The New Super Heroes: Introducing The Intangibles

By Baldwin Tom

Baldwin Tom-The IntangiblesThere are seven capital investments available for organizations to build value and wealth. These capital investments are Human, Relationship, Spiritual, Customer, Organizational, Physical, and Financial.

In the 1980 winter Olympics in Lake Placid, the U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey team won the gold medal. In order for them to win gold, they had to beat the Soviet Union team ranked 1 in the world. They beat the Soviets on their way to winning the gold in a game that was called the Miracle on Ice. The odds against them winning were the same as if the University of California football team beat the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl champions. Impossible!

How did this happen? One can assume that it was not because they skated better than the Soviets. The U.S. team was composed of college students and the Soviets were semi-professionals. Instead, it was some intangible force. Here is a clue: The U.S. coach invested heavily on the intangible side into the team members. He instilled in them aspects of Human, Relationship, and Spiritual capitals. The team took to heart what they heard—they believed. The result of the infusion of these capitals was a powerful Return on Investment of some psychic power that allowed the team to rise above expectations to beat the ‘unbeatable’ Soviet team. The effort by the U.S. team was considered by the International Ice Hockey Federation as the most incredible international ice hockey story in the last 100 years! There is power investing in intangibles.

Of the seven investments available to organizations, the five people-side investments are the most interesting. Three of these can be considered as the new super heroes powering success in organizations—The Intangibles. The three are Human, Relationship, and Spiritual investments. These three set up the other investments and the organization for success. They clear the way, they prepare the path, they set the stage, they provide the spark, and they stay the course to provide significant multipliers for high ROI.Character comes from the inside. Invest in people and their relationships to build strong teams. Click To Tweet

The Intangibles, when deployed as investments, create energy and activate others toward positive action. Each of the three super heroes has distinct personalities based on their actions. Each has unique powers in what they initiate in others. Each one will leverage existing opportunities to benefit the organization and to increase ROI from their efforts. The Intangibles interact with each other and with different other investment combinations to create value and wealth for organizations.

Super Hero 1. Human capital investments: Invest in the capabilities of people, their knowledge, skills, and competencies.

Human investments possess a driver type personality. Their uniqueness is in their direct action on people to energize, encourage, and support work. The actions may involve new education, advanced training, and psychological support. Through activities of human capital investments, people are more able and prepared to take on new tasks and to be more creative and innovative. From this, people are more satisfied with their work and look forward to new challenges. Accordingly, the investment of human capital generates positive ROI.

When human capital investments are teamed with customer investments it leads to creativity and innovation and new products and services. When this investment is teamed with Organizational investments, it leads to new intellectual property and corporate memory. When Human capital investments are teamed with Relationship investments it creates high performance teams.

Super Hero 2. Relationship capital investments: Link people together for interactions that leverage power and influence.

Relationship capital investments involve influencer type personalities. The strength of this investment is focused on people—in linking people together. Relationship capital investments help build meaningful interactive groups, create bonding of personnel, and foster can-do mindsets. Relationship investments effectively build strength through numbers. High performing teams result from the activities of Relationship capital investments. The results from Relationship investments include facilitated and accelerated actions throughout the organization and with customers and a boost in ROI.

When Relationship capital investments are teamed with Customer investments, this leads to partnering with customers. When this investment is teamed with Spiritual capital investments, it leads to satisfied people willing to work hard for the organization.

Super Hero 3. Spiritual capital investments: Establish cultural norms that smooth work flow and facilitate people and customer relationships.

Spiritual capital investments have social type personalities. This Super Hero is not demanding or pushy. Spiritual capital is subtle but significant when in place. It’s a lot like spraying WD-40 on all work because the result of Spiritual capital is a smoother and easier effort in getting work done. The efforts of Spiritual capital investments are to support the personal side of peoples’ efforts that engender peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment, of satisfaction. The result of this is that people feel valued leading to higher personal motivation and willingness to contribute more.

When Spiritual investments are teamed with Organizational investments, the results lead to refining cultural norms and ethical decision making. When Spiritual capital investments are paired with Relationship investments, it leads to an ethical workplace that fosters positive group chemistries and greater resiliency within an organization. When Spiritual capital is teamed with Human capital it promotes caring and committed people, willing to go the extra mile. When Spiritual investments are teamed with Customer investments, the result fosters value-based customer relations

Investing on the soft-side intangibles provides the intestinal fortitude to overcome internal and external challenges. Character comes from the inside. Invest in people and their relationships to build strong teams. Invest in team-focused spiritual capital to build loyalty and bonding, resulting in strong character. When opportunities arise or challenges surface, the people will do whatever it takes to help move the ball forward. Focusing on the intangibles strengthens an organization, giving it a solid core and foundation.

