Joe Takash

Most people spend their working lives following orders, whether they’re from a boss or a customer. They may not be military commands — your customer may ask you in the nicest way possible to reduce delivery time — but they still must be obeyed. This is just the way things are, whether you’re a junior executive or higher-level manager.

So here’s the leap of faith: Consider the possibility that you can have an equal relationship with a “superior.” I don’t care if that superior is the CEO of a Fortune 50 company. You don’t have to be an inferior in that relationship.

But these partnership relationships don’t just happen. You’ve got to be courageous. A good first step is figuring out why you accept the role of order taker in the first place.

People define their roles based on how they are treated by their boss or customers.

This is a typical example for a newly hired lawyer. John begins his first day as a junior associate at a prestigious law firm, showing up at the appointed 7:30 a.m. time. Mark, his boss, doesn’t arrive until 8:30. Mark finally greets John, who had been sitting in the waiting area outside of Mark’s office.

“John,” Mark says, “I’ve got a lot of work to give you. Follow me.”

The interaction lasted only a few seconds, but the impact on the relationship was huge:

 

  • Tone and pace — Mark’s words and tone of voice said that he was “all business” and made John feel like a lackey about to receive his assignments. The cold, fast nature of the exchange said to John that his role was to obey without question.
  • Bad manners — Mark didn’t apologize for being late. Nor did he welcome John to the law firm. Being rude tells John that he is so far down on the totem pole that he doesn’t even merit bare-bones respect.
  • Commands — Mark asserted his dominance by his choice of words. He might as well have greeted John with, “Hi, you’re my inferior. Follow me to my office which is bigger than any office you’ll be in for a long time.”

 

Unequal relationships arise when one person does all the talking and the other does all the listening. Test this concept by thinking about your relationships. I’d bet in every relationship where you’re the primary listener, you’re also the primary order taker. Just as our best friends tend to be good listeners, our best work relationships are characterized by two-way listening.

To bolster peer partnerships you must bring the resistance out in the open. Maybe the other person doesn’t even realize they’re fighting against treating you as an equal. Another factor is that busy people often have good intentions but bad execution. They may agree with the points you raised in your partnership conversation, but then some crisis arises and those points aren’t acted upon.

If you want results from a partnership, you must talk about what that looks like because we can’t fix what we can’t see.

 

Name: Joe Takash

Title: President

Company: Victory Consulting

Victory Consulting is a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm that helps people maximize their talent and performance. Joe is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings.

How to reach: Victory Consulting, (818) 918-3999 or www.victoryconsulting.com

Email: Joe@victoryconsulting.com 

Twitter: @JoeTakash

 

 

 

Do these terms sound familiar?

■  Vision

■  Strategy

■  Quality

■  Mission

■  Commitment

Come on, you can admit it. Aren’t there times when corporate-speak makes you nauseous? Don’t get me wrong; I live in the corporate world. It’s from there where my bread is buttered and bills are paid. Yet, those running the big businesses often forget what the keys for optimizing success are, thus garnering less than stellar results.

The construction of a high-performance team needs to be centered on the how. Having worked intensely with executive teams in the last five years, we take an unconventional approach to helping them maximize performance, as reflected by the following:

 

Key No. 1: Vulnerability

Each individual starts out standing front and center before their peers and speaks to how they contribute to the success of both the team and organization. They must speak on the areas they believe they’re most measured against and where they believe they’re strong and where they need the most improvement. 

Vulnerability can be terrifying. But it also shows tremendous strength when an individual can get up and bare all in front of his or her peers. The comical irony about this activity is those who think this is soft or too touchy-feely aren’t strong enough to be vulnerable; are you and your team members?

 

Key No. 2: Feedback

Author Ken Blanchard said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Unfortunately, too many people skip breakfast or don’t want to be told they have to eat it to be healthier. Feedback is the same. How can we remove blind spots that risk so many crucial business issues if we don’t get input?

Many performance reviews will discuss certain levels of improvement needs, but they often lack the specificity of observable indicators. In other words, how will we know you are improving? What actions will reflect your growth?

Perhaps the best way to create team trust and inspire a desire to improve is to provide feedback that is candid and constructive in a shared forum. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s for those committed to optimizing their individual and team growth.

 

Key No. 3: Action-based standards

We’ve all driven home and taken a different route because of traffic or construction. Sometimes, retracing the route we selected slips from our memory. Yet, we know we stop at the red light, advance on the green and adhere to the driver on the right at a four-way stop sign. Why? They are the rules of the road that become memory-formed habits.

Benign mission statements are just that because they lack verbs that execute. Action-based standards don’t describe what we will be, but how we will conduct ourselves.

If they are agreed upon and authored by the group, not by one guy at the top, they become the fabric by which everyone works. It becomes much more likely that members of the group will hold each other accountable to these standards. They become the rules of the road, which become burned in our hard drives.

If you want to establish a truly high-performing team, you need to engage people in the way that team will effectively function. When they are part of that effort, it builds long-term traction and optimizes effectiveness. 

 

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm. Takash is also a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings. Reach him at (818) 918-3999 or www.victoryconsulting.com

 

 

Learn more about Joe Takash at:

YouTube: http://bit.ly/14IxSSd
Twitter: @JoeTakash
LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1fV4mxn
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/18MeVjH

Three tips to help you get better at securing warm leads to grow business

“Before I got married, I had six theories on raising children. Now I have six children and no theories.” — John Wilmot

We all long for that road map to guide us to a higher level of success in all that we do in life, whether it is in parenting, fitness, buying a car or a house, or saving for your children’s college education.

Yet, I’ve discovered a surprising level of irony in the way many organizations and their sales divisions go about securing business. Sure, there are sales plans, strategies and tactics in most companies. But the contradicting force that sabotages a higher level of success is the lack of discipline at the individual level. 

Historically, here at Victory Consulting, we have floundered in a hodgepodge, haphazard manner. We have worked with little consistency and too much randomness in our prospecting for and pursuing of opportunities. This has rendered us operationally inefficient.

Furthermore, we once rested on the convenient self-talk that the best way to get new business is to do good work. While that thinking has relevance, it often serves as a rationalization to procrastinate the necessity of systematic, disciplined selling.

Enter 2008.

When the client work we were conducting was not commensurate to producing like quantity of new business, we looked hard into the mirror and came up with a simple plan. After all, simplicity breeds execution.

All who are responsible for chasing new business must, at a minimum, apply the following approach for working warm leads:

 

  • Make a list of every friend, family member and business prospect you know where there may even be a hint of an opportunity for you to establish a professional connection. Create it, save it; add to it and save it again. Covet this lead log. 
  • Prepare in simple sound bites what your business is, how it provides value to those who work with you and what your differentiators are. This must be brief and easy to digest and this is something on which you must get feedback. Most sales professionals either don’t prepare this or assume it’s an inauthentic “pitch.” On the contrary, being able to functionally and succinctly articulate your value proposition, ask smart questions and listen is a sales professional’s responsibility.
  • Penetrate your lead log and work your network. Ask people if they can introduce you to others who you can approach and if you can use their names as a reference. Tell them you don’t want to create discomfort, only reciprocal opportunities. A key component here is to determine how you can help the people who are helping you. It’s another responsibility of building connections.

This three-step approach is the antithesis of complex. Yet, how diligent and self-accountable are you in applying this process?

The truth is when you put these in action on a regular basis, business not only starts coming in more frequently, but there’s an exponential benefit that feeds momentum. And the benefit is the power of higher confidence.

 
Learn more about Joe Takash at: 

YouTube: http://bit.ly/14IxSSd
Twitter: @JoeTakash
LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1fV4mxn
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/18MeVjH

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm and a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings. To learn more, visit www.victoryconsulting.com.

