Can you really implement change?

July 27, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Companies are like people; they develop habits and patterns of behavior that impede productivity, slow growth and create useless drama. And just like people, replacing bad habits and behaviors in a business with new and more efficient ones can be a daunting task. Leaders routinely discover that their best intentions to change behaviors create new challenges. So much so, leaders run smack dab into their culture’s natural resistance to change. It’s tough enough to change one’s own habits and behaviors – changing the deeply embedded habits and behaviors of teams of people is an entirely different undertaking. They’re called “culture shifts,” and successfully completing one is hallmark of the no-compromise leader.
Culture shifts are much like the Venus Flytrap. They entice you in with the promise better times, growth and profits until you’re so engaged – it then slams shut and devours you. I’m sure that any leader that attempted a full-blown culture shift will agree with this analogy.
Don’t despair. You can successfully navigate a culture shift – if you’re prepared and understand the dynamics that are involved.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to help you successfully complete a culture shift:
* Culture shifts take time – a lot of time: The amount of time your culture shift will take is based on on three factors:
1. You: Your ability to relentlessly communicate, stay focused and stay the course.
2. The size and complexity of your company: This includes layers of management, departments, divisions and the geographical nature of your company, such as multiple locations or multinational operations.
3. The current state of your company and its culture: Specifically, the more out of balance your business is with respect to The Four Business Outcomes, the more energy and time it will take to move it through a culture shift to no compromise.
* You must be committed to go the distance: It could take 12 to 24 months to completely shift a culture. Repeat: 12 to 24 months. If you’re looking for a quick-fix culture shift strategy, forget it – it doesn’t exist. You must be committed 100% to see this through. A 99% commitment is enough wiggle room to cause it to fail.
* Not everyone is going to survive the shift: Change resisters will get on board, quit or be relieved of their obligation to work for your company. If you allow them to stay, you’re compromising and compromise at the leadership level kills culture shifts.
* Small wins add up: Lots of small wins build momentum and unity in a culture. Celebrate even the smallest of wins. The more you celebrate, the faster the shift.
* Sense of urgency: You can’t shift a culture without it. Find it. Fuel it. Relentlessly drive it.
Caution: I’ve seen companies make wonderful culture-shift strides in a matter of months. However, too many leaders misinterpret these rapid and positive “strides” as being farther along in the culture shift than they actually are. Such misinterpretations can cause you to ease up on the urgency factor far too soon, causing the culture shift to stall. Once stalled, it’s extremely difficult to get a culture shift moving again. It’s simply human nature for old, comfortable behaviors to snap back in a heartbeat when discipline and focus are compromised.
Recommendation: In my book, No-Compromise Leadership, I devote an entire section to “navigating the culture shift to no compromise.” It even includes an 18-month timeline of “must do’s” and “what you should see.” Read it before you hit the launch button.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

change-exit-signCompanies are like people; they develop habits and patterns of behavior that impede productivity, slow growth and create useless drama. And just like people, replacing bad habits and behaviors in a business with new and more efficient ones can be a daunting task. Leaders routinely discover that their best intentions to change behaviors create new challenges. So much so, leaders run smack dab into their culture’s natural resistance to change. It’s tough enough to change one’s own habits and behaviors – changing the deeply embedded habits and behaviors of teams of people is an entirely different undertaking. They’re called “culture shifts,” and successfully completing one is hallmark of the no-compromise leader.... Read More

Companies are like people; they develop habits and patterns of behavior that impede productivity, slow growth and create useless drama. And just like people, replacing bad habits and behaviors in a business with new and more efficient ones can be a daunting task. Leaders routinely discover that their best intentions to change behaviors create new challenges. So much so, leaders run smack dab into their culture’s natural resistance to change.…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Ten tips for business survival in these crazy times

