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Service: Delivering Value For Its Own Sake

Saying that you’re “customer-service oriented” is not a differentiator. Actually being of service, as demonstrated by contribution and delivering significant value, is.  The ability to discern what’s wanted and needed, with the willingness and tools to provide it, will set you apart both in how you are perceived and the results you produce.

 

While many people in business speak of service (customer service, servant-leadership, etc.), few are willing to step out and provide tremendous value without assurance of direct return. Though that approach seems to make sense and may even seem “obvious” from a traditional business view, it is precisely that “obviousness” that I want to explore. When you examine the validity of the underlying assumptions of the “me first” mentality, you may end up with some new opportunities for impact that would have otherwise eluded you. 

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The Gift of Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism is, well, constructive. There is no such thing as “constructive criticism that is hurtful”. There is constructive criticism and there are failed attempts at constructive criticism. How one knows if the criticism was constructive is by looking at the results.  If the recipient of said critique is left empowered and has greater clarity after than before, this is constructive.  Intending to give constructive criticism and leaving someone less effective, is not.  It would serve most of us to develop our skills at both giving and receiving critique.  When it actually happens the giving of constructive criticism, is a gift.  It makes the recipient more effective and leaves him or her, with increased confidence in their ability. 

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From Connection to Action

“It’s not what you say to the players that counts, it’s what they hear.”

–Red Auerbach, Former Head Coach of the Boston Celtics and 9-time World Champion (in a 10-year span)

 

Communication is often assumed (or explicitly said) to be a matter of transmitting information from a sender to a receiver. Personally, I think that’s simply broadcasting. Real communication includes both the sending and the receiving—the mutual sharing of the information—and therefore, if it’s not received, it’s not actually communication.

 

If this is true, you may find that a whole lot of what you thought was communication, really wasn’t. You may also find that this gives you a new perspective from which to craft your communications and that there are some immediate opportunities for increasing your effectiveness and impact. Whether in terms of your marketing, sales, leadership, teamwork or relationships, communication is key—and you can only make the difference you want to make to the degree that your communication is effective.

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What Are You Committed To, REALLY?

As I’ve worked with clients and associates to create a foundation for high performance, it is often our approach to deal first with the areas that, upon investigation and evaluation, are clearly lacking integrity (in the dictionary sense of integrity: being whole and complete). In our model, integrity for an individual boils down to one’s word being whole and complete, and it is often easiest to start that inquiry by addressing the already-apparent areas: where are you not doing what you said you’d do, what you know to do and/or what the people around you could expect you to do? Usually, discovering what’s missing in these areas doesn’t take a lot of looking, as we are often already aware of many of them and yet still aren’t in action.

Certainly, taking this route of starting with what we already know is lacking can be very productive and, whether we see things that were missing that we weren’t already aware of or we get some new insight into the impact that our lack of integrity has had, can produce large shifts in performance through very simple, “small” actions. However, in many cases the “stuckness” persists and the actions remain undone. Why is this?

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From Here To Breakthrough (for organizations with a foundation of success)

Let’s start where you are.  Your organization is meeting expectations.  Clearly what you do works.  You have a track record of producing reliable results and growing at a rate that is satisfactory.  You know how to do many things that when combined, produce predictable results.  You sell an acceptable amount of product or service, deliver it at an acceptable quality of service and do so at a margin that works.  This demonstrates a sensible approach and solid management.  Without both, this would not be possible.  This represents an excellent foundation for true high performance with two caveats. First, A solid reliable organization cannot make dramatic shifts, what we call breakthroughs, without recognizing that breakthrough performance does not come from what we already know.  Second, leaders must be willing to commit to getting somewhere specific.  Without a known destination it is possible to do lots of great work, but it is not possible to correct our course.  Predictable breakthroughs happen only when we know where we are going and they happen in an environment where we are willing to work with the unknown as well as the known. 

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