Roy's Blog: Leadership

September 24, 2018

Shocking ways “the only one” is bringing sexy back

Competitive claims made by organizations today lack creativity, imagination and truth.

Most differentiation statements advocated by organizations and intended to convince us involve words like “best”, “number one”, “leader”, “fastest growing”, “most” and “highest quality” to assert their distinguishable characteristics vis-a-vis their competition.

The usual clap trap

These are common statements you see:
— “We provide the best customer service”
— “We strive to deliver the highest level of service at all times”
— “We offer the highest quality products”
— “We have the most knowledgeable employees”
— “We have been in business for over 30 years”
— “We rank number one in customer satisfaction “
— We are rated the number one airline in the world”

Nonsense

Unfortunately, these pronouncements add little understanding to help people select a company to do business with.
For example, how exactly does having knowledgeable employees make an organization the right choice given a number of alternatives to choose from?
Who decided an organization has the best customer service, and why should I believe them?
And why is being in business the longest even relevant in today’s business climate?

They statements are confusing and have little credibility with their audience. They are generally vague and aspirational without proven substance.

There is another way to approach the challenge of defining what makes an organization special and why people should do business with them and only them.

It’s called “the only one” — ONLY.

It’s an approach I developed as president of a data and internet company. I had to come up with an alternative way of communicating why we should be chosen over our competitors; ONLY was it and it worked amazingly well.

ONLY is constructed this way: “We are the ONLY ones that ___”.

ONLY is bringing sexy back; here’s why:

Provocative
ONLY is bold — some might say arrogant. It’s audacious in the claim to to be THE ONE that owns a particular space and is prepared to show all to prove it.
This confident face of the organization, in and of itself, raises curiosity to find out what it’s all about.

ONLY one

Easy to look at
ONLY is a simple expression which uses simple language. The low “fog factor” invites eyes to gaze on and process the thought articulated rather than struggling through what it means.

Clean form
ONLY relies on a binary view; the claim is either true or false. It exists or it doesn’t. It makes it very easy for the reader to assess both its relevance and its truth.
“We provide the ONLY solution that permanently stops people from depositing biohazard — aka used needles — contaminants through manhole covers” is a simple expression of the value being created by the offering.

Emotional appeal
ONLY is built around what is relevant to the customer’s the organization has chosen to serve — what their target customer group CARES about — therefore these specific people are warmed up to the competitive ONLY claim being made.

“We are the ONLY ones that provide safety solutions anywhere, anytime” speaks volumes to those who could be in need on a moment’s notice and it is reassuring to know that resources are available to help.

Revealing shape
ONLY provides detail and clarity around what the solution does, to make it easy for the potential buyer to make an informed decision.
It has the cutting edges and lines of specificity that attract followers.

“Unlike other distracted driving solutions that allow drivers to use their smartphone when driving, eBrake is the ONLY one that automatically locks a driver’s phone when motion is detected, but grants passengers unrestricted use.”

Revealing shape

Attractive measurements
ONLY is easily measured by asking the frontline and customers whether the claim is true or not; the measurement process is simple.
In addition, the researcher can look up and compare other organizations and what they offer as a competitive claim and reach their own conclusions on ONLY’s efficacy.

Distinctiveness
ONLY is different. There is no other similar proven method of creating a claim of competitive advantage out there.
It has a track record of success with a many organizations I have had the pleasure of working with. No other advisor, consultant, academic or strategy pundit has a tool in their kitbag like ONLY but Roy — I am the ONLY one.

Sexy is a personal thing. Some people look at something and find it sexy; others view the same thing and don’t see the sex appeal.

ONLY’s sexiness comes from bridging the two points of view. It represents a common denominator that most leaders searching for a compelling way to separate themselves from the crowd find attractive and effective.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.24.18 at 03:23 am by Roy Osing
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September 10, 2018

How to get kids ready to lead

We need to prepare kids today for standout leadership tomorrow.

Leaders who are capable of guiding organizations through the turmoil of dramatic economic change, serving employees with higher “ME” expectations, rising demands of social responsibility, insatiable investor demands and technological change showing no limits and no signs of slowing down.

I believe the principles and practices espoused by today’s leadership academics and pundits generally fall short in terms of guiding leaders to meet the critical challenges organizations face in these uncertain times.
And a point of concern is that some experts have limited experience “in the field” leading complicated organizations, yet their views punctuate the list of credentials, skills and experience necessary for effective leadership.

Practical leadership teaching is required.

It’s time to take the task of leadership development to ground zero and teach kids the practical basics of leadership.

These 5 actions can be taken by family members and teachers alike to sow the seeds for our future leaders.