In 1990, the Wallace Company won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Started in 1987, the award has been given annually to up to three U.S. companies who have implemented successfully quality management systems. Surprisingly, just two years after the award, Wallace filed for bankruptcy. Following the award, instead of working to turn around an already troubled company, top Wallace officials spent time leading tours through their offices and leaving town on speaking tours. Clearly Wallace did everything it could to win the award. Yet, in the end, they lost it all. There is a lesson here. What did they invest in and what did they miss investing in? It’s possible that they did not invest sufficiently in the intangibles. They needed The Intangibles!

 

Baldwin Tom is a management consultant, professional speaker, and author of 1+1=7: How Smart Leaders Make 7 Investments to Maximize Value. A medical school scientist, professor, leadership program developer, and founder of an award winning science and technology firm, he leverages his experiences in those fields to provide insight and strategies to fit client needs. Baldwin is a Certified Management Consultant and served as the National Board Chair of the Institute of Management Consultants USA. For more information on Baldwin Tom, please visit www.geoddgroup.com.

Stop Falling Behind Your Competitors

Seven Steps to Gain a Competitive Advantage

By Brad Wolff

Brad WolffDoesn’t it seem that business is more competitive and difficult than it used to be? ABC, Inc. experienced this challenging business atmosphere firsthand. A building materials manufacturer that previously dominated their marketplace, ABC suffered staggering losses in the previous fiscal year. It became blindingly apparent that what had worked in the past was no longer effective, and the company president had no idea how to fix things. It was time to use proven techniques for achieving a competitive advantage.

ABC engaged a firm that identified the root causes of their problems. After two years, sales and profits dramatically increased—even with the same leaders. The results came from a seven-step process based on sound principles that put a focus on leveraging their internal talent. If you find your business falling behind, you can follow ABC, Inc.’s lead by putting these seven steps into practice.

1. Employee alignment

When a significant percentage of duties performed by employees don’t fit their innate characteristics or core nature, they won’t perform well. For example, people low in detail orientation doing work that requires high detail. Training and development, management encouragement and other well-intended efforts will not fix alignment issues. As Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”Personal growth results in professional growth. Click To Tweet

2. Creating a competitive advantage through a culture of personal growth and development

In truth, personal growth results in professional growth. It results in a greater capacity to handle life challenges, accomplish long-term goals and work well with others. Personal growth and development includes an increased awareness of self and others, the ability to manage one’s ego, ability to manage emotions and development of innate talents to maximize productivity and effectiveness. Most performance issues that managers complain about relate to one or more of the above. These are fundamental character traits of success.

3. Aligning employees with the mission and vision of the organization

Human beings have an innate need for meaning and purpose in what they do. This means that they care about how their efforts affect the world outside themselves—people, the environment, animals, etc. For example, take assembly line workers that produce incubators for premature babies. In one scenario the workers are only told to mechanically perform the prescribed duties. In the other scenario they are crystal clear about the importance the quality of their work has on the survival of infants. Which workers do you think are more motivated? Engagement and performance are directly affected by people’s connection to the outcomes of their work.

4. Aligning employees with the culture and values of the organization

People need to feel that they fit in with their social groups. Employees who are significantly out of sync with an organization’s culture and values will never make their highest contribution. Having perfect alignment is not the goal, since diversity of thought and behavior allow a culture to adapt and thrive. However, significant misalignments are damaging. It’s also important for leaders to consider whether they should change their culture. Examples of this would include a culture that they know is toxic and when there’s shrinking population of workers who fit the current culture. In both cases, without the ability to attract and retain needed talent, organizations will fail.

5. Aligning roles and responsibilities with organization’s strategies and goals

In today’s environment, organizational goals and strategies must change to adapt. Frequently, roles and supporting job duties don’t adequately change to align with these shifts. When this occurs, some or much of employee work efforts are out of alignment and can impair the ability to achieve the desired outcomes. For example, a company changes strategy to shift most customer communications from telephone to online, yet the employees’ duties and training continue to focus on telephone communications.

