportunities?
Growing your business starts by growing yourself and addressing your own needs first. Reaching your full potential allows you to serve others more.
In coaching, innovation is finding new ways to meet current needs.
As a business coach, I often tell young entrepreneurs that if people aren’t buying their product, they aren’t meeting people’s needs. Unfortunately, it’s just that simple.
We’ve seen a huge growth in the online education market, and rightfully so. Gone are the days of needing to be present for live or in-class training. Now, the convenience and adaptability of online learning make this decision a no brainer.
But smart entrepreneurs are already asking, “What’s next?” Online learning is the new, current, and necessary trend. But something will be next? Keeping an eye on upcoming methods of delivery, education, product placement, and advertising will keep facilitating steady growth in growing your business.
Welcome to the LeaderQuest Podcast. This season will consist of interviews conducted for the Building With Purpose Conference I held back in May. This is Episode 20 – My Interview with Michael Warden.
If you failed to register for the full course, stay tuned for the rest of season two! I’ve got interviews coming up with each of the contributors. You’ll be able to glean wisdom from them and apply them in ways to grow yourself and your business.
For the conference, I assembled a diverse team of business professionals to examine the stay at home order and how we can achieve maximum productivity and success while in quarantine. The conference focused on the front of a newly issued stay-at-home order. Now, four months later, it seems all the more timely as the economy is looking to reopen.
This is Episode 21 – My Interview with Mitch Matthews.
More About Mitch
In this episode, I’m having a conversation with Mitch Matthews. He is a life and business coach focusing on success, performance, and chasing dreams. Having worked personally with Mitch and seeing the effects he’s had on my business, I was thrilled to have him at the conference. His wisdom, insight, and passion for life and contagious.
Be sure to subscribe, leave a comment, and share with someone who could benefit.
What’s one takeaway you have from Episode 21 and my interview with Mitch from the Building With Purpose Conference? How will you take control of your business’s future?
Mitch’s passion for life and the empowerment of others is infectious. In the midst of COVID, many businesses are struggling. Many are questioning how to chase their dreams. Mitch is clear proof that you can do just that, with a deep sense of awe and wonder in life.