Ask questions

Ask questions

Ask “What do you think?” in the face of a problem.
Rather than resort to taking control and dictating the solution, we must engage kids more actively in the problem solving process. And they must feel comfortable suggesting an approach that is not prescribed by the text books — thinking beyond the constraints of standards and tradition is a competency that must be encouraged.
Organizations need more problem solvers who come up with original and creative solutions, not individuals who blindly comply with traditional scripture.

Encourage art

Encourage kids to create art as opposed to deciphering a formula and “colouring inside the lines” perfectly.
Business is not formula driven and is often extremely messy; more often than not the most inelegant and imperfect solutions are the only ones that work in a world of politics and individual bias.
We need our kids to expand their thinking beyond the box of established methodology and explore non-traditional and often controversial approaches to deal with the challenges they face. For example, encourage them to consider going in the opposite direction to the most common approach and see what happens.

Art

Push tries

Push kids to define more than one way to handle a problem.
A plan rarely turns out the way it was intended in any organization; we need leaders who are adept and comfortable with coming up with a variety of responses that can be drawn upon when the original one falls short of expectations.
Ask “what else might work?” to encourage a conversation around alternate solutions to a problem rather than focusing on just one.
And insist that they try more often; have a go at a problem from many different perspectives. Success in the real world is rarely achieved in a single attempt; the more tries made, the more likely the winner will be discovered.

Look for differences

Expose and develop the differences in our kids rather than trying to get them to conform with others and comply with the accepted norms and rules of society.
The problem I see when chatting with new grads and young professionals is that most of them “look” the same. They have similar academic skills, their résumés use the same boilerplate template, they don’t know what makes them special and they have no idea how to compete with others who are vying for the same opportunities.
The challenge for every person is to find a persona that no one else possesses. Stand out. Be noticed.
Moms need to be on the lookout for how their kid is different from others rather than how they are the same. Pay attention to what separates them from the pack and not the similarities that define their conformity.

Breakaway

Reward breakaway behaviour

Develop their independence by challenging our kids with “Why do you care what others think?”
It’s not that you want to support deviant behaviour that has negative consequences on someone else, but raising kids based solely on the views and expectations of others won’t motivate innovation and creativity.
Inhaling the perceptions and biases of another individual simply creates a clone of them; individual identity is lost.
At an early age we need our kids to breakaway from the shackles imposed by herd mentality so leaders are created by the new ideas they have not how efficiently they conform to the expectations of others.
There is, of course, a huge need for our schools to morph from a compliance centric culture where kids are thought to follow the rules, to one that recognizes and rewards kids who are willing to take the risk to step beyond normal expectations. I’m not sure that I’ll see this transformation in my lifetime but one can always hope.

It’s on us

We should take personal responsibility to nurture our kids to grow up with future leadership potential and not continue to delegate the responsibility to the system to do it for us.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.10.18 at 04:32 am by Roy Osing
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August 27, 2018

What happens when you hang out with someone for 50 years?

Recently my wife and I celebrated 50 years of marriage and close to 60 years of hanging out together. Pretty rare, right?

Let’s face it, maintaining long term relationships and finishing what you started are formidable feats and challenging to say the least particularly in today’s world of uncertainty and unpredictability that cause immense stress and strain on people.

I have learned that there is a great deal of commonality between maintaining a healthy “productive” relationship for over a half century and achieving success whether it be in a career or business.
What works to develop person-to-person sustainability tends to be an accurate predictor of what will work in any environment where building strong relationships is critical.

These are my top 5 takeaways.

Success requires an all-in attitude

If you’re not in it mentally for the duration you’re not likely going to be able to endure the struggles of the journey.
If you don’t start out with the sole purpose of giving it everything you’ve got to make the relationship work despite the odds, then it probably won’t.

All in

My observation is that many partnership casualties result from giving up when the going gets tough; when the energy required to make it work is more than what people are prepared to invest — they don’t see that the return is worth it
To be successful in anything dictates that you can’t be sorta in. If you’re not 100% committed nothing remarkable happens and your goal alludes you.

You either take on the challenge with the sole purpose of achieving what you stepped up to or you don’t.
A journey with a half baked or casual commitment never gets completed; being in for 50% doesn’t cut it. It’s too easy to walk away. And it leaves casualties behind.

The most workable way forward is never a binary choice

Nothing is black or white. There isn’t a formula that says if you do this you will have a successful relationship and if you do something else you won’t (one of the reasons I never listened to the relationship “experts”).
What works for one relationship does not mean it will necessarily work for another. And what works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

Success is rather characterized by shades of grey that blends the needs of a broader audience and a broader purpose. Meaningful progress requires a compromise of minds to yield a variety of perspectives and opinions.
Failure to compromise and appreciate the needs of more than oneself normally results in dysfunctional relationships, minimal progress and eventual failure.

