Category Archives: Richard J. Bryan

The Leadership Cornucopia: Succeed With an Abundance Mentality

Richard J BryanBy Richard J. Bryan

Have you ever worked with someone who had a scarcity mentality? In other words, they believed that if someone else was successful then there was less opportunity for them? Their whole belief system was one of winning at all costs even at the expense of friends, colleagues, customers and even family members. They had a win/lose outlook on business and life in general.

Typically, this sort of approach is less successful in the long-run, as it is not conducive to building long term relationships. Other people become turned off by this compulsive will to win regardless of who loses in the process.

It is far more productive all around if, as a leader, you can promote an abundance mentality in the workplace. This helps you and others find creative solutions to problem solving, and is far more motivational for employees and ultimately leads to business growth. How do you do this? Try adopting the following four simple steps in your business:

1) Become a Coach and Mentor – Don’t be so quick to criticize members of your team if they get something wrong or fail at a particular task, but rather view it as a coaching opportunity. If you can become more of a coach and mentor instead of a task-oriented leader, you create an opportunity to grow your people and let them learn from their mistakes. This also makes the team of people working for you more self-sufficient and stronger, thus enabling you to focus on other strategic priorities.

2) Seek Creative Solutions – Encourage your people to come up with creative solutions to business issues. This will empower them to discover new and better ways of doing things that can directly impact the bottom line.

As an example, Peter, a long-time owner of a car dealership, was amazed at how much money was saved when his employees offered to paint the white lines that marked out the 500 car spaces that they had on site. Normally, this simple task would have cost thousands of dollars each year by employing outside contractors to come and paint the lines every six months. However, with his own employees doing the job, not only was it done for half the cost, but they also did a far better job because they had more pride in the task at hand and cared about the work.

3) Encourage Risk-Taking – Encourage your team to take calculated risks and learn from their mistakes. By doing this you send a signal that you want them to think bigger and help to grow the business rather than just sticking with the status-quo.

Not only can this deliver results, but it also creates a culture where looking for new and better ways of doing things is not only encouraged but also rewarded.

You must remember that the first attempt at doing this may not necessarily result in the best solution, but this approach does encourage outside-the-box thinking rather than worrying about being “right” and playing it safe. Allow time for both the leader and the team to get accustomed to this approach.

4) Give Praise and Recognition – It is amazing how something as simple as giving regular praise and recognition can be so effective as a strategy for growing your business. What is even more amazing is how few organizations do this well!

Bob was the General Manager for a large and very successful retail store and he had more than 50 sales people working for him. He maintained that his team was more motivated by winning “Sales Person of the Month” not because of the financial bonus they received, but because of the peer recognition and praise they received from their managers and colleagues. “It is a huge motivator for our team. I am sure that they would like it to be Sales person of the Week so that they could get more recognition!” he said. “I can’t understand why anyone with a team of people working for them wouldn’t do something like this to recognize their top performers.”

So ask yourself what you can do to find ways to give genuine praise and recognition to your own people?

The Bottom Line: A CEO of a multi-billion dollar software company based out of Chicago put it best when asked about the many things that his organization had achieved during the past ten years. He was quick to praise his management team and said, “We take it as a given that you need to have the skills and the experience to come and work as part of our team. Then we look to hire those who have a positive outlook and an attitude of abundance. This is what helped us to grow revenues and profits even during the tough times of the recent economic downturn.”

These four steps are simple, yet can have a profound effect on your business when you apply them consistently.

If you can lead in a way that encourages collaboration then you will build an “abundance mentality” which promotes teamwork and what is best for the organization and its customers. More creative ways of doing things are discovered and a win/win philosophy becomes the norm.

So, how about you? Are you leading with an abundance mentality?

Richard J. Bryan is an international speaker, executive coach and author of the recently released book, Being Frank: Real Life Lessons to Grow Your Business and Yourself. Through his experiences as the 4th Generation CEO in a family-owned business, Richard gained a wealth of knowledge and developed from a micro-manager into a confident leader. Richard uses creative strategies to help organizations make powerful transformations by hiring the right people and forging dynamic teams to dramatically improve performance. For more information, please visit www.richardjbryan.com.

The Frank Principles of Business Blunt: Leadership Lessons Learned Over a Lifetime

Richard J BryanBy Richard J. Bryan

Frank was ex-Special Forces with a fine arts degree—an unusual mix. He achieved a lot in his business career by following five simple principles that he was able to apply to any business, and many have achieved a lot by learning to do the same.

