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How closely is your strategy aligned with your values and beliefs?

28 Dec

Your values and beliefs are the foundation on which your insights, perceptions, and resulting decisions are based.

It has often been said that once you know “Why,”… “What,” and “How,”  become much easier to determine and decide.

At any point have you found yourself feeling that you need to violate your principles?

Some values and beliefs are learned and others may be inborn; in either case they do not change quickly or easily.  It is imperative that your strategy is congruent with your fundamental values and beliefs.

Strategy does not usually change quickly or easily.  Tactics however, can be changed with relative ease.  If your strategy is in poor alignment with your values and beliefs, your tactics won’t produce the results you desire.  You can always  modify your tactical activities but you shouldn’t be quick to alter your strategy (unless it needs to become better aligned with your values).

Do you proactively map your strategy and tactics against your values?

Begin with the end in mind, form your strategy, plan yourtactics, and allow yourself the opportunity to make sure that your strategy is in close alignment with your core values and beliefs.  Otherwise, everything is much harder than necessary and no matter how much you accomplish you will not feel satisfied or fulfilled.

What should you consider changing?  Where should you begin?  

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Business Relationship Status: “It’s Complicated?”

22 Mar

Good relationships require mutual trust and good communication.  The described “status,” of a relationship is a direct reflection of it’s quality in the view of the person describing it.

Great relationships can happen online and the parties involved can regularly communicate this way, but it is nearly impossible to actually cultivate and maintain a “great,” relationship exclusively online.  Relationships usually require some offline, personal interaction and face to face engagement to become or remain “great.”

Imagine spouses communicating with each other exclusively via email, text message, or on their social network profiles… It is hard to imagine a healthy relationship surviving exclusively in this sphere.  Most business relationships aren’t any different.  If you communicate with someone exclusively via email, text message, instant messenger, etc., what type of quality do you really have in the relationship?

In an increasingly hectic and demanding professional world, we can all benefit from using online means of interaction to improve our ability to communicate more frequently with our relationships.  However, we must also be careful not to forsake the value of offline interaction.

Quality in our customer, employee, and vendor relationships benefits from personal conversation, periodic face to face meetings, or a social activity where goodwill and trust are built and maintained.

Facebook users are given the option of describing and openly displaying their “relationship status,” to provide an outward indication of their:

1) Availability

2) Happiness/Satisfaction

3) Commitment/Loyalty

4) Intent

What if our customers, vendors, and employees had their business relationship status with us openly displayed for review?  What would it say?

What if we relied so heavily on online communication that this became our best chance of really understanding their perspective on the quality of our relationship?

Depending on your business or industry there may be some discrepancy, but the table below is an approximation of the business equivalents of  some common Facebook “Relationship Statuses.”

Business Relationship Status Equivalents

Don’t be so busy that you let the quality of your relationships suffer.

Pick up the phone and tell someone that you appreciate them or that they are doing a great job.  Better yet go see them in person and tell them face to face.  Invite someone you care about to do something fun or interesting with you.  Take some time to get to know somebody better and begin a great relationship.

These actions create memories for both of you.

View this as a communication strategy, or just consider it as “a way of doing business.”

For assistance with evaluating, managing or improving business relationships contact us:

Reputation Management for Leaders: An Enigma

19 Jan

In a world of increasingly competitive social, personal and professional environments we are presented with a heightened challenge to measure and protect both our business and our personal reputations.

Can we ensure that we will not be accused of something that might damage our reputation?  No.

Can we monitor and protect ourselves from this type of risk? Yes.

Type “reputation management,” into a search engine and you will find results linking to articles, consultants, and technical services providing advice and assistance with protecting or repairing your “image,” on the internet.  It goes without saying that your internet presence is certainly important, but your reputation depends on more than its appearance on the internet.  Reputation management should be proactively oriented and addressed as part of your comprehensive business continuity plan.

When you are in a leadership position, you bear a significant responsibility for the decisions and actions that you make, but also for those made by people in your charge.  When you have been given the trust and responsibility that comes with leadership, you must be certain that you lead by example, and maintain a high level of awareness to the conduct of those who you lead.  One action or decision could mortgage or bankrupt your reputation as a leader, or even the reputation of your entire organization.

If misconduct on the part of a team member were to have legal consequences those might pertain only to that individual. However in the court of public opinion, blame and responsibility have a more common tendency to be attributed to entire groups, and even more so to the leader.

Reputation and word of mouth have always been important, with the rise of social media and hyper-communication, the stakes are even higher.  Word of mouth simply travels much farther, and much faster than it ever has before.

Prominent leaders who stand accused of wrongdoing often proclaim their innocence, or attempt to explain themselves only to have their words fall on deaf ears.  These stories spur discussions which are often hot topics in both traditional and social media channels.  In some cases allegations are proven to be legitimate, while in others even the most heinous of allegations are proven to be false.  The problem is that even when somebody is absolved of blame often the conversation or media focus has moved on to other matters, and the individual and/or organization is left to deal with significant residual damage to their reputation.

The Washington Post featured a story about Sue Scheff a consultant to parents of troubled teens.  In short, Sue Scheff lead a small business where her name was essential to the business brand. In 2003, a parent posted negative remarks on her organization’s website, which defamed her character and injured her reputation.  The injury to her reputation had serious personal, financial, and business consequences after negative remarks went “viral,” Sue had been Google Bombed.  It took years, but Sue was diligent in reclaiming her reputation, today her business appears to be alive and well, and she authored a highly acclaimed account of her ordeal titled Google Bomb: The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use The Internet. It would not be an understatement to say that most businesses or individuals would not have survived this type of ordeal nearly as well as Sue eventually did.

How do you determine what (or who) may be a legitimate risk factor?

It is certainly not productive to spend too much time or focus dwelling on every eventuality or possible risk since there is no way you can guarantee that allegations won’t be made against you.  While valid, this reasoning unfortunately is commonly used as an excuse for not asking pertinent questions; with answers that may require making difficult decisions.  Failing to ask such questions not only makes you more vulnerable to attacks on your reputation it can also have profound effects on your culture and performance.

10 questions to begin your thought process or to start a dialog with your leadership team.

  1. Are personal values consistent with organization values?
  2. Is it possible to maintain a separate identity in our personal and professional lives?
  3. Do we always do our best to promote morality both in concept and action as individuals and leaders?
  4. Which practices/policies might hurt, frustrate or anger customers/members, employees, partners, or vendors?
  5. Is poor conduct ever “accommodated,” because of an individual’s role in the organization?
  6. What steps can be taken to improve our current level of awareness to our individual and collective reputations?
  7. What (or who) are the greatest risk factors in improving or maintaining our reputation?
  8. What immediate steps can be taken to prepare for an attack to our reputation?
  9. What further measures should be considered to be protected.
  10. Are we properly prepared to effectively respond if faced with a serious challenge to our reputation?

For more information about reputation management for leaders contact us: