Creating a REAL Competitive Advantage

What would happen if tomorrow all of your staff showed up more engaged – even a little more engaged – say just 20 or 25 percent more; if they were all on the same page (or at least reading the same book) and working together to achieve a common vision? Do you think this might have an impact on product quality? Would customer service improve? What about innovation, sales and even bottom line results?Obviously the answer is yes. And I have good news for you. It all starts with you.

I can hear you asking now, “What do you mean it all starts with me and how is that good news?” Let’s start with how it is good news. You are completely in control of the destiny of your business or department. You don’t have to wait for your staff to start doing something different. You just have to change what you are doing.

It’s your job as a leader to create an environment where staff are motivated to be engaged and to provide them with the tools they need to do their job.

Once you do that, it is also your job to guide anyone who is not actively engaged and on board with the vision to “find greener pastures” – so to speak. Once you have led your staff to water, it is your responsibility to give those staff who choose not to drink from the stream the opportunity to find a body of water they do want to drink from.

In his book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, Patrick Lencioni argues that a healthy culture – not superior strategy, faster innovation or smarter employees – is the true source of a lasting competitive advantage. I totally agree and highly recommend the book!

The source of creating a healthy cultures rests with the leader and leadership team. So where do you start?

Step 1: Cultivate Self-awareness

Start with cultivating self-awareness – with truly understanding your strength and non-strengths as a leader. You must also be very clear on your vision for the company or department, as well as the outcomes and goals you wish to achieve. If you are not clear, how can you expect your staff to be clear on what they should be doing? Self-awareness is a critical first step to business success whether or not you are currently leading a team.

Step 2: Unite As a Leadership Team

I see a lot of businesses where the leadership team is not on the same page or even in the same book. This lack of cohesiveness leads to an inability to make decisions, a foggy message being delivered to staff, and overall lack of productivity. At best this lack of cohesiveness results in staff innocently going in different directions – thinking they are supporting the overall vision of the company. At worst it results in staff aggressively pursuing their own agendas. Would you like to see your staff development dollars have a true impact? Invest in developing a cohesive leadership team.

Step 3: Seek to See the World Through the Eyes of Your Staff (or Customers)

The third step is truly understanding each of your staff members – their strengths and non-strengths, goals and values. We all perceive the world differently and those differences drive what we see, do and believe. It is like we are all looking at the world through different colored sunglasses. You must be able to look through the lenses of the sunglasses of each of your staff members. What type of environment will motivate each of them to be engaged? How can you best communicate with each one in a way that they will hear your message? How can you help them achieve their goals in a way that helps you achieve the overall goals of the organization or department? (As a side note, you also need to be able to see through the lenses of your customers.)

Step 4: Adapt to Meet the Needs of Each Team Member (or Customer)

This is arguably the most difficult step of all. Successful leaders are not one dimensional. Successful leaders adapt their style to meet the needs of each of their staff members. They meet each staff member where they are, take their hand and lead them to water. Great leaders help those they lead see the vision and see how that vision benefits them as well as the department or company. (Great sales people are also multi-dimensional and take the hand of their customers.)

Step 5: Become a Multi-dimensional leader (or Sales Person)

If you are ready to become a multi-dimensional leader (or sales person), I invite you to complete a free “8 Dimensions of Leadership Map”. You can request your complimentary access code here. This map is based on the Everything DiSC® model and is a great place to start with cultivating self-awareness – whether or not you are currently leading a team of people. I took my first DiSC profile over 25 years ago as a young (and new) manager and it changed the direction of my career. It can change the direction of your career, business or department as well.
Want more tips and resources to help you dissolve barriers to business success by unlocking the potential of your people and harnessing the power of teamwork? Enter your email in the box at the top of the page to receive our monthly Blog post.


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