When the leader steps up

November 24, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

These are truly uncertain times where the relentless barrage of bad economic news can rattle even the most steadfast of leaders. I’m hearing it every day, in every class and in every coaching call. The stress all leaders are feeling is real and it’s becoming more obvious. Well, I figured it was time to offer you a change of perspective – a kick in the butt to get you back in the leadership game.
My friend, Dr. Lew Losoncy, has the perfect philosophy for these times – and he says it in only three words: “What is, is?” Relax. Take a moment to digest these words. Think about the profound meaning these words have today. Think about how these words have helped people to overcome the worst things life can throw at them. Now, think about your business and all that’s right with it. Think about all the clients who depend on your services and products for their sense of well being. Think about those employees that in good times and bad continue to believe in you.
What is, is? It may or may not be the reality or situation you want to be in, but what is, is? The past is the past. It’s locked and archived and can never be altered. The only control you have is to begin at “What is, is?” and move forward with resolute determination to lead your business through these uncertain times to reach the good times that are waiting for you to arrive. It’s time to shake off the funk and fear, and step up to lead like you’ve never done before. There is nothing standing in your way to prevent you from doing this except your determination to create a new and better “What is, is?” tomorrow … and the day after … and the day after that.
Last week, I did an online course called “How to Kick Butt in an Uncertain Economy.” My message was solid and straightforward: engage as the leader, turn your systems on and focus on only those key drivers that will have the most immediate and greatest impact on driving your business forward. I also drove home how vital it is to make tough decisions targeted at trimming costs and eliminating any and all drag that’s slowing your business down. The next day I received an e-mail from one of the attendees that said, “I did not know that when I signed up for your online “Kick Butt” course that it was not about kicking butt as in increasing sales and doing well, rather, it was about you kicking me in the butt to turn intentions into actions.” Bingo! He got it. It’s time to step up and lead.
I urge you to talk to every one of your employees and communicate Dr. Lew’s “What is, is?” philosophy. Talk about what needs to be done, and everyone – including you – must be accountable for creating a new “What is, is?” Address the tough stuff head on. Step up and lead your company. You’re the only one that can. That’s what no-compromise leadership is all about.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO8

These are truly uncertain times where the relentless barrage of bad economic news can rattle even the most steadfast of leaders. I’m hearing it every day, in every class and in every coaching call. The stress all leaders are feeling is real and it’s becoming more obvious. Well, I figured it was time to offer you a change of perspective – a kick in the butt to get you back in the leadership game.... Read More

These are truly uncertain times where the relentless barrage of bad economic news can rattle even the most steadfast of leaders. I’m hearing it every day, in every class and in every coaching call. The stress all leaders are feeling is real and it’s becoming more obvious. Well, I figured it was time to offer you a change of perspective – a kick in the butt to get you back…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

The Holidays: Lead your team to victory

November 10, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

I just completed a Podcast with John DiJulius, author of What’s the Secret: To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience. The first point John made was about the economy and how he avoids watching, reading and getting wrapped up in today’s gloomy economic news. “I need to stay positive so I can deliver my best to my company and employees.” At no other time does John’s message ring true than this Holiday Season that the news media and analysts are already projecting to be one of the weakest in years. The question is: what are you going to do to make this the best Holiday Season possible?
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in – now is the time to shake off the funk of negative thinking, shift into no-compromise leadership mode and lead your team to a fourth-quarter win. The key words here are, “lead your team.” You’ve got seven weeks to play the business game like you’ve never done before.
Here are some red-hot strategies to make this Holiday Season a winner:
* Chaos yields to vision: When one voice rises above the noise with clarity, purpose and direction, others listen. There’s no doubt that achieving a win this Holiday Season is going to take more leadership and focus then ever. Now is the time to ratchet up information flow, set incremental daily and weekly targets … and cheerlead your team like you’ve never done before.
* Systems rule: Too often I hear leaders say, “We already do that,” Unfortunately, their critical numbers tell the truth. Many businesses have systems but fail to turn them on. Accountability and the relentless quest for consistency must be inherently bonded into every system if the desired results are to be achieved. For example, if you have a system for product recommendations and pre-booking, is it “turned on” and running with the precision of a Swiss watch? If not, confront reality, flip the switch and get to work.
* Go for that 20%: I’ve seen my “20%” theory proven time and time again. It’s simple: there is another 20% in sales and growth waiting for you and your team, so go for it. When you put the excuses, blame, insecurity and blockages aside, you’ll see it and achieve it. You’ve got seven weeks to take it and prove me right. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying. No compromise.
* Bring your game face: If you’re intent on ending 2008 with a win, you’ll need to bring your game face to work every day. The demeanor of the leader sets the tone for the team. If the leader is energized, determined, positive and focused, the team will be too. The leader creates lift or drag. You’ve got seven weeks to lift your team to the mountaintop. No compromise.
So there you have it – a seven-week leadership game plan for winning this Holiday Season. The question again is: what are you going to do to make this the best Holiday Season possible?
A PERSONAL NOTE: My new book, No-Compromise Leadership, has been among Amazon.com’s top 25 “Leadership” books for over a week. It’s been as low as #7 … right behind Marcus Buckingham’s First Break All the Rules. I am both excited and honored to have my book in such esteemed company. Yeah, it’s that cool.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