July 13, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

There is only one word that accurately describes doing business in today’s economy. That word is “unforgiving.” The competition is relentless. Customers are more cautious, calculating and demanding with their buying decisions as well as their expectations. But it’s not the threats from the world around you that could throw your business into a tailspin. It’s what’s occurring inside your business that makes you vulnerable.
The key to surviving and thriving in these crazy times begins with leadership and its determination to win the business game. The mandate is simple: if it needs to be done, get it done.
Here are ten tips to help you win the business game:
1. No hesitation, procrastination, blame or excuses: Ignore even the smallest problem today and a bigger problem will be waiting for you tomorrow.
2. All lift – no drag: A business cannot maintain or gain momentum if it’s dragging anchors. Profit-draining projects, departments, services, products, locations and any other business function or entity that’s not performing needs to be fixed or cut. Unproductive employees – get them into the game or cut them loose. You get the picture.
3. Live your cash-flow plan: If you don’t have a cash-flow plan, you and your company are flying financially blind. If you have one, it only works if you’re accountable to it.
4. Have the tough conversations: Every leader has a number of tough conversations that have been waiting too long to happen. Employees need to know where they stand even if it’s not what they want to hear. If you’ve been fighting harder to protect an employee’s paycheck then the employee, it’s time for you and the employee to make a decision.
5. Innovate to grow: A crisis always seems to inspire innovative thinking. But why wait until there’s a crisis? Get you and your team’s creative juices flowing now. Create an environment and culture of innovation by creating think tanks and special project teams. The next new opportunity for your company is waiting to be discovered. Go for it.
6. Inspire a sense of urgency: Urgency is the energy that drives business growth. Urgency pushes leaders, employees and companies out of their lethargic comfort zones. Huddles, scoreboards, deadlines, goals, rewards, celebrations and more are all simple tools to keep urgency levels high. Yes, urgency comes from leadership. It rarely happens on its own.
7. Finish what you start: “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.” If this statement describes your company’s track record for getting things done, compromise is alive and well in your culture. This is all about accountability… and it begins with you.
8. Keep commitments: Broken promises or commitments compromise trust and contaminates business cultures. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
9. Find that 20% growth: I absolutely believe that every company has 20% more growth waiting to happen – if it goes after it. There are new customers and opportunities for growth everywhere. The only question is, are you willing to do whatever it takes to go for it? Get out of your comfort zone. Make those extra 10 sales calls. It may even be as basic as holding everyone accountable to existing systems and procedures.
10. Lead with passion: If you truly believe in your company, its people and its mission, then let it show. Leaders that live in fear or feel like a hostage in their own company allowed their passion to fade away. If necessary, fall in love with your company again. Get fired up about the opportunities and rewards that await you. Let your passion out and your people will follow you.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

surviving-2009bThere is only one word that accurately describes doing business in today’s economy. That word is “unforgiving.” The competition is relentless. Customers are more cautious, calculating and demanding with their buying decisions as well as their expectations. But it’s not the threats from the world around you that could throw your business into a tailspin. It’s what’s occurring inside your business that makes you vulnerable.... Read More

There is only one word that accurately describes doing business in today’s economy. That word is “unforgiving.” The competition is relentless. Customers are more cautious, calculating and demanding with their buying decisions as well as their expectations. But it’s not the threats from the world around you that could throw your business into a tailspin. It’s what’s occurring inside your business that makes you vulnerable. The key to surviving and…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

ACCOUNTABILITY: If it’s what you need, why do you avoid it?