 

On Mondays, many high school, college and professional football teams get together in a dark room and do the same thing: they break down the game film. It’s often not a pleasant session after a team has lost. Their performance is under a microscope. Many plays are paused, replayed again and again in slow motion. Actions are scrutinized at a hyper-level.

Because comments like, “I dropped that pass coach, but I want you to know my intention was to catch the ball” or “I did miss three easy tackles, but my plan was to not miss any” would not be met kindly, they’re seldom heard. Why? It’s what you do that counts most.

People do not judge you by what you think or feel, only by what you say or do. While your intentions may be in earnest, it’s your impact that is evaluated most. Impact comes through action, action through behavior.

The following are four leadership qualities that require specific action for higher effectiveness:

 The Teaching & Mentoring Leader

  • Behaviors
    • Determine motivations of top talent by asking them about their passions and professional goals and follow up to stay aligned.
    • Take time to teach, explain and confirm that understanding has occurred.
    • Make certain that grooming future leaders is a non-negotiable calendar commitment.

 The Responsive & Reliable Leader

  • Behaviors
    • Live your word: Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it, without excuses.
    • Cultivate trust via prompt responsiveness and respect others through acknowledgement of their inquiries.
    • Follow up with staff and colleagues to ensure alignment and healthy communication is a front-burning priority.

 The Service-Focused Leader

  • Behaviors
    • Make individual meetings a standard to customize your connections and build trust.
    • Even in stress or work mode, demonstrate courteous actions to team members.
    • Designate “what service will each of us focus on most?” in weekly meetings and get 30-second comments from each attendee.

 The Recognizing & Rewarding Leader

  • Behaviors
    • Evaluate effectiveness not just by numbers or business output, but by the impact of how team members connect with colleagues and clients.
    • Determine what recognition looks like from person to person by asking what incentives motivate him or her.
    • Don’t just think about the positive qualities of others. Take time to express specific appreciation to staff and clients.

 If you are currently in a leadership position with people under you, how would your direct reports and team members say you measure up to these? How well does your boss demonstrate these with you?

The “thought-leader” becomes a better performer and contributor to organizational success, ultimately through proof of observable behaviors. That’s what success boils down to in anything we do, but it begins with giving yourself an honest assessment. Perhaps the late author and business management guru Peter Drucker said it best:

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm and a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings. For more information, visit www.victoryconsulting.com.

On Mondays, many high school, college and professional football teams all get together in a dark room and do the same thing: They break down game film. It’s often not a pleasant session after a team has lost. Their performance is under a microscope. Many plays are paused, replayed again and again in slow motion. Actions are scrutinized at a hyper level.

Because comments like, “I dropped that pass coach, but I want you to know my intention was to catch the ball” or “I did miss three easy tackles, but my plan was to not miss any,” would not be met kindly, they’re seldom heard. Why? It’s what you DO that counts most.

People do not judge you by what you think or feel, only by what you say or do. While your intentions may be in earnest, it’s your impact that is evaluated most. Impact comes through action, action through behaviors.

The following are four leadership qualities that require specific action for higher effectiveness:

 

The Teaching & Mentoring Leader

  • Behaviors
    • Determine motivations of top talent by asking them about their passions and professional goals and follow up to stay aligned.
    • Take time to teach, explain and confirm that understanding has occurred, (because we all learn differently).
    • Make certain that grooming future leaders is a non-negotiable calendar commitment.

 

The Responsive & Reliable Leader

  • Behaviors
    • Live your word: Do what you say you’re going to do WHEN you say you’re going to do it, without excuses.
    • Cultivate trust via prompt responsiveness and respect others through acknowledgement of their inquiries.
    • Follow up with staff and colleagues to ensure alignment and healthy communication is a front-burning priority.

 

The Service-Focused Leader

  • Behaviors
    • Make individual meetings a standard to customize your connections and build trust.
    • Even in stress or work mode, demonstrate courteous actions to team members.
    • Designate “what service will each of us focus on most?” in weekly meetings and get 30-second comments from each attendee.