I just completed a Podcast with John DiJulius, author of What’s the Secret: To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience. The first point John made was about the economy and how he avoids watching, reading and getting wrapped up in today’s gloomy economic news. “I need to stay positive so I can deliver my best to my company and employees.” At no other time does John’s message ring true than this Holiday Season that the news media and analysts are already projecting to be one of the weakest in years. The question is: what are you going to do to make this the best Holiday Season possible?... Read More

I just completed a Podcast with John DiJulius, author of What’s the Secret: To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience. The first point John made was about the economy and how he avoids watching, reading and getting wrapped up in today’s gloomy economic news. “I need to stay positive so I can deliver my best to my company and employees.” At no other time does John’s message ring true than this…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Everyone is responsible for business growth

November 3, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

In my new book, No-Compromise Leadership, one of my favorite Neilisms is, “If I can’t sleep at night, no one sleeps at night.” It’s not intended to be a message for leaders to stress out their employees, it’s simply a thought-provoking and rather amusing quote to drive home the fact that leaders don’t have to shoulder the burden of growing a business alone. Leaders define the destination and keep the business on a steady course. That’s the real work of leadership and that work includes inspiring great performance as well as making tough decisions.
Leadership is a delicate concoction of foresight, focus, tenacity, trust building and accountability that produces measureable results. When this concoction gets out of whack, those measureable results can head in the wrong direction, signaling that indifference has contaminated the business culture. Indifference sounds like, “Why should I work hard or care about the performance of the business. I’ll get paid no matter what?” Indifference is another word for apathy and apathy can kill a business.
When the funk of apathy slows a business down, leaders typically identify employees as the problem. They reason that employees just don’t get it or care, or that they’re simply lazy. Well, my fearless leaders, I bet you know where this is going. Bingo! It’s not them – it’s that delicate leadership concoction of yours that’s out of whack. You’re enabling the very behavior that’s slowing your business down by not engaging as the leader.
Everyone is responsible for business growth. It’s such a simple statement that resonates with good stuff like teamwork, empowerment and progress. But that “everyone is responsible” thinking begins with the leader creating a culture where clarity, openness, trust and shared accountability are the rule rather than the exception. In such a culture, the only way indifference and apathy can set in is when the leader is distracted or just not paying attention.
Sense of urgency is a key business driver. It’s the business equivalent of a throttle on a jet. Take the pressure off for only a second and it begins a steady decent. If you’re dealing with lackluster performance, indifference and apathy in your business – if you want everyone to be responsible for business growth – it’s time to take the pilot’s seat, push forward on the throttle and communicate to your team what the destination is and what it’s going to take to get there. In these crazy economic times, it’s what no-compromise leaders do.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

In my new book, No-Compromise Leadership, one of my favorite Neilisms is, “If I can’t sleep at night, no one sleeps at night.” It’s not intended to be a message for leaders to stress out their employees, it’s simply a thought-provoking and rather amusing quote to drive home the fact that leaders don’t have to shoulder the burden of growing a business alone. Leaders define the destination and keep the business on a steady course. That’s the real work of leadership and that work includes inspiring great performance as well as making tough decisions.... Read More

In my new book, No-Compromise Leadership, one of my favorite Neilisms is, “If I can’t sleep at night, no one sleeps at night.” It’s not intended to be a message for leaders to stress out their employees, it’s simply a thought-provoking and rather amusing quote to drive home the fact that leaders don’t have to shoulder the burden of growing a business alone. Leaders define the destination and keep the…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

No-compromise leadership is an either/or proposition

October 27, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

I received the following in an email from Dr. Lew Losoncy, “Clearly stated in the title, your book is the right concept for our times. No compromise is an either/or proposition that forces leaders to act decisively or accept the alternative – fear of compromising themselves and their companies.”
Either/or. Compromise or no compromise. Get it done or procrastinate. Address the problem or allow it to fester and grow. Take control of your business or be a “hostage.” Be tenacious and courageous or live in fear. Experience the fulfillment of racking up wins or the anxiety of allowing time and opportunities to slip away.
Going no compromise is tough work. It doesn’t matter if your business is wildly successful or confronting major challenges, no compromise is the work of leadership.
Since my No-Compromise Leadership book was released a few weeks ago, I’ve had some pretty interesting reactions from readers. One reader said, “I’m into Chapter 3 and suffering acute anxiety. I’ve been seriously compromising. Do you ever feel this way?” My response was a simple, “Yes, I feel the pressure of living no compromise every day. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the success or failure of my company.”
What I’m learning is that Part One of the book really hit its mark. It calls leaders on their compromising thinking and behaviors. So if it’s tough reading for some, it’s precisely what they need to read because compromise destroys businesses from within. Just a hint of compromise is toxic enough to create drag in a company.
Here are three simple rules to keep you in the no-compromise leadership zone.
1. Stay engaged in the business of your business: Don’t get lost in projects or distractions. Disconnecting from customers, your employees and what drives the bottom line is a compromise. Simply put, be where the action is.
2. Priorities rule: Getting stuck in busy work is a compromise. Identify and tackle priorities with determination. Heck, attack them with a vengeance.
3. Information flow never flows fast enough: Communication and the flow of information is fast and furious in the no-compromise zone. Information flow keeps everyone on the same page. It’s like glue, the more you drive information flow, the more locked into the no-compromise zone you get.
Either/or … compromise or no compromise. Which path will you take?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