July 6, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

One of the core tenets of no-compromise leadership is, “if it needs to get done – get it done.” It’s truly a simple concept that cannot be argued. Yet, the term “accountability” is tossed around like a hot potato that few want to take ownership of. Everyone wants it. Everyone expects it. The question is, why is accountability such a challenge for leaders and the cultures they are “accountable” for? Why is it that things that need to be done, don’t get done?
In Part One of my No-Compromise Leadership book, I wrote extensively about “leadership blockages” and internal operating systems. Leadership blockages are best described as those situations that trigger discomfort levels that ultimately lead to procrastination. Be it fear, insecurity, self-esteem issues or the need to break out of your comfort zone, leadership blockages ensure compromising behaviors in leaders. Internal operating systems represent your collective thinking and beliefs that autopilot your behaviors as a leader. Just like you upgrade your computer’s operating system to gain more power and capabilities, leaders must upgrade their operating systems with new thinking and higher-level beliefs in people and what’s required to achieve their full potential.
No compromise is a 100% commitment to getting things done. Compromise is something less, much less. Compromise thinking and behavior are the self-imposed speed bumps and stuck-in-your-box constraints that keep you in your current “box” of limited opportunity. Accountability to get things done, no matter how challenging, is the foundation that no-compromise leaders stand on. Accountability is unwavering. Accountability distinguishes world class from average.
Here are some no-compromise thoughts to keep accountability embedded in your thinking and behavior:
* Every commitment is a contract: Breaking commitments breaks trust. If you say you’re going to do something, do it – and do it on schedule. If situations will cause delay, communicate with those on the receiving end of the contract. Accountability and trust only exist when both are present.
* Identify what triggers you to compromise: When you encounter situations that trigger avoidance and procrastination, shift into no-compromise mode and engage. The longer you avoid or procrastinate on decisions, tasks or situations that cause you discomfort, the more difficult it is to engage.
* Manage your time: It’s hard to be accountable when your plate is overloaded. More importantly, focus on priority issues first. It’s amazing how many leaders can get real busy working on low-level projects and tasks. Knock off the big stuff first.
* Get an accountability coach: Getting a coach or mentor that is committed to helping you stay accountable is actually a huge step to becoming a no-compromise leader. If you have a track record of dropping the ball and being inconsistent, you need a coach or mentor. If you just felt a “trigger” of discomfort, that little voice inside you just told you to find an accountability coach.
Accountability is a practiced behavior that gets better the longer and harder you work at it. As a leader, accountability is a non-negotiable.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

One of the core tenets of no-compromise leadership is, “if it needs to get done – get it done.” It’s truly a simple concept that cannot be argued. Yet, the term “accountability” is tossed around like a hot potato that few want to take ownership of. Everyone wants it. Everyone expects it. The question is, why is accountability such a challenge for leaders and the cultures they are “accountable” for? Why is it that things that need to be done, don’t get done?... Read More

One of the core tenets of no-compromise leadership is, “if it needs to get done – get it done.” It’s truly a simple concept that cannot be argued. Yet, the term “accountability” is tossed around like a hot potato that few want to take ownership of. Everyone wants it. Everyone expects it. The question is, why is accountability such a challenge for leaders and the cultures they are “accountable” for?…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Do you have absolute clarity on where you’re taking your company?

June 29, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

No-compromise leaders must be grounded in their understanding of where they are taking the company. Absolute clarity ensures that the company doesn’t wander off course or make decisions that are not in alignment with its vision, such as expanding too fast or entering unknown markets. Decisions or
course changes remain true to the vision and mission. I must drive this point home because entrepreneurial leaders are notorious for justifying whatever it is they want to do. Compromise resides within that justifying behavior. Absolute clarity deters this behavior. If it’s not taking the company toward its intended vision, it doesn’t happen.
I just completed teaching a No-Compromise Leadership Boot Camp course. On day one I introduced leaders to the ten tenets of no-compromise leadership. The very first tenet is, “Have absolute clarity on where you’re taking your company.” I then challenged leaders to construct their own statement of clarity for their companies. I’m not talking about the construction of standard vision or mission statement. I want leaders, in their own words, to craft a detailed statement that defines their company’s quest for greatness. This clarifying statement must encompass what their company will look like when it reaches the top of the success mountain. As in all previous courses, these leaders found this seemingly simple challenge quite daunting.
On the morning of the second day, each leader presented their statement of clarity to the group. In every case, it was determined that their statements of clarity were far from complete. What they learned from this exercise is that their own lack of clarity, or inability to communicate that clarity, creates uncertainty and confusion throughout the company. Simply put, the vague and unclear destination of the company is open to all sorts of interpretation based on each employee’s perspective. Without clarity, a company can wander off course and get lost, or find itself on a long and inefficient course that may or may not reach its intended destination in time.
Here are some no-compromise thoughts to achieve and communicate clarity:
* Take a 30,000-foot view of your company:  Taking a high altitude view allows you to objectively assess where your company is, what’s working and what needs to change. The point is to get “out of your box” and explore all the possibilities – and do so without limitations.
* Think small – stay small. Think big – inspire change! Having absolute clarity on where you’re taking your company should be framed around a lofty goal. Lofty goals will get you and your team’s innovative juices flowing, build momentum and create excitement. You’re not going to capture the imagination of your team if your intent is to be average. What the heck, think big and go for the grand prize.
* Sell your clarity statement to yourself first: If you can’t get excited about your company’s potential and ability to achieve great things, don’t expect others to get excited. Furthermore, if you’re not committed to go the distance, those you intend to lead will know it. People follow leaders that are committed and passionate about achieving great things. They quit leaders that fear the work true success requires.
* Relentlessly communicate: Here’s a simple formula I use to illustrate how vital information flow is to the growth process. Increase your current level of information flow 100 fold. That’s right, dial up the intensity your communication systems 100 times. Everyone needs to know where the company is going. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Everyone needs to know the score.
In these crazy economic times, having absolute clarity where you’re taking your company is a non-negotiable. To be considered a no-compromise leader, you must have clarity. Otherwise, you may find that you’re leading your company to mediocrity.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