6. Assessing personal and professional weaknesses, starting from the top

Weaknesses are the negative side of strengths. It’s impossible to have a strength without its vulnerable side. We’ve been taught to hide or deny our weaknesses despite them being obvious to others. Our ego’s impulse to protect our self-image is normal but counterproductive. It hinders our true potential from being realized—a loss to the organization and ourselves. When leaders openly and honestly acknowledge “challenge areas,” this sets the example for others. The organization opens the door to growth and development.

7. Committing to work on the personal and professional challenges discovered in the assessment process

Studies on human potential and positive change demonstrate that self-awareness is the first step—but it’s not the last. Committing to take steps (starting with baby steps) and taking them allows for the development of positive habits that create lasting positive change. Deliberate change intended to meet the needs of your environment creates a flexible, adaptive organization—one that is poised to thrive despite the torrent of unpredictable/unwanted change that defines your world. Thriving in an unpredictable world is about you. Your willingness to acknowledge change that you don’t like, openly discuss it and consistently take the actions required to adapt and emerge stronger.

At the end of the day, leaders are simply making choices that define the present and future of themselves and their organizations. There’s nothing magical about the most effective leaders. They’re just making more effective choices. These choices encompass how they decide to see the world, their openness to challenge their beliefs and their willingness to experiment with innovative ideas that can capture breakthrough advantages. Equally important choices include their willingness to objectively look at themselves and take actions to grow in areas. They choose to become a greater, more effective version of themselves. They know that what they demonstrate (not what they say) is what has the greatest impact on the entire organization. As a leader, the question is, what choices are you going to make?

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Brad specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way. For more information on Brad Wolff, please visit: www.PeopleMaximizers.com.

Seven Steps for Solving Business Problems

Learning How to Eat an Elephant

 By Mitzi Perdue

Mitzi Perdue-solving problemsSuccessful people all do one thing: they solve problems. They don’t just stare at a problem and wish it would go away.

The magic key to solving your big, difficult, looming business problems is to break them down into smaller parts and then deal with these smaller parts. By viewing your issues through this prism you can focus intently on solving a problem through a series of steps instead of preparing to tackle it all at once.

It’s the old, “How do you eat an elephant?”

Answer: “One bite at a time.”

Your Seven Steps for Solving a Problem

Successful people all do one thing: they solve problems. They don't just stare at a problem and wish it would go away. Click To Tweet

1. Describe the Problem: Do this in writing. Often, you’ll find that simply explaining the whole problem to yourself will cause you to see the solution. But not always, so if that doesn’t make the situation clear, go on to #2.

2. Break the Problem into Smaller, More Manageable Parts: Make a list of the parts of the problem, breaking the problem down into manageable parts that don’t seem intimidating. If one item on the list still seems too hard, break it down still further into even smaller parts. Then arrange your list in a logical order according to what to do first, second, third, and so on.

3. Write Down the Obstacles: This step may come as a surprise, but it’s important. Take a clear, hard look at what the obstacles are and then list them. Being optimistic is a good thing, but no matter how positively you think about a problem, you’ll improve your odds of success if you pay attention to and prepare for the likely obstacles.

4. Brainstorm Possible Solutions: Write down as many solutions as you can. Be as creative as you can be. At this point, your goal is quantity not quality. Don’t keep from writing down an idea just because it seems stupid or irrelevant. Often what seems like a bad idea can spark your imagination in ways that lead to good ideas. These new ideas can turn out to be highly creative ones that might never have occurred to you otherwise. You’d be surprised how often this happens.

5. Stretch to Find One More Solution: Ideas that come when you’ve had to stretch for them often turn out to be the most useful of all. There’s a reason: In many cases if the answer were easy or obvious, it would already have been done by now. It’ s when you stretch to get a new idea that you come up with the most creative ideas—the ones that not everyone has already thought of. The most creative, least obvious solutions may have the best chance of solving your problem. Oh, and something to keep in mind at this point: Thomas Edison was right when he said: “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.”

6. Pick the Best Solution: When you’ve gotten as far as you can with the brainstorming aspect of problem-solving, it’s time to put on your realist’s hat. Remember, it’s a different mindset at this point. Your job is to figure out, of all the ideas you’ve come up with, which is the best? What solution or solutions best combines: a) Solving the problem; b) Getting the job done on time; and c) Having the resources available for accomplishing it.

7. Act on it: Surprisingly often, people may come up with a good solution, but they don’t “pull the trigger.” That is, they procrastinate when it comes to implementing the idea. Successful people, in contrast, have a penchant for action. They are not only good at thinking of solutions; they’re very good at plunging in and doing them. They know that the problem isn’t solved until the plan is put into action and completed.