 

The Recognizing & Rewarding Leader

  • Behaviors
    • Evaluate effectiveness not just by numbers or business output, but by the impact of how team members connect with colleagues and clients.
    • Determine what recognition looks like from person to person by asking what he or she is incentivized by.
    • Don’t just think about the positive qualities of others. Take time to express specific appreciation to staff and clients.

 

If you are currently in a leadership position with people under you, how would your direct reports and team members say you measure up to these? How well does your boss demonstrate these with you?

The “thought-leader” becomes a better performer and contributor to organizational success, ultimately through proof of observable behaviors. That’s what success boils down to in anything we do, but it begins with giving yourself an honest assessment. Perhaps Peter Drucker said it best:

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection,” Drucker said. “From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

 

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm and a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com

 

 

 

 

Art was 58 when he realized that his company might have passed him by. He had been with the same employer for 35 years. He still loved the business, enjoyed the young up-and-comers and genuinely respected his boss. Yet, he did not feel like as valuable of a contributor to his company as he was in years past, and it bothered him.

Finally, Art’s friend Peter asked him what bothered him most. Art replied, “The thought of being viewed as obsolete. It scares me from a career standpoint and hurts me personally. I don’t know how to say this to my boss.”

Peter’s response was spot-on — “You just said it, but I’m not your boss.”

Perhaps the deepest need in corporate America that even senior executives and CEOs experience on a regular basis is a toolbox for being productively confrontational. Most employees don’t know how to manage their boss and often work from a place of fear of resentment.

Many managers will not confront administrative assistants who are short and even rude to clients. Talk about underachievement! What does this do for individual performance, organizational results and professional reputations?

The following are important steps necessary for confronting others in a manner that creates stronger relationships and increased productivity:

Change the name and your attitude

Too many people look at difficult conversations as negative and counterproductive; hence, they avoid and dance around them as often as possible.

Instead of difficult conversation, use productive confrontation. The words you choose create the path you use. Knowing that the intended result is to help, not hurt, may make it easier to find the courage to step-up and approach others. Frame it appropriately.

Put it on paper

Before the meeting, prepare a bullet-point structure (not script!) in writing. Be sure that it allows you to communicate your viewpoint in a logical order that is easy to understand and follow for the other person.

Clarifying your points with concrete examples builds momentum and makes a stronger case for being heard with respect.

Be as clinical as possible

Whether you’re intimidated, angered, hurt or resentful, try to consider the impact of how both parties will feel and focus on how everyone can benefit. This will allow you to assume a third-party, objective perspective and maturely manage the confrontation.

Agree on a resolution

At the conclusion of the meeting, discuss what the next step should be for follow-up. This agreement serves as a strategic road map for a stronger working relationship going forward.

Art did approach his boss honestly with concerns and after his boss listened attentively, Art learned that he was not only valued more than he thought, but he was in line for a promotion. Remember, even bosses can’t fix what they can’t see.

Not all corporate stories have a fairy tale ending, but think of how many people wallow in negative emotions from holding back in confronting others. The key is to prepare, be confident and behave with courage.

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings and has appeared in many national media outlets. His firm, Victory Consulting, coaches executive teams and individual leaders with a client list that includes American Express, MIT, Prudential and 

Turner Construction.  Learn more at
www.victoryconsulting.com.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 20:00

Five strengths of the vulnerable leader

The biggest misconception in corporate America is the thinking that vulnerability and weakness are synonymous. They couldn’t be more opposite. If you don’t think so, think about the kind of managers

you want to work for and respond yes or no to the following:

 

 

  •  Has all the answers.

 

 

  •  Does not ask for suggestions on the ability to lead more effectively.

 

 

  •  Refuses to confront sensitive interpersonal issues.

 

 

  •  Frequently keeps office door shut with a sign on it that says, “Not Now!”

 

 

This last one may seem like a joke. It isn’t. At a particular organization, this is promptly displayed for all direct reports and those who pass by to see. Yikes.