I received the following in an email from Dr. Lew Losoncy, “Clearly stated in the title, your book is the right concept for our times. No compromise is an either/or proposition that forces leaders to act decisively or accept the alternative – fear of compromising themselves and their companies.”... Read More

I received the following in an email from Dr. Lew Losoncy, “Clearly stated in the title, your book is the right concept for our times. No compromise is an either/or proposition that forces leaders to act decisively or accept the alternative – fear of compromising themselves and their companies.” Either/or. Compromise or no compromise. Get it done or procrastinate. Address the problem or allow it to fester and grow. Take…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Are you throwing Alka-Seltzer in your St. Helens?

October 20, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

‘ve been teaching a lot of seminars and doing a considerable amount of coaching these past few months. If I had to use one word to describe the emotional state most often encountered, I’d have to use the word “stress.” In these crazy economic times, it just seems like owners are stressed to some degree over the uncertainty of how their business will fair. The constant barrage of bad news doesn’t help much either. The question is, what are you going to do right now to ensure that your business will weather the storm and emerge rock-solid? If there is any cure for stress, it’s taking action, being proactive and kicking some business butt. There’s little or no time for stress when you’re taking action. Sitting around worrying or obsessing over what to do and doing nothing, feeds and deepens stress.
I’ve spent the better part of my career teaching and helping entrepreneurs work through their challenges and grow successful businesses. Just about every business owner knows what the problems are in his or her business. They know who the unproductive employees are. They know what’s undermining teamwork and fueling all that senseless drama. They know payroll is too high and which expenses need to be contained. They know that cash-flow plans either don’t exist, and if they do, they’re not living their plans. Simply put, they know. You know.
If owners know what the problems are, why don’t they – why don’t you – fix them? The answer is actually quite simple. It’s the fear of making big changes and how badly those big changes will rock the boat. Productive employees may leave. The changes will be unpopular and create discontent. Maybe the changes won’t work. So, rather than implement a cure that may rock the boat, owners create some short-term discomfort or require the learning of new business skills, and small, largely ineffective solutions are attempted instead. It’s like throwing an Alka-Seltzer in Mount St. Helens. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz – the eruption rages on.
I received the following email from an owner who just returned from a Strategies course on no-compromise leadership. The business has been struggling financially and she just completed performance reviews that she described as “crucial conversations.” She wrote:
“I feel empowered and I keep these words in mind. At night when I tuck my son into bed, how will I explain that he won’t have his bedroom in the house that he loves, in the neighborhood he feels safe in, or go to the school where he feels confident and loved? The likelihood of loosing it all is a respected fear that I am no longer willing to ignore or sweep under the rug. Going no compromise is really hard, but the alternative is much more uncomfortable and scary. Neil, I finally get it.”
Those are some pretty powerful words from an owner who traded in her bottle of Alka-Seltzer to do the tough work of a no-compromise leader. She gets it that rocking the boat is part of change. She knows that her decisions may not be popular with her team and some may leave, but she has the respect and loyalty of those that want to build something special together.
In these times, never forget that business problems are like icebergs. You see only a small piece of the problem while the real danger looms large below the surface. As the leader, you must not only be strategic, you must be decisive. If you need to cut expenses, cut decisively. If you need to address performance issues, address them decisively. If you need to give certain toxic employees a career opportunity, do so decisively.
Becoming a no-compromise leader is truly a road less traveled. Not because it’s necessarily long or difficult, but because of the unwavering commitment and perseverance to be such a leader. Is it time for you to allow the no-compromise leader in you to emerge?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

I’ve been teaching a lot of seminars and doing a considerable amount of coaching these past few months. If I had to use one word to describe the emotional state most often encountered, I’d have to use the word “stress.” In these crazy economic times, it just seems like owners are stressed to some degree over the uncertainty of how their business will fair. The constant barrage of bad news doesn’t help much either. The question is, what are you going to do right now to ensure that your business will weather the storm and emerge rock-solid? If there is any cure for stress, it’s taking action, being proactive and kicking some business butt. There’s little or no time for stress when you’re taking action. Sitting around worrying or obsessing over what to do and doing nothing, feeds and deepens stress.... Read More

‘ve been teaching a lot of seminars and doing a considerable amount of coaching these past few months. If I had to use one word to describe the emotional state most often encountered, I’d have to use the word “stress.” In these crazy economic times, it just seems like owners are stressed to some degree over the uncertainty of how their business will fair. The constant barrage of bad news…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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