Three quotes that express the importance of action:

“To know and not to act is the same as not to know.”

“It’s not what you know, it’s what you do.”

“Done is better than perfect.”

Developing skill in problem-solving is an invaluable skill. The best leaders are the best problem solvers. Invest in yourself by learning to be the best problem solver that you can be.

 Checklist for Solving Problems

  1. Have I described my problem in writing?
  2. Have I broken it into manageable chunks?
  3. Have I made a clear assessment of the obstacles?
  4. Have I brainstormed solutions?
  5. Have I stretched to find one more solution?
  6. Have I picked the best solution?
  7. Have I put the solution into action?

Mitzi Perdue is a celebrated speaker, businesswoman, and author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. A cum laude graduate from Harvard University and holder of an MPA from George Washington University, Mitzi draws from her direct experiences in two long-lasting family enterprises to assist businesses in preparing for lifelong success. She is a past president of the 35,000-member American Agri-Women, a former syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard, and the founder of CERES Farms. For more information on Mitzi Perdue, please visit www.MitziPerdue.com.

The Three Values of Great Salespeople

Put on Your C.A.P. and Evolve as a Leader in Sales

 By John Waid

John Waid-values of salespeopleDon’t you wish you felt like someone wasn’t trying to merely sell you something and instead was really on your side and wanted you to be happy with what your purchase? Wouldn’t a world with less pushy salespeople be nice? The best salespeople don’t simply adhere to acronyms like ABC—Always Be Closing—or the X-step processes that remove the humanity from sales interactions. The majority of selling is not technique, but plain old people skills.

When people are asked what makes for a great salesperson they’ll often cite characteristics like listening, asking great questions, caring more about the buyer than themselves, building rapport and being liked as people, handling objections well and shutting up. These are all behaviors that can be found in the three values every great salesperson must possess.

Let’s dispel the myth of what selling is. Most salespeople will tell you that they sold something and yet, if you think about it, they did not sell anything without someone buying. Selling is not the action, so really, salespeople could be called facilitators of buying. “To sell” sounds aggressive and can put the customer in a defensive position, and the inherent “tricks of the sales trade” often leave buyers with a sour taste in their mouths. There is a better methodology that goes to the core of why we sell in the first place—and it’s one that is not financially-driven. Believing in and selling a product or service that can improve an aspect of a buyer’s life should be the primary motivator for salespeople. It’s much better than selling just to hit a sales target or benchmark.

Once you establish a purpose aside from financial gain, there are three distinct values and some adjoining behaviors that drive the best salespeople. The acronym CAP is easy to remember and you will see that after we talk about all three, you or great salespeople you see will have on this CAP every day.A positive mental attitude and deciding to like everyone for something is something that is not only great in sales, but also in life. Click To Tweet

What is the first value? Are you curious? The first value is Curiosity.

Curiosity is the value that drives the best to want to know what is behind the reason why people are buying something. Why do some salespeople create rabid fans around buying their products and services when others do not? It’s because these salespeople add value.

Let’s pretend you have a paperclip company that sells plastic paperclips in ten colors and three sizes. Let’s also say that these paperclips are three-times more expensive. The first salesperson, Jim, goes to call on clients and pushes the paperclips. He has yet to meet his numbers. The second salesperson, Jenny, goes in asking questions to the business owners like, “How important is organization to you?” “How and why could organization help your business be even better?” “Why is being innovative in business important?” Jenny has resolved to selling an organization system and innovation in what most would see as simple clips that really do not warrant spending three-times more money on. Jenny is excellent at asking great open-ended questions and listening for the last drop to uncover value for the client in her products, whereas Jim is simply pushing paperclips.

Developing an attitude of curiosity to help build value for the customer along with the two key behaviors of great open questions and listening can lead you to enjoy selling like Jenny much more than Jim.

The second value is the one that makes you do all the right things and not cut corners: Accountability.

Accountability is an attitude that exudes success. Think about how much better you could have done in school if you had prepared before each quiz or exam, finished reading and taking notes on every textbook and gone to every class and asked for help when you did not know something. You might have gone to a better school and possibly had an easier life. Have you ever tried to build a piece of furniture without first reading the instructions? How long did it take you to build the furniture and how painful was it?