No-compromise leaders must be grounded in their understanding of where they are taking the company. Absolute clarity ensures that the company doesn’t wander off course or make decisions that are not in alignment with its vision, such as expanding too fast or entering unknown markets. Decisions or course changes remain true to the vision and mission. I must drive this point home because entrepreneurial leaders are notorious for justifying whatever it is they want to do. Compromise resides within that justifying behavior. Absolute clarity deters this behavior. If it’s not taking the company toward its intended vision, it doesn’t happen.... Read More

No-compromise leaders must be grounded in their understanding of where they are taking the company. Absolute clarity ensures that the company doesn’t wander off course or make decisions that are not in alignment with its vision, such as expanding too fast or entering unknown markets. Decisions or course changes remain true to the vision and mission. I must drive this point home because entrepreneurial leaders are notorious for justifying whatever…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

What are you going to do about it?

June 23, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Let’s face it, there’s stuff going on in your business that’s getting in the way of growth – possibly even doing severe damage. You know what I’m talking about. Things like excessive credit card debt, dependence on gift card revenues, top producers that are working their agenda not yours, employees that don’t retail, high commission payrolls, or there’s just no time for you to lead. It’s even likely that you have an employee on payroll that should have been fired a long time ago.
Unchecked or chronic business problems never cure themselves. They fester and get worse until you break through the leadership blockages that are holding you hostage. So, the question remains, what are you going to do about it? When are you going to reclaim your leadership role and fight for the success of your company? Remember, you’re the one who has everything riding on its success. Your personal guarantee and your assets that are on the line. Your family and your employees are waiting for you to step up.
If you’re ready for change, here’s a red-hot set of strategies:
* Tackle the big stuff: The sooner you fix your payroll, address debt, have that fierce conversation or give that non-performing/toxic employee a “career opportunity,” the sooner you’ll be taking back control of your business and your life.
* Change comes with an opportunity cost: Change shakes things up. It’s supposed to. Most will like the change and stay. A few may not and leave. If you worry about the cost of losing staff, think about the long-term cost of doing nothing.
* Gotta have a plan: Charging into the great unknown without a plan is inviting more problems on top of what you already have. No time to build a plan? Strategies has an online coaching and performance tool that can build a comprehensive plan in less than 90 minutes. Click here to find out more.
* Commitment 100%: Nothing creates more stress than second guessing yourself or having to constantly re-decide if you’re going to do what you set out to do. Jack Canfield says, “100% commitment is easy. 99% is a bitch.” Yoda says, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Pick one – both quotes work.
It’s your business and only you can make the tough decisions that lead to leadership and financial success. Go for it.
And please pass this email on to your friends. They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies Founder & CEO

Let’s face it, there’s stuff going on in your business that’s getting in the way of growth – possibly even doing severe damage. You know what I’m talking about. Things like excessive credit card debt, dependence on gift card revenues, top producers that are working their agenda not yours, employees that don’t retail, high commission payrolls, or there’s just no time for you to lead. It’s even likely that you have an employee on payroll that should have been fired a long time ago.... Read More

Let’s face it, there’s stuff going on in your business that’s getting in the way of growth – possibly even doing severe damage. You know what I’m talking about. Things like excessive credit card debt, dependence on gift card revenues, top producers that are working their agenda not yours, employees that don’t retail, high commission payrolls, or there’s just no time for you to lead. It’s even likely that you…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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