If you can apply these same principles consistently to your organization, you will find that you are able to move away from being a micro-manager and instead become far more strategic in the way your run your own business.

So what are these magic principles? Really, they are just good common sense, but as Frank was fond of saying, “Good business is just common sense, unfortunately common sense is not common practice.”

Principle 1 – Define Your Role: Too often, business owners do not have clarity on the difference between management issues and ownership issues. Management issues are things like dealing with the daily HR concerns, accounting and administration and the sales process. They are seemingly urgent matters that must be dealt with in a timely fashion. The person overseeing these functions can be the business owner or an appointed manager.

Ownership issues are the things that only the business owner can do, such as dealing with the shareholders, banking partners and setting the long-term strategy for the organization.

Frank’s approach was simple: have a clear split between ownership of the business and management of the business and find the most talented people to run day-to-day operations. This sometimes means that the owner needs to step aside from management and make way for a better-qualified leader. A good example of this would be the way that Bill Ford stepped aside as CEO of Ford Motor Company to allow Alan Mulally to take on the role back in 2006. The result was one of the most successful business turnarounds in US corporate history, as Mulally took Ford from near bankruptcy to record profits in 2013.

Concentrate on an area where you are talented and do what you are passionate about. Let others take care of the things that you are not so good at and which conform to their strengths. Everyone will benefit.

Principle 2 – Create a Compelling Vision: One of the most effective ways to harness the potential of an organization is to get everyone pulling in the same direction. However, without a compelling vision this can be difficult to achieve.

Frank realized that vision is a crucial component in getting employees to understand the direction the company is trying to go and therefore encouraging them to generate meaningful suggestions as to how to get there. It doesn’t matter if your vision revolves around customer service excellence or creating innovative products–as long as it is both inspiring and challenging.

Frank did not believe in having a vision that was just there to tick the box and display on a plaque behind reception. Rather, it was an important part of the overall company strategy.

Put some time aside to work on your business rather than in your business by developing a vision that enables you to grow your business and achieve your life goals. Don’t make the excuse that you are too busy to spend this time crafting a quality vision—it will be the best investment of time you ever make.

Principle 3 – Hire “A Players”: Frank believed that the key to running an organization successfully in the longer term is to hire great people. As he was fond of saying, “If you can surround yourself with people that are smarter than you are then the chances are your business will do just fine.”

Many leaders feel insecure about hiring really smart people, as they believe that it will undermine their credibility, but Frank knew that building a great team enhances your reputation as a leader.

A CEO of a $100 million company remarked recently that when he first took on his role 10 years ago he believed was the smartest person on the management team, and that made him very nervous as everything revolved around him. “Frankly it was exhausting!” he said. However, he has invested in hiring great people, and now he considers himself to be surrounded by people that are much smarter than him.

Make sure that hiring “A Players” is a priority for you as a business owner or leader.

Principle 4 – Develop Trust: The key to leading your team of “A Players” is to develop trust. This is what keeps them working for you in the longer term. Frank knew that if you can become a better coach and mentor rather than try and micro-manage your best people you will find that they trust you and are more loyal to the organization. “After all,” Frank would say, “People leave bosses not organizations!”

“A Players” know their market value. What keeps them working for you is not money, but the ability to work independently and express their talents in their own individual way. They are self-motivated and driven to achieve excellent results. Too much interference from their immediate superior can be very demotivating—an “A Players” drive comes from within

Principle 5 – Have Some Fun! Frank was always firm but fair in the way he led his people. One of his greatest strengths was knowing when to have some fun.

Celebrating success—such as winning a major new customer or having a particularly profitable quarter—was always something that he believed in doing as a way to reinforce the positive behavior that caused it.

Even when under extreme pressure to perform, Frank knew the value of a joke or light-hearted moment to relieve the tension. Look for opportunities in your own business to have some fun, as this can be a key retention strategy for your “A Players.”

By following Frank’s simple principles you can not only grow your business, but you will also find you have a lot more time available to enjoy spending with your family and pursuing other interests. As Frank would say, “You only live once and life is short so you had better enjoy it!”

Richard J. Bryan is an international speaker, executive coach and author of the forthcoming book, Being Frank: Real Life Lessons to Grow Your Business and Yourself. Through his experiences as the 4th Generation CEO in a family-owned business, Richard gained a wealth of knowledge and developed into a true leader. By applying his creative strategies, Richard helps businesses hire the right people, forge dynamic teams and increase their profits. For more information, please visit www.richardjbryan.com.