To clarify, vulnerability in leadership is not reflected by managers who are quivering bowls of insecurity that freak out twice a day, questioning themselves out loud on every decision.  Vulnerability is demonstrated by managers who have both the confidence and courage to make tough choices.

Yet, in the process of these choices, they are willing to reach out for help, because it’s in the best interest of the organization as well their continued development.

The following are five areas that demonstrate the strong, vulnerable leader. Do a quick self-assessment as to how you measure against these:

Ask the opinion of those lower in rank.

Many managers view their competencies as milestones they passed, no different than a child who has learned to crawl then walk. Why look back? Yet, the perspectives of those under you not only builds morale and makes team members feel valued, managers may learn a fresh perspective they never considered.

Be willing to apologize and admit fault.

No one wakes up and thinks, “I can’t wait to screw something up so I can make a public apology!” Yet, the well-managed ego of a leader knows that both trust and character is on the line when it comes this one.

Get feedback from direct reports.

This is a distinction as the strong, vulnerable leader proactively seeks specific areas to be more aware and effective. This willingness to be enlightened is paramount for modeling continuous improvement.

Ask customers to critique your service.

Verbal critiques are best here so dialogue is involved. We have a propensity to bristle when those not making or selling our products or services chirp up. But the perch from which they view our approach to service not only offers a different vantage point, but one that may increase future business and referrals based on the openness of that relationship.

Tell colleagues to hold you accountable.

Empowering a circle of trusted advisers, above and below you in rank, creates a positive environment, one that knows higher trust, support and stronger likelihood of better performance outcomes.

Which one of these qualities resonates with you most? If you immediately have a couple in mind, that’s a good sign. If you are willing to openly discuss these with those you work with, that’s a great sign. Stay vulnerable, my friends.

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm. Joe is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings and he has appeared in many national media outlets. His firm, Victory Consulting, coaches executive teams and individual leaders, helping them maximize strategic execution.  Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.

Dear CEOs, managers, sales presenters and meeting facilitators:

My name is Y.A., (short for Your Audience). You may think you know me well, but you probably would be surprised at how little you do. See, all those things you do incorrectly when you make a presentation or run a meeting are not fair to me. Yet, I’ve come to realize that while you’re not being fair to me, I’m not being fair to you either. I mean, how would you know where you could do better unless I tell you?

The things that make me pay attention, influence my decisions and help me perform more effectively are what can make you successful when you speak, but you’ve got to inspire me to stick around to listen to you. So, it’s time to give you the gift (seven gifts actually) that will help you become a much more successful presenter. After all you’ve put me through, it’s the least I can do. So here you go:

? Identify who you are and why you are here so I’m not asking myself these questions while you are moving on to the next point. Create alignment right from the start so we’re on the same page.

? Explain up front what you hope to accomplish in two to four points because if you think I want to listen to pointless rambling tangents, I will fall asleep with my eyes open right in front of you. Keep it simple and none of us will be stupid.

? Look at me when you talk because when I feel included and valued, I’m less likely to drift off and more likely to want to listen. Comfortably move your eyes and body throughout your presentation and I will stay engaged.

? Explain how I benefit because I want to know “what’s in it for me?” Like you, I operate out of self-interest first. Even if there’s not a direct return on listening to you, at least let me know how I play a role in the topic you address.

? Speak with genuine passion because falling asleep in my drool is not fun for me and certainly doesn’t build you a group of loyal followers. By speaking loudly and with enthusiasm, you become contagious, and I want to hang around and listen to what you to say.

? Remind me what I should be doing before you leave because I’m more likely to retain your message. Even better, if you can provide action steps for me to put into practice, your message might stick around and make our organization a better place to be.

? Be confident when you speak. If you want me to believe in you, you must believe in yourself. The biggest heckler in the room is not me; it’s you. Own your value and think positively even before you walk in the room to greet me.

I certainly hope you consider these suggestions because I want nothing more than for you to succeed when you present to me. If you do, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Good luck!

Your Audience

 

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based executive and organizational development firm. He advises clients on leadership strategies and has helped executives prepare for $3 billion worth of sales presentations. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales meetings and management conferences and has appeared in numerous media outlets. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.

JoeTakashNo1VideoCan you really build morale in less than a second? Think about it. How possibly could it only take less than a second to boost the mood of someone – as well as a team?

According to Joe Takash, the president of Victory Consulting,  it can be accomplished by following a technique used by the late former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden (1910-2010). Yes, that’s right. He lived to be 99 years old.

In his latest Smart Connection video, “Build morale in less than a second,” Takash describes how Wooden used his “Thank You Rule.”

The key to his success was threefold.

No. 1, he knew his trade extremely well.

No. 2, he knew discipline extremely well.

No. 3, and maybe most importantly, Wooden knew people and how to motivate them.

Watch the video in its entirety here.

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based executive and organizational development firm. He advises clients on leadership strategies and has helped executives prepare for $3 billion worth of sales presentations. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales meetings and management conferences and has appeared in numerous media outlets. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.

A staggering 72 percent of employees today are either not engaged in their job or they are actively disengaged, according to a recent survey conducted by the Gallup Organization. This means they are not psychologically connected to their company and more likely to leave, or worse, they are physically present but mentally checked out and infecting trusted colleagues with their displeasure.

Very few staff members greet their boss and say, “Good morning, Bob. I’m feeling actively disengaged today and I’m going to demonstrate this to everyone … but you!” For employment survival, staff members may show one face to their boss, but the consequences of their lack of connectedness can be as insidious as a broken water pipe in your ceiling.

Impact areas that can suffer are safety, turnover, retention, client satisfaction, trust, morale, productivity and profit. The good news per this Gallup survey is that when you have an engaged workforce, client satisfaction and profitability are 12 percent higher and productivity is 18 percent higher.

Companies must be proactive about engagement and here are four strategies that can help.

Strategy 1: Implement regular knowledge updates

The difference between data and knowledge is paramount. Data is merely the what, which is often benign and shows little individual value for the employee. Knowledge is “the what, the why and the how staff members contribute to the success.” In the absence of communication, employees create their own dialogue, and it’s typically negative. Keep them informed.

Benefits:

  • Increases accuracy of understanding.
  • Aligns teams and departments with vision and strategy.
  • Builds morale and inspires performance through inclusion.

Strategy 2: Train your staff

The companies who don’t invest in training and developing staff are shooting themselves in the foot, not only because there is little expanse of knowledge and skills but because it sends a clear message that the investment is not worth it.

Benefits:

  • Recognizes and retains high performers and develops future leaders.
  • Links developmental competencies to strategic initiatives.
  • Cultivates confidence and better decision-making.

Strategy 3: Build a culture of great listeners

Where one manager may need to practice silence and stop finishing sentences, another may need to practice questions that show interest in the complete person, not just the work output of the given foot soldier. The former creates engagement; the latter is toxic.

Benefits:

  • Builds trust, which is the foundation of engagement.
  • Allows managers to adjust coaching and connecting with staff members.
  • Helps executives identify key talent resources.

Strategy 4: Effectively support your boss

If you want to be more engaged, apply the smart practice of creating support for your boss. Be solution-focused and find out what approach you should be taking to be in full support of your supervisor and your team. If people don’t tell you, ask them.

Benefits:

  • Allows you to anticipate what s/he needs.
  • Identify areas where you need to provide highest focus right now.
  • Enables you to step away from day-to-day activities to set long-term strategies to improve performance.

Once-a-year performance reviews do not engage a workforce. Employees deserve to know where they stand, what they’re doing well, where they need to improve and how their boss can support their performance improvement. Engagement requires more timely and qualitative exchanges and when these become a front-burner cultural priority on which management is measured against, an organizational win-win is the consistent outcome.

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based executive and organizational development firm. He advises clients on leadership strategies and has helped executives prepare for $3 billion worth of sales presentations. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales meetings and management conferences and has appeared in numerous media outlets. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.

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