The best salespeople prepare in writing and are meticulous about preparing their territory plans, target accounts, their positive mental attitude, materials, open questions, objection handling, etc. There is a great story about a sales manager that went out on a field ride with one of his sales reps. As they were on the road the manager asked the rep if he had a catalog of the products. The rep said it was in the back seat. The manager then started on the first page and asked if he had a sample of that product with him. The answer was no, so the manager ripped out the page and threw it out the window saying, “I guess we won’t be selling that product today”. He threw the whole catalog out the window after going through this exercise several times. The lesson learned here is that preparation is 90 percent of success and if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

The third value is a love for people through great People skills.

Is it more important that you like the customer or that the customer likes you? Before you rush to answer the question, think about it a bit. How is the customer going to like you if you do not like them? Having a positive mental attitude and deciding to like everyone for something is something that is not only great in sales, but also in life. We spend much of our time interacting with people and if we do not do this well it can cause a lot of heartache. Many of the most successful salespeople create rapport and learn to mirror the behaviors of others for better understanding of them and themselves. The ability to create likeability is the first step in creating “trustability”. Helping people to buy is not easy when they do not like you.

So there you have it. These three values and the adjoining behaviors are key to sales and even make for a better life. Put on your sales C.A.P. daily and you’ll begin to see a boost in relationships, a boost in your numbers, and a boost in your satisfaction as a salesperson.

John Waid is the founder of C-3 Corporate Culture Consulting, a keynote speaker and author of the book, Reinventing Ralph. With a specialty and passion for corporate culture, sales and global business, John believes culture is the engine that drives companies to better results, higher morale, and increased profitability. An active speaker, trainer and subject matter expert, John Waid holds an enduring belief that corporate culture is the key to success for companies. For more information on John Waid, please visit: www.CorporateCultureConsulting.com.

Dealing with Change

Peter DeHaan: Author, Blogger, Publisher, EditorBy Peter DeHaan

Change happens. And the rate of change seems to be accelerating. We experience change at home, at work, and in our community. Change happens in our country and around the world.

When considering change, there are three general truths: change is opposed, change is loss, and change is mourned:We might not escape change, but we can alleviate some of the negative reactions to change. Click To Tweet

Change is opposed

Change represents a deviation from the status quo, from what can be expected, regardless if it is good or bad. Change represents moving from the known to the unknown. Therefore, it is normal that people will oppose change and resist it to whatever degree they can. This might mean clinging to the old ways, lobbying against the change, or rebelling by acting out, offering resistance, or passive-aggressive behavior.

Change is loss

All change means giving up something—even if it is something bad. Many people view change as a “zero-sum-game,” which implies that there are winners and losers. When things change, they assume that someone else must have won and therefore they have lost. This assumption is natural when the change that is taking place was not their idea.

Change is mourned

When something is lost, that loss is lamented and grieved. Sometimes the loss is perceived (it didn’t happen) or potential (it might happen), whereas other times it is real and tangible (it did happen). Regardless, the emotional reaction to that loss is mourning. Just as there are steps to grieving (be it five, seven, or ten), mourning the loss wrought by change will progressively proceed down a similar path.

However, it doesn’t need to be this way. Change can be accepted if it is understood, occurs in small increments, and is within the control of those affected by it. This trio of suggestions may not offer much relief when we’re confronted with global or national upheaval that is foisted upon us, because those situations are not within our control, nor do they generally occur in small doses—though we can seek to understand them. But this advice is helpful when responding to changes in our personal lives, like children marrying and moving on, or work situations, such as layoffs, job cuts, restructuring, office closings, and wage freezes or pay cuts.

In these circumstances, we can make a reasonable and successful effort to accept and even embrace change:

Change that is understood

We can best accept and deal with change if we understand it. That doesn’t mean we need to agree with the reasons for the change, merely that we comprehend why the decision for change was made.

Change in small increments

Change made over time and in small doses has a much better chance of acceptance and becomes more manageable. This gives time for a change to sink in and adjust mentally and emotionally as the change transpires.

Change within control of those affected by it

Whenever people can experience some degree of control over a change, they are more likely to handle it positively. Providing options is significant, as is allowing people to have a degree of input into the change.

A final consideration is directed at those who make decisions for change. Yes, it will be opposed, viewed as loss, and mourned, but you can take steps to greatly minimize those responses by communicating the reasons necessitating the change, making the change in small increments over time, and providing as much control as possible to those who will be most affected by it.

In the end, we might not escape change, but we can alleviate some of the negative reactions to change. That is how to succeed at dealing with change.

Peter DeHaan is a commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services and does ghostwriting.

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