Seven Tips for Hiring “A Players”

Richard J BryanBy Richard J. Bryan

Your business doesn’t run itself. The quality of your organization depends on the quality of your team—a motivated, energized staff is the key to companywide success. You want A Players, those colleagues who contribute disproportionately to the advancement and profitability of the organization.

In the same way that the Pareto Principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of your employees (based on research by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in the early 1900s), your A Players have a measurable impact on your bottom line.

The Pareto Principle is often used in a sales environment, but it applies equally to a variety of different industries. If you can build a team of A Players around you, then your job as a business leader or owner becomes much easier, as you do not have to deal with endless crises and can work more intentionally on developing the future strategy for your organization.

So how do you find A Players for your team?

The funny thing about A Players is that you can find them in the strangest of places. A few years ago, James was running a car dealership that was lacking in quality salespeople. He received a call from his wife while she was out shopping for strollers, and asked him to meet her at the store…

“I want you to meet Louise. She has a great attitude and I think you’ll like her.”

Ten minutes later he was walking into the shop to meet Louise. She was a class act and spent the next half an hour asking them lots of qualifying questions about their lifestyle. Once she had all the information she needed from them, she launched into a brilliant sales demonstration of various products. She was impressive.

They ended up spending over $1,000 in the shop that day and were absolutely thrilled with their interactions with Louise. James was particularly impressed by her enthusiasm, her energy and her ability to listen intently to their needs, and then repeating this information back when closing the sale. Too many sales people believe that selling is about talking, but in reality it is actually about the ability to listen to your customers so that you can truly understand their needs.

A few days later James went back to her store and offered her a job. He was not sure that selling cars had been on her career plan, but to her credit she took a risk and joined the team the following month.

Initially, Louise struggled a bit because she had no product knowledge, no customer base and was the only female on a sales team of 30 people. However, after continual support from James and the upper-level staff and a combination of hard work and positive attitude she began to flourish. By the end of the year she was the top sales person at the dealership.

When you are seeking A Players for your organization, don’t just look for skills and experience but start by looking for someone with a great attitude.

Here are seven tips to help you find your own A Players:

  1. One page plan – Have a simple one page plan that you can share with future employees. This plan highlights what you have achieved as an organization during the past year and also what your Vision is for the next 3 to 5 years. “A Players” are motivated as much by being part of an organization that has clear goals and aspirations as they are by salary and benefits. They want to be part of an organization that has a purpose.
  2. Think outside the box – Don’t just look in the same old places for new employees. Think about looking outside of your industry for people with the right attitude and a track record of success. You can always train skills and product knowledge.
  3. Telephone screening interview – Consider having a 15 to 20 minute telephone interview with potential candidates. This can save both parties a lot of time and expense before a more formal interview is arranged.
  4. Personality profiles – Use DISC or another similar personality profiling tool to make sure that you have a good fit for the role you are seeking to fill. Different fields require their own unique brand of skills, such as high-influencing personalities or levels of compliance.
  5. Watch the body language – Always have another person interview with you and if possible get them to ask the questions, so that you can concentrate on listening to the answers given and also observe the body language to make sure that it is congruent with what is being said.
  6. References – Always insist on speaking to a former boss for a reference. Sometimes it is not what is said about the candidate but the way in which it is said over the phone that can alert you to potential problems but also provide clues to the positive aspects of the candidate. Written references are usually very brief and not very helpful.
  7. Staff referral program – Have a program in place that rewards existing members of staff if they recommend someone for a position you are trying to fill. For example, you could offer a cash bonus to your employees if their recommended candidate is taken on, and another bonus if the candidate is still with you and performing well 6 months later. This has the added benefit of ensuring that the new member of staff has a mentor looking out for them during their initial 6 months!

Try some of these tips and see what works best for you. If you can surround yourself with a team of A Players who have great attitudes, are motivated by achievement and are strong in areas where you are weak, then your role as a leader or business owner becomes far easier. You can concentrate on setting the future strategy for your organization while your team achieves amazing results.

Richard J. Bryan is an international speaker, executive coach and author of the forthcoming book, Being Frank: Real Life Lessons to Grow Your Business and Yourself. Through his experiences as the 4th Generation CEO in a family-owned business, Richard gained a wealth of knowledge and developed into a true leader. By applying his creative strategies, Richard helps businesses hire the right people, forge dynamic teams and increase their profits. For more information, please visit www.richardjbryan.com.