Stop Talking About it, and Start Doing

If we took all the time in our lives that we thought about doing something, and planned on doing something, and compressed that together, I bet we’d have years of inaction that prevented us from achieving many things. I have been involved in many projects where team members wait until the last week of the quarter to start on their part and then they don’t get it done. I have consulted and coached with individuals that knew what they had to do, but every excuse in the world prevented them from acting. I have seen business owners spend thousands of dollars on training, and then they do absolutely nothing with that training to help their company.

The last year I have had some stresses that have taken a lot of my energy. Wait… hold on… do you see what I just did? I just made an excuse. Sure I had a tough time, but I could have moved an inch, instead of not moving at all. I can’t blame my inaction on anyone but myself. The same goes for you. Don’t be one who says they’ll do something and doesn’t follow through. Create a plan and act. Even if your action is small, you’ll be closer and closer to your objective.

Are You Making Your Employees Stupid?

Stupid-LeadershipAccording to Merrill Lynch, “50% of employee skills become outdated in 3 to 5 years.” WOW, when I read this statistic, it really surprised me. Many leaders think that the experience of just doing the required work, day in and day out, is enough to keep their employees knowledgeable to optimally perform their duties. Unfortunately that is not true at all.

On the job training, meaning training that is acquired by just doing your job, interacting with clients, and talking with colleagues is hardly enough to create productive and engaged employees that are on the cutting edge of their disciplines. Many leaders and managers struggle with training programs because they are often tasked with reducing costs. So training programs are often the first to go.

Consider this though, according to a Saratoga Institute study, “Workers who have good training and professional development paths average 12% turnover; workers who don’t have learning and growth opportunities average 41% turnover.” That is not even the worst of it; consider additionally that the average cost of replacing an employee is 150% of their salary.

Those numbers mean that eliminating a training budget will probably cost you much more than you can save. To support that statement, Motorola has discovered that, “…for every $1 spent on training, there will be $30 in productivity gains in 3 years.” Why then would anyone cut training?

There is a lot of hidden meaning in these numbers that whisper of leadership, culture, productivity, cost savings, and innovation; but they all point to the fact that an organization will be less successful if they operate without formal training and coaching opportunities for their employees.

There are a lot of different training programs available that can train employees on a multitude of things, such as: Leadership, Execution, Productivity, Customer Service, Management, Teamwork, Collaboration, Innovation, Social Media, Financial Management, Technology, etc…

These programs are not always expensive and really could just involve reading a book in a quiet room of the office to hone a specific skill.

I challenge you, before the year is out, to put together a training program for next year, for your employees that will make them, and you, more successful in building the organization. Don’t make your employees “stupid” by failing to give them proper training.

Shameless plug, but if you are interested in execution and leadership training, be sure to check out all my programs that are half-off until the release of my book about execution.

Do you agree with these statistics about training programs? Please share your experience with training and development programs that you have experienced or implemented.

Leadership is About Achieving Results (Which are Beyond the Ordinary!)

Leadership ResultsA few years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to a ‘dialogic’ conference held at a small conference venue in a Château in the south of France, near the beautiful St. Paul de Vence.  This was a select gathering of leaders drawn from business, the arts, religion and academia; fourteen diverse minds drawn from across the world.  Who could possibly turn down such an opportunity, even if it were just for the wine, fabulous surroundings and ‘bonhomie’?

A dialogic conference is, as the name suggests, where people talk, present, ask questions and discuss.  The topic for the conference was the mere small and insignificant question ‘What is Leadership’?  After three days of intense discussion and fascinating rumination the group came to the interesting conclusion that it was impossible to define leadership because the concept meant different things to each individual.

To say the least, this was a little disconcerting, since I had promised to return to my organisation with an inspirational insight into leadership and here was I about to proclaim that some of the finest minds in the field had declared that it was an undefinable concept!  Moreover, the discussions had been brilliant; inspirational, thoughtful and intellectually challenging, so the lack of an outcome seemed wasteful in the extreme.  On the return flight I decided there must be some learning to be taken from the event.  From my folder of extensive notes taken from days in cloistered reflection came the following conclusions:

  1. Leadership is about outcomes not behaviours.  Training leaders cannot be achieved by training behaviours or developing qualities; this has been tried and discredited.
  2. Developing leaders, I believe, is about helping them develop a set of skills (intra-personal skills and inter-personal skills), which:
    – Encourage collaboration
    – Encourage the generation and execution of ideas
    – Maximize the potential of people
    – Maximize their own potential (including an understanding of their own limiting beliefs)
  3.  Leadership is a system that enables an organisation to achieve results beyond the ordinary. The leaders are the catalysts that make this happen.
  4. Good managers are not necessarily going to be leaders. Leadership should not be confused with Headship.
  5. Leaders will have an unequivocal source of inspiration that underpins their actions and can be drawn upon by their people.
  6. Most importantly, Leaders have clarity of purpose that drives them to find ways of achieving results that are out of the ordinary.

Of course, that’s not the end of it; there are always new ideas, concepts and approaches which are added ‘into the pot’. I’m tempted to suggest these points are the basis for a much broader discussion.  Anybody fancy three days in the South of France?

Connect with Dave Bradley: Website | BlogTwitter | LinkedIn

Lessons of Execution & Leadership from Cotton Patch Cafe

LeadershipFor the past 3 months I have been consulting with a company in the city of Lubbock. Located among the flat landscape and cotton fields of West Texas, this small city is brimming in abundance with many things, but three in particular: banks, churches, and restaurants. Fortunately, as I have been traveling for extended periods of time there, I am thankful for the many restaurants. Anyone that travels for extended periods of time understands that eating out meal-after-meal can be a frustrating endeavor. Restaurants are one of the few places where the top-down effectiveness of the leadership of organizations can be experienced so intimately and instantly; and where you can win and lose a “client” in minutes.

