“I resolve to lose weight.” Snore. We live in America—the place with the largest food portions on the planet. Until we shrink serving sizes or invent a little pill that really works, we’re always going to have that one on the New Year’s resolutions list!
I’m skipping resolutions. Instead, I offer four thoughts I hope will be useful for 2013:
You can’t do it all. So what’s that “one thing” you can do really well, as opposed to six things just “okay?” It could be for your personal or business life.
Grab a pad, get away from the office, and list the top things that have been on your mind. Perhaps you’ll whittle it down to, yes, just one really major thing. Your “one thing” could be a purchase, a sale, an expansion, a hire, a niche, a purpose, a mission, a cause, a challenge, an opportunity, an overdue decision.
What’s your one thing for the New Year?
Rick Morgan recently blogged on leadership, and it’s recommended reading if you missed it. It reminded me of the research we’re currently updating for the IIABA Agents Council for Technology on “Agency of the Future.” In our research, we came across the concept of transactional leaders vs. transformational leaders, in the book Organizational Behavior. The authors say a transactional leader guides or motivates followers in the direction of established goals by clarifying the role and task requirements, and by rewarding only on a contingent basis. It’s a laissez-faire approach—abdicating responsibility, avoiding decisions, and intervening only if standards aren’t met.
But the good stuff is found in transformational leaders. They transcend self-interests for the good of the organization. They inspire people. They can have a profound effect on followers by providing personal attention, consideration, and coaching.
The authors say both are required for an organization to succeed but most failures occur when transformational leadership is lacking.
What sorts of leaders run your organization?
I’ve always wondered why the sales person is viewed as a different animal—sometimes superhuman, sometimes non-human. But in The Art of the Sale, author Philip Delves Broughton says “selling well . . . is also a reflection of a healthy character. It means you are the sort of person people are drawn to—hardworking, clean living and trustworthy.”
Delves Broughton “argues that sales might just be the noblest of business callings,” The Wall Street Journal says in a review. “But, in fact, corporations treat salespeople like they’re a breed apart, a class division. Many people in business are clueless over how you generate revenue with sales. They patronize them—send them to motivational conferences. They goad them with complex commission structures, and rein them in when they sell too hard.”
If you find the right people for your firm, you don’t have to goad anyone. Consider Sara Bennett, age 31, a commercial broker with Barney & Barney in San Diego. She was asked by Business Insurance in a recent “women to watch” feature, “What skill has been an unexpected aid to your career?”
Bennett replied: “Empathy. I think your client wants to know that you understand what they’re going through if it’s a renewal or, conversely, if they’re excited about something in their business—maybe they made their own goal or went public or whatever. It is that you can be in their shoes and celebrate with them. We’re in a hard market now, so I’m dealing with a lot of challenges. I’ve been told what makes me most successful as a broker is the fact that I care. I almost make their problems like my own to a fault, perhaps.”
Do you have the right sales folks in your organization? How do you treat them?
I’ve recently read in a couple of places about the value of giving 2 percent of your time—a total of a week a year—to a national or local cause worthy of your volunteering. I think I’ve done this forever—but I don’t want to take it for granted, as it’s actually really enjoyable, like Jeremiah Project. Back in New Jersey I used to do a lot of work for the Jaycees, and my favorite line in the Jaycees creed is “Service to humanity is the best work of life.”
What’s your 2 percent cause?
If you still insist on resolutions, be my guest! Maybe one of these four thoughts will fill the bill.
To all our associates, clients and friends, Happy New Year. Here’s a toast of fine red wine to a great 2013!