Imperfection must be embraced

Embrace imperfect

As I have witnessed in my own life, there is no such thing as a perfect partnership (and I must confess I don’t understand who ultimately is the author of perfection); it is often laced with the extremes of euphoria and sorrow.
And it certainly doesn’t follow any textbook theory on what it “should” look like.
Partnerships work because of what the partners say, not on what the textbooks say.

Success in anything is based on trying what you think might work and learning whether it does by trying to execute it on the run. It’s not determined by what you THINK will work but rather on whether it DOES when it stands raw naked in the face of real world forces.

It’s a function of the number of imperfect tries you make; the more tries you make the greater the likelihood a winning way forward will be discovered.
In addition, success requires keeping expectations of others real; not expecting them to always precisely live up to a predefined set of expectations.
Amazing results happen when people are allowed to express their “imperfect” individuality and creativity.

Heads up and be alert with tingly spider senses for the unexpected

Spider senses

Positive momentum is achieved. Things are stable. Life is good. Then WHAM! Just when you think things are running smoothly, the unexpected hits with vengeance out of left field to set your world on its heals.
A setback on the job, medical issues or family school grades performance descend upon you and threaten you and yours.

We live in a chaotic world where we have little control over much that affects us. So to move forward we must be able to accommodate the occasional body blow that disrupts our original plan and continue to move ahead.

We must be alert to the tipping points that await to lure us to the “dark side” from the shadows to push us off course.

And we must stay nimble and resilient to take a punch and still move forward with our end game in mind.

Stay with your mission

Be focused, true and resilient. It’s easy to get distracted and think another goal or purpose is better than the one you are currently pursuing.
Another person looks like an attractive alternative. Another career has a mouth watering pull. Your current business strategy doesn’t seem to be working so look elsewhere for a more attractive option.

You might discover a different route to your goal; that’s perfectly ok. But to be enticed off track and throw the baby out with the bath water results in rigour mortise setting in; no decisions are made and no actions are taken.
Be loyal and committed to your destination; find any means to reach it.

A relationship is an amazing teacher for what it takes to be successful in a career, business or any facet of life.

Pay attention to the ones you have.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 8.27.18 at 05:01 am by Roy Osing
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August 13, 2018

Leaders: this is what happens when you’re approachable

How many times have you heard a leader say they have an open door policy; that they are approachable?

Many of these individuals are simply regurgitating what they’ve read or have heard at a leadership seminar. They’ve been told that a fundamental requirement of an effective leader is to be easily available to others so they choose to announce their approachability to one and all.

The real test of whether they are “blowing smoke” is to watch what they do and not get mesmerized by what they say.

I have had the opportunity to work with many leaders over my 33+ year career and, by observation, these are the things the REAL approachable leaders do.

On the bottom

They live on the bottom

They have their office on the first floor of the building not at the “10,000’ level” where the air is rarified and where people would never casually go to drop in. Approachable leaders locate to make it easy for people to engage with them; they understand that a low intimidation factor is necessary to invite a conversation.

They are one with the people

They identify more with “the people” than with the leadership caste. Approachability is driven by inclusion not exclusion, and this means being recognized as a part of the work team not the executive team.
Just because you have a VP title doesn’t mean you can’t fulfill your executive role and be a functioning part of the operations organization that gets things done.

They are known on a first name basis

Employees call them by their first name, and you notice it. It’s not that the leader isn’t respected, in fact it’s the opposite.
They attract the respect that leaves people wanting to call them in a more casual friendly way.
The leader has earned the right to attract engagement in a first name basis; it doesn’t come from being distant and aloof.

They spend time in the work location

“Approachables” spend time in employees’ work locations, with people where THEY work. Approachable leaders spend more time out of their office than in it, and out-of-office locations are the workplaces of their people.
They are shoulder-to-shoulder with the people going the work asking how they can help make their jobs easier so they can perform better.

Face to face

They are face to face communicators

They prioritize face to face meetings over any other mode of communication. Active engagement with employees defines an approachable persona where interaction is the mode.
They use one way communication channels — email, texting, social media — where necessary but prefer active conversation rather than passive monologues.

They have a public face

They invite “intrusions”. They invite communications by posting their email address for everyone to see. And they make sure all emails are answered personally within a specified time.
Yes, it’s an onerous commitment which chews up time that could be spent on other tasks, but that’s what makes them approachable and other leaders insincere.

They put employees ahead of their boss

Places employee engagements ahead of other internal meetings and when there’s a conflict, employees take priority.
This is uncomfortable and perhaps risky at times when the CEO — and this has happened to me — has called an impromptu meeting that you have to decline.

They lunch and learn with people

On occasion you will spot “the approachable one” at lunch with a number of employees which usually means they are looking for feedback on an idea or project or are wanting to recognize a job well done for a special team who have just accomplished an amazing feat.

Approachable leaders show their stripes in simple caring ways, but that why they’re approachable, right?

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 8.13.18 at 03:46 am by Roy Osing
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