I am never as picky about customer service or product quality as when I am at a restaurant. The product of a restaurant is the experience and the food. Restaurants that are successful & have successful leadership, continually strive to perfect these items at every level. It is quite easy to see through the restaurants that have poor leadership, as their lack of attention to innovation and quality is easily recognized. This is all about drilling down into the little things: butter that is not frozen when it comes out, food that is warm, friendly staff, drink always full, etc…

Among the many restaurants that I have eaten at, the one that I keep coming back to time after time during my stay in Lubbock is the Cotton Patch Cafe. (*Note: this article is NOT sponsored). The Cotton Patch cafe has 39 locations in only 2 states, but the lessons of innovation, execution and leadership, are valuable for businesses worldwide. While no restaurant is perfect all the time, this restaurant has exceeded all my expectations and given me a home away from home feeling.

Let me share with you what I have learned over the last couple months about leadership, perfection, innovation, and successful execution from my 2 to 4 visits a week to the Cotton Patch Cafe:

Setting the Tone

When you walk in the door one is instantly greeted by two smiling hostesses. I have never had to wait for a hostess to show up. I think many people in leadership positions overlook this fact of how much a smile and a good experience, right when you “walk in the door,” can set the tone for the rest of the experience. This is no different a lesson if you do not have a customer facing business.  Have you ever called a business and been met with an indifferent or rude person on the other end of the line? Or receieved a technician at your business that was just “doing their job?” A smile can do wonders, whether in person …or over the phone. The staff at Cotton Patch all take the time to remember my name, and ensure that my experience is good from the onset. The day I wrote this article, I had been to two restaurants before finally going to Cotton Patch. The service at both restaurants was horrible and I left each of them without eating. Looking back, neither of them met me with a smile at the door. So if you think this is not that important, think again.

Quality of People

I can only assume that the Cotton Patch leadership has a great training or orientation program, and/or even a great hiring process, because I have never had a bad experience with any individual there. In fact I will take that a step farther and say that I have never, not had, an exceptional experience with any individual there. I see new faces on different days and they still perform the same as others. There cannot be enough said to the lesson of: hire good people, train them well, and success will follow.

Teamwork & Silos

At most restaurants, the hostess is the person that greets people and escorts them to their table. The bartenders stay at the bar, the waiters and waitresses – take orders and serve, the clean-up crew cleans the tables. Well at Cotton Patch those position all exist as well, but their teamwork is amazing. Waiters and waitresses at most restaurants are especially territorial. Same goes for sales staff at businesses. They are protecting their tip, their “commission.” Yet at Cotton Patch, I have seen the hostesses cleaning-up tables to help the clean-up crew. I have had waiters and waitresses that were not my waiter or waitress at the time, go and get me a drink. I have had other waitresses come to my table to make sure things were OK.

There are no silos that I have been able to identify; they all work as a team. Many books have been written on teamwork and avoiding silos. This important lesson of leadership creates synergy and multiples an organization’s success – many fold. A team of people that cares first for the successful experience of the customer, rather than protecting their personal tip amount, is a beautiful site to see.

Innovation & Consistency

One thing about restaurants that has always bothered me is if there is something on the menu, or the atmosphere that is not perfect, I have never understood why the restaurant leadership does not take the time to innovate and make it perfect.  Instead, many restaurants keep serving up the same poor quality food over and over or doing the same poor practice over and over. At Cotton Patch, the bread is always warm, butter is never frozen, the food is always good, and each menu item tastes just as good …each and every time. Over 2 months ago I had their pork chop meal. They were best pork chops I have ever had, and for over a month, I was actually afraid of getting it again because I was afraid that the “best” could only happen once, and I did not want to ruin the perfect memory I had. Well, I was wrong, it was awesome the second time too.

Leadership & Execution Perfection?

Those in leadership at all organizations need to take the time to perfect their processes, perfect their products, and provide consistent quality and service. Of course a business shouldn’t get stuck down in the details and avoid delivering; but it is important to always be innovating and trying to achieve perfection in all aspects of an organization’s operations, services, and products. In my opinion, Cotton Patch has done just that.

These lessons from Cotton Patch Cafe are important for all businesses. I use the term “perfection” loosely, as the best any business can do is to satisfy the highest number of people, most of the time. Of course… hmm… if Cotton Patch were to start serving sweet potato pie, well then, I would probably have to concede perfection…… 🙂

If you are ever in Texas or New Mexico, take the time to see these lessons in action for yourself at Cotton Patch Cafe. And if you happen to visit Cotton Patch Cafe in Lubbock, TX, please say “Hi” to Leeann, the General Manager, and give her a high-five.

Leadership Take-Away’s From Cotton Patch Cafe

1.   Set the tone with your customers right off the bat.
2.   Make sure your staff knows how to smile, on the phone and in person.
3.   Hire quality people
4.   Train your people well
5.   Foster teamwork & abolish silos
6.   Perfect your product and/or services for the market you are serving
7.   Keep innovating
8.   Execute with consistency
So, now that you’ve read this article, how are you going to use this information to bring about greater success in your organization?

Please take a moment and share your ideas in the comments section below, share this with your social media friends, and subscribe to receive A Slice of Leadership notices, as well as occasional leadership advice, articles, tips and freebies.