Are you coachable?

May 5, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

This is a tough question for many entrepreneurial leaders. Chances are, you started your own business to be captain of your own ship – to do it your way. Coachable? Why should you be coachable? The answer is simple… you don’t have all the answers and getting better at what you do and how you lead is non-negotiable. If you’re saying, “Duh, tell me something I don’t know,” we’re on the same page. But here’s the rub. What happens when leaders “say” they want to get better, attend seminars, read all the latest business books, and even hire a coach? Too often what I see is lots of time and money going in and the same old leader coming out.
I’ve spent the bulk of my career teaching and coaching owners and leaders. I’m proud to say that I’ve seen many of my clients grow into no-compromise leaders running great companies. I’ve also seen a disturbing number of leaders who, driven by the best intentions, are just not coachable. They’re stuck in counterproductive behaviors that keep their companies in a seemingly perpetual state of springing leaks. Cash-flow challenges, employee turnover, drama, blaming, always the victim, and worst of all, denial to confront the reality they created.
FACT: The best leaders are coachable. More importantly, just like Tiger Woods who demands excellence in his golf game, they have coaches. They put their shields down and egos aside for one basic reason – to get better. They are 100% no compromise because 99% is pure compromise. In doing so, they rise above all others.
Here are some red-hot strategies to get coachable:
* Take ownership of the challenges, issues and problems in your company. Like it or not, as leader you played a role in creating what you don’t like because of what you did or didn’t do. First you’ve got to own it – then you can fix it. It’s that simple.
* After you own it, put your shields down and accept the gift of feedback and knowledge from those you lead and those who coach you. Confronting reality is nothing more than taking the first steps on a long journey. It’s what you do during the journey that counts.
* Try it, do it, execute it, engage in it, tweak it – until you master it. Coachable leaders do what they agree and say they will do. Their commitment and word is an ironclad contract that it will get done. Both coaching and leadership rest on a foundation of trust – trust that what is said gets done.
Becoming a coachable leader is easier than you think. But you must want it bad enough and be willing to accept it. The rewards in terms of fulfillment, accomplishment and success are beyond your wildest dreams. Just remember, 100% no compromise because 99% is pure compromise.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies Founder & CEO
This is a tough question for many entrepreneurial leaders. Chances are, you started your own business to be captain of your own ship – to do it your way. Coachable? Why should you be coachable? The answer is simple… you don’t have all the answers and getting better at what you do and how you lead is non-negotiable. If you’re saying, “Duh, tell me something I don’t know,” we’re on the same page. But here’s the rub. What happens when leaders “say” they want to get better, attend seminars, read all the latest business books, and even hire a coach? Too often what I see is lots of time and money going in and the same old leader coming out.
I’ve spent the bulk of my career teaching and coaching owners and leaders. I’m proud to say that I’ve seen many of my clients grow into no-compromise leaders running great companies. I’ve also seen a disturbing number of leaders who, driven by the best intentions, are just not coachable. They’re stuck in counterproductive behaviors that keep their companies in a seemingly perpetual state of springing leaks. Cash-flow challenges, employee turnover, drama, blaming, always the victim, and worst of all, denial to confront the reality they created.
FACT: The best leaders are coachable. More importantly, just like Tiger Woods who demands excellence in his golf game, they have coaches. They put their shields down and egos aside for one basic reason – to get better. They are 100% no compromise because 99% is pure compromise. In doing so, they rise above all others. (more…)
This is a tough question for many entrepreneurial leaders. Chances are, you started your own business to be captain of your own ship – to do it your way. Coachable? Why should you be coachable? The answer is simple… you don’t have all the answers and getting better at what you do and how you lead is non-negotiable. If you’re saying, “Duh, tell me something I don’t know,” we’re on…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

My No-Compromise Leadership book: a brief history

April 28, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

I wrote the first outline for No-Compromise Leadership in March 2005. I wrote the bulk of the book by Fall of 2006. Rewrites on the first third of the book were done early 2006. At 61,078 words, I stopped writing and the book sat untouched until March 2008. I was frustrated.
My goal was to write a book worthy of sitting alongside great business books like Jack Stack’s The Great Game of Business and Jim Collins’ Good to Great. But something was missing and preventing the words I needed to finish the manuscript. It was me. I allowed compromise to get in my way – to degrade my confidence. How could I write a book on no-compromise leadership if I felt compromise in myself as a leader. No compromise has a simple definition: If needs to be done, it gets done. No excuses.
For anyone close to Strategies, you know that I took a three-month sabbatical in 2007. I needed to regroup and rethink my goals and intentions. I returned to work last September and began reengineering not only my company, but myself as a leader. Simply put, compromise gave way to a new and wildly empowering no-compromise culture and behavior at Strategies. By December of 2007, Strategies was a new and highly invigorating company. Everything became easier and faster. I re-awakened the no-compromise leader within me and, almost instantly, amazing things started to happen. New business flowed to us. New ideas and shared responsibility created incredible lift. Everyone felt it and still does. No-compromise leadership was the difference – and it began with me.
Fast forward to March 17th. I was on a flight from Edmonton, Alberta, to Chicago. I was flying home after presenting at a show with an old friend and author, Dr. Lew Losoncy. I decided to open my computer and show Lew the cover design for No-Compromise Leadership. He flipped and told me he was calling his publisher about my book. That night, Lew called me with instructions to call his publisher, Dennis McClellan at DC Press. I called Dennis the following day and sent him the cover, page designs and, of course, the manuscript. Needless to say, I was nervous as only a few had seen the entire book. Was it worthy? That was my burning question.
About two weeks passed without a word. I was on pins and needles. Then, on April 10th, I received an e-mail from the publisher that said, “I read your book cover-to-cover. This book needs to be published.”
Right now, we’re working on finishing the cover and adding quotes.  To begin creating buzz for No-Compromise Leadership, the publisher is going to show a near-complete mock-up of the book at the BookExpo American show in Los Angeles the end of May.
No-Compromise Leadership will be on bookstore shelves this December. Woo hoo!
Here is one quote that truly stopped me in my tracks:
“In the multitude of business books available through the years, No-Compromise Leadership stands out for its clarity and usefulness. If I could only have five business books on my shelf this would be one of them. After 15 years at Southwest Airlines and 35 years of working with other high performance teams, I have seen Neil’s four business outcomes and BIG 8 Drivers at work among the highest achievers. No-Compromise Leadership is the difference between high performance and mediocrity. And, you get a smattering of Neilisms as a bonus. You will want all your people to read, execute and live the no-compromise mantra.”
Terry “Moose” Millard,
Former Southwest Airlines Pilot
and Expert on Corporate Culture
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies Founder & CEO

I wrote the first outline for No-Compromise Leadership in March 2005. I wrote the bulk of the book by Fall of 2006. Rewrites on the first third of the book were done early 2006. At 61,078 words, I stopped writing and the book sat untouched until March 2008. I was frustrated.... Read More

I wrote the first outline for No-Compromise Leadership in March 2005. I wrote the bulk of the book by Fall of 2006. Rewrites on the first third of the book were done early 2006. At 61,078 words, I stopped writing and the book sat untouched until March 2008. I was frustrated. My goal was to write a book worthy of sitting alongside great business books like Jack Stack’s The Great…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

You could sure do a lot if you weren’t doing so much

April 21, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

As a training and coaching company, Strategies meets and works with leaders seeking solutions and guidance to grow their businesses. They come ready to dig in and absorb all the amazing business solutions we can throw at them. They’re motivated and focused. You can hear their entrepreneurial engines revving up as they prepare to go back and take their business to that amazing next level. And then it happens. Their engines start to sputter. The fire in their eyes fades to deer-in-the-headlights. What happened? Simple, they slammed into their daily routine and work habits. As if shifting into reverse, they blurt out, “I don’t have time to do all this. I’m already working 50-60 hours a week.” They’re stuck.
I totally get it and appreciate the situation. You’re a working owner and you need to generate revenue for your business with your own two hands. Question: If you don’t like your situation and want to take your business to a better place, when are YOU going to change and get yourself unstuck? As long you continue to buy into the thinking that you must continue to generate revenues with your two hands, nothing will change. You have a business. You have employees. Each one has two hands to do the work. It’s time to use their hands and start leading and making money with your head.
Here are some red-hot strategies to get yourself unstuck:
* What does your business need from you? Does it need you as a service provider or a strategic leader? Does it need focus, a clear direction or even a new inspiring vision? Do your employees need your guidance, praise and encouragement? As you can see, your business needs more from you than service revenue.
* Break your routine: It’s your routine that keeps you stuck. Nothing else. Change your routine one day at a time. Commit that day to completing specific projects or tasks. How about this? Schedule one-on-ones with each employee. Find out what they need from you and the business. Listen. Listen really well as there is much to learn.
* Small wins add up: Resist the temptation to embark on that big project you’ve been chomping at the bit to do. Tackle some small but meaningful projects that can be done in short order. Rack up some wins before you climb Mount Everest.
* Get comfortable in your new role: Manage your time carefully by making appointments with yourself to complete tasks. Work through a daily checklist. Be present and engaged with your staff. Communicate and share what you’re working on. You’ll soon discover your leadership stride.
* Leave yesterday behind: It’s so easy to slip back into old behaviors and thinking. Keep looking forward and press on. You’ve got a lot to keep you busy.
Changing your work behaviors and thinking is certainly going to shake up your world. And if shaking things up gets you unstuck, it’s the best thing for you, your company and all who depend on it. So rev up your engine and ignite the fire in your eyes. You’ve got a company to lead and grow. No compromise!
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies Founder & CEO
As a training and coaching company, Strategies meets and works with leaders seeking solutions and guidance to grow their businesses. They come ready to dig in and absorb all the amazing business solutions we can throw at them. They’re motivated and focused. You can hear their entrepreneurial engines revving up as they prepare to go back and take their business to that amazing next level. And then it happens. Their engines start to sputter. The fire in their eyes fades to deer-in-the-headlights. What happened? Simple, they slammed into their daily routine and work habits. As if shifting into reverse, they blurt out, “I don’t have time to do all this. I’m already working 50-60 hours a week.” They’re stuck.
I totally get it and appreciate the situation. You’re a working owner and you need to generate revenue for your business with your own two hands. Question: If you don’t like your situation and want to take your business to a better place, when are YOU going to change and get yourself unstuck? As long you continue to buy into the thinking that you must continue to generate revenues with your two hands, nothing will change. You have a business. You have employees. Each one has two hands to do the work. It’s time to use their hands and start leading and making money with your head. (more…)
As a training and coaching company, Strategies meets and works with leaders seeking solutions and guidance to grow their businesses. They come ready to dig in and absorb all the amazing business solutions we can throw at them. They’re motivated and focused. You can hear their entrepreneurial engines revving up as they prepare to go back and take their business to that amazing next level. And then it happens. Their…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Build cash reserves to prevent “Owner’s Nights”

April 14, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

I was 23 when I opened my first business. As I did my research, I kept coming across this one simple statement: “You should keep at least three- to four-months of operating cash in reserve.” As a young entrepreneur, I can’t tell you how many times I thought this cash reserve recommendation was totally absurd. Three- to four-months of cash in reserve – yeah right. But, deep down I knew it was not only dead-on right, it was an etched-in-stone business non-negotiable. It took a couple of tough lessons to learn that you just can’t grow a sustainable and enduring company if its fuel warning light is always on. Cash is the fuel of business.
FACT: Financial stress can wreck you because it keeps you in a constant state of intense worry and high anxiety. How am I going to pay the bills that are due next week? Will I have money to do payroll on Thursday? Where will the money come from if it’s not in the checkbook? How will I ever pay off all those credit cards that I’ve maxed out? I made more money as an employee. How much longer can I work like this? If you’re asking yourself any of these questions, there’s a darn good chance that you’re not sleeping good at night. I call them owner’s nights.
Here are some red-hot strategies to build cash reserves and stop your owner’s nights:
* Confront your financial reality: It’s one thing to experience an occasional bind. It’s another to live in a perpetual cash crisis day in and day out. It’s time to pull your head out of the clouds and look in the mirror. Yup… there’s the culprit. It’s your spending and your business decisions that keep you in a cash crisis. You need to change first.
* Build a roadmap to daylight: You’re kidding yourself if you think working harder and bringing in more cash will fix the problem. You must get a handle on exactly how big your problem is and isolate those areas that need to be fixed first. To do this you must create a 12-month cash-flow plan that projects potential revenues to strive for and a budget you will live by. Don’t know how? Call us.
* Make the tough decisions: A cash crisis doesn’t go away by tip-toeing around the elephant in your living room, or by watching “The Secret” every night hoping the law of attraction will bring you prosperity. Get out the meat cleaver and cut expenses that are nice-to-haves – not gotta-haves. And stop looking at that 55% – 65% payroll cost and do something about it. It’s killing your business. Strategies can help you.
* Stop dragging yesterday’s bad decisions: Your business can’t gain speed dragging along yesterday’s debt. Your cash-flow plan must have a credit card and debt reduction plan built in to methodically pay down debt.
* Build your “sleep good at night” account: This isn’t rocket science. Commit to putting at least 5% of total revenues into a cash reserve account every week. Pay the reserve account first. If you can’t put 5% in one week, than put 2% or 3% in. Just put something into the account. View your cash reserve account as a sacred trust that is not to be touched.
I’ve seen it time and time again. A business that operates in a constant state of insolvency continues to make bad decisions out of desperation because the owner is in survival mode. Likewise, a business with cash reserves makes better decisions because they’re made from a position of confidence and financial strength. Three- to four-months operating cash in reserve. That’s sleep good at night money. I sleep good at night. Do you?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies Founder & CEO

I was 23 when I opened my first business. As I did my research, I kept coming across this one simple statement: “You should keep at least three- to four-months of operating cash in reserve.” As a young entrepreneur, I can’t tell you how many times I thought this cash reserve recommendation was totally absurd. Three- to four-months of cash in reserve – yeah right. But, deep down I knew it was not only dead-on right, it was an etched-in-stone business non-negotiable. It took a couple of tough lessons to learn that you just can’t grow a sustainable and enduring company if its fuel warning light is always on. Cash is the fuel of business.... Read More

I was 23 when I opened my first business. As I did my research, I kept coming across this one simple statement: “You should keep at least three- to four-months of operating cash in reserve.” As a young entrepreneur, I can’t tell you how many times I thought this cash reserve recommendation was totally absurd. Three- to four-months of cash in reserve – yeah right. But, deep